Normally I would take the time after a tournament to give my post-competition analysis. This past weekend I competed at Canada Cup #2 in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was aiming for gold but I fell short of my goal and finished 9th. My result is still a good result, but it is not quite what I wanted. I fenced very well, ranking 1st out of pools. I won my elimination matches with ease up until I met Peter Toshkov in the top 16. I can’t really say I fenced poorly, all I can really say is that Toshkov fenced excellently and he was the better fencer. Toshkov won with a score of 15-13. Our match was a bout where Toshkov knew what I was going to do and I knew what he was going to do. The match came down to who could obtain their pre-requisites for an attack first. Upon reviewing the footage, I can’t really say there is anything I would’ve done terribly different. The match makes for a very boring and simple analysis!
Instead of boring you with an in-depth analysis of a mildly uneventful day that may be equatable to describing a jog to an inconveniently closed convenience store, I would like to shed some light on how I deal and recover from an unsatisfying result. With two 9th place finishes at both Canada Cups this season and an abysmal performance in Cleveland, I have already faced the pride-less beast of poor performance results.
I put a lot of effort into my training and I take losses and shortcomings very personally. I am quite hard on myself, so I’ve had to develop a system that allows me to feel the sadness, analyze, and turn the bad result into motivation.
Feel the Sadness
Immediately after losing an elimination match, I take my equipment straight to my bag and pack up what I can. Keeping busy allows me to swallow the defeat and buy my mind time to process the events clearly. I’m humble in defeat, but I still hate every moment of losing. I find it is important for me to feel disappointed and upset because it gives me the clarity to move freely into my next step in coping.
When I’ve acknowledged my defeat and I can calmly analyze my performance I know I’m ready to continue with my training plan. I break down the competition and I write down the things I did well, the things I did bad, and the things that were done to me that led to my defeat (The good, the bad, and the ugly). It can be hard at times to look at yourself critically, but I think you can learn the most from losing. I then take this list and compare it to my previous tournaments of the season. I check for consistency, and I ask myself these questions:
Have I been consistent in doing the good things? If so, awesome. If not, why?
Have I been consistent in the bad things? Have the bad things become habits? How can I modify my training to accurately address these bad areas?
Have the things that beat me been consistent? If so, I look at my previous training plan and analyze it further to find out why I wasn’t able to address this obvious weakness in my game. If it is something new that is beating me, I analyze why it is beating me and I come up with a plan to combat it from happening again.
Once I’ve come up with my training plan for the next competition, I visualize new success with my improved training plan. This lights a fire beneath me and the desire to improve, and show myself that I can be better, burns brightly.
With a refreshed need to prove to myself that I can be better I set challenges in all my workouts and push myself to achieve mini-wins in all of my areas of training. For my morning metabolic circuits I set a goal to beat my record of how fast I can complete the circuits. For my footwork, I try to modify my drills to incorporate movements that will help me address the things that are beating me and I remind myself that if I want to win, I need to maintain utmost focus and technical discipline. In my training bouts, I try to create situations where I’m forced to deal with my weaknesses and I’m forced to adapt in real time. For example, I used to have an issue that when my opponent would attack, I would retreat way out of distance which would lead to missed opportunities for me to score when my opponent was overextended. To combat this, I forced myself to fence absence of blade and ‘parry with my legs’, moving just out of distance so that I could follow up with an attack immediately. This change resulted in loss after loss after loss until I finally started to win matches. It can be hard to lose consecutively but that is what training is for. I use the absence of blade training as an example because I was very weak at it but now it is my primary way to fence. When I can see that my training is paying off, my motivation skyrockets and it allows me to dig even deeper and push myself harder and harder.
Everyone has their own way to deal with results that they aren’t happy with, but hopefully you can take something from my methods and it will help you to push yourself and improve your athletic performance! Please feel free to reply with a comment on what you do to deal with the tough things in your life.