Losing Is OK: How to Grow from a Hard Loss
Wed 7th Feb 2018 - 10:00pm
When a set comes to an end, there are only two kinds of competitors left, winners and losers. This fact is absolute. It is the nature of fighting games as a whole. As much as we may not like to think about it, we have all felt the sting of being absolutely trashed by someone better than us at some point. The fact of the matter is, everyone loses once in a while. Even the best of the best will not always play perfectly and drop a set. A loss may seem like a negative thing at first. You feel disappointed, you doubt your ability, and you become discouraged. That being said, a loss doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, losing gives you a unique opportunity to learn and grow as a player. Let's go over the steps you can take to turn a defeat into a teaching tool.
1. Adjusting your Perspective
The first step in recognizing and accepting your loss is to adjust your perspective. There is no need to beat yourself up over a tough loss. Everybody loses now and then! Try to think of the loss as an opportunity to improve instead of condemning yourself and your ability. Afterall, it is often said that failure is one of the greatest teachers. You certainly don’t want to lose again, so what knowledge can you gain from your previous loss to help you grow as a player? The principle is simple. If you can pick one or more lessons to be learned from a set you have lost and make a change, then you can make progress as a competitor. Let’s move forward with some examples.
2. Learning from your Loss
While it is impossible to pick out every single reason you may have lost a set, you can definitely identify at least a few places in which you fell short. First things first, if your set was recorded or streamed, seek it out. It certainly helps to be able to see exactly what happened during your set if you plan to analyze it. Consider the following lessons you can learn from re-watching or thinking back to your set.
- What you did or didn’t do in the neutral and punish game that could have given you the advantage.
- Which of your approach options worked and which of your approach options led to you getting thwarted and punished.
- What options your opponent utilized in the neutral and punish game that worked for them.
- What matchups you need to work on.
- What crucial tech skill you need to refine/execute properly.
- What other principles like movement and spacing you need to improve upon.
Depending on the severity of your loss, some of these or all of these may apply. It may seem overwhelming to consider all of these at once, so start by identifying one or two of your gameplay shortcomings at first. The more you analyze, the better you will get at spotting what you need to do differently. Additionally, you will become skilled at recognizing what your opponents are doing that you need to watch out for. Perhaps, as Fox, you used your laser a little too much. This may have allowed your opponent to get their hands on you easily and start up their punish game. Or maybe you messed up a ledge dash and self-destructed as a result.
While very important, simply recognizing these errors is not enough to turn a loss into progress. The last step in the process is just as critical to your overall improvement.
3. Applying What you have Learned to your Gameplay
If you identify a problem and do nothing about it, then why did you take the time to recognize it in the first place? After learning what you did wrong in the set you lost, you must adjust your gameplay accordingly to the teachings of the lesson you just learned. If you do not choose to adjust, then the lesson you have learned is lost. For some mistakes, applying a change is simple. If you missed a ledge dash and self-destructed, then it's time to get back in the lab and clean those ledge dashes up.
However, not all mistakes originate from a simple missed input. Some mistakes, like the aforementioned overuse of Fox’s laser, can just be a bad habit of yours. Habits can be tough to break and can be exploited by your opponents if they recognize them in your gameplay. To counteract this, don’t play a single game on auto pilot! Not even friendlies. Try your best to be keenly aware of an identified bad habit and when it happens, and then actively try to resist falling into its pattern.
Personally, I had a bad habit of frequently using aerials from the ledge. My friends and practice partners would often abuse this habit of mine and simply out space my incoming attack and proceed to punish me. To fight my instinct, everytime I was at the ledge I would take a brief moment to remind myself to try another option besides a ledgehop aerial. This principle of being aware of your bad habits and acting upon them can also apply to any area of your gameplay you want to improve. Being aware of when you are in the situation where you want to make a positive change to your gameplay is half the battle. That being said, it is equally crucial to then follow through and make that change.
It goes without saying that SSBM is a very complex and difficult game. You will end up losing during your competitive journey. We all know how failure can discourage and put us in a negative frame of mind. However, if you fundamentally change how you view a loss, you can actually improve from your loss and avoid negativity as shown above. Just remember, without loss, there can be no victory. We can’t win every game we play; but we can certainly toughen up and come back as an even more competent and effective competitor.
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