Posted by Coach Mark Sortino


There’s a winner...and then everyone else at competitions. For those competing at the highest levels, it’s never about time, but rather place. When athletes are competing at the highest level, the margin that separates first or from fifth (for example) is very, very small. The seconds lost or gained could be a minor mistake in logistics, a loss of mental focus, or even what an athlete ate or drank the day before. For the winners, there is celebration, a sense of accomplishment, progression and even financial gain. For everyone else, there are questions, concerns, investigations, sadness, disappointment and reflection. What do the best athletes do when they don’t win? They learn. The following are just a few actions they take:


Honest Assessment of Performance - The wise, Elite Athlete breaks down the entire race and analyzes any mistakes, errors or particulars of the event. Assessment is in the details, and with an honest eye.

Examining Expectations - The coach and the athlete look at what the expectation was for that event and see if they were overreaching or were right on.

Reality of Competing Against the Best - The Elite Athlete understands, either from their own experience or from the experience of their coach, that on any given day, there may be a handful of athletes that can win. Some days, it just may be another athlete’s day.

Steadfast Confidence - Even with a loss, the Elite Athlete doesn’t get deterred or insecure. They get back at it and continue to press forward while learning the entire time. This is the nature of competing at this level!


Learning from our “losses”, whether they be missed goals or missed podiums, is what defines the difference between average athletes and great athletes. And, oh by the way, it also directly impacts our enjoyment and fulfillment of the sport and competition!


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