How Do You Treat Yourself After a Mistake?

Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

As practice continues for many and approaches for others, we’ve been addressing the attitudes and perceptions that players should consider as they take to the floor. While competing for playing time and a spot on a team is at the forefront for most, this is also a critical time of improvement. Within the context of proving yourself, however, many players easily fall into poor habits of self-talk, especially when it comes to making mistakes.  Let’s take a closer look.

BASKETBALL – Increase Your Activity

Basketball is a game of mistakes. Everyone misses lay ups,shoots air balls, loses the ball, stumbles, and makes poor decisions.  You need to accept that.  Just because you missed 10 shots in a row, doesn’t mean you won’t make the next one.

bildeWe had to talk about that with our team the other day.  As we had our Fall break, we scheduled an early morning practice – our first of the year, and even though we talked about being prepared for practice and we urged our players to take responsibility for their teammates so that we were all ready to go, we were flat.  And, we didn’t just start flat, we had multiple mistakes pile upon mistakes!  We had to stop and reset.  We talked about basketball being a game of mistakes.  We talked about admitting the mistake, understanding the mistake, and ultimately, making up for the mistake and not simply pushing it aside.  You see, too many of us think that all you need to do is forget about it, but you have to be careful with that.  It certainly helps to have “short-term” memory so that you can move on, but you have to move on proactively so that you don’t continue to make the same mistake. We’re talking about that within a new defense we’re implementing when we tell our players “don’t get beat the same way consecutively.”  Learn and adjust.

If you’re not familiar with the camps and resources of Point Guard College, you need to be!  Listen to this instruction about responding to mistakes from former All-American point guard, Dena Evans:


I like Dena’s approach.  Recognize that you will make mistakes, but recognize the mistake and then increase your activity.  Focus in.  Talk more.  Do something positive.

LIFE – What You Say

All of us make mistakes in our life as well, but repeating mistakes and allowing mistakes to define us leads each of us down disappointing paths.  Mistakes, however, are not simple accidents or missteps.  The original meaning of “mistake” is to take in error.  We often play a role in our mistakes and in many cases, what we say to ourselves about our mistakes, is often more impactful than the mistakes themselves!

Seven Steps to Self-Talk Success

Admit the mistake:  “Hey, it happened.”
Own the mistake:  “Yes, I did it. No Excuses!”
Understand the mistake:  “How exactly did it go wrong?”
Explore the mistake’s impact: “What are the consequences of my error?”
Make amends for the mistake: “What person do I need to apologize to and how can I make it right?”
Learn from the mistake: “How can I grow from this?”
Move beyond the mistake: “How can I positively increase my activity?”

The reality is we are all human and we all blow it. The critical question for each of us is this:  How do I treat myself afterward?

FAITH – What You Do

downloadThere is no better example in the Bible of overcoming not just a mistake, but a critical, willful act of disobedience (sin) than King David.  David, “the man after God’s own heart,” willfully acted in a moment of lust to commit adultery with another man’s wife and then compounded the problem by seeing to the man’s death (read all about it in 2 Samuel 11).  If you’re familiar with the story, thess sins eventually led to the model of confession for most of us (see Psalm 51).   Many of us shortchange that account, however, by simplifying it down to “David sinned, David confessed, God forgave, and David moved on from the mistake,” but the truth is that journey took almost an entire year, as Max Lucado writes in his book Facing Your Giants:

It took David a year. It took a surprise pregnancy, the death of a soldier, the persuasion of a preacher, the probing and pressing of God, but David’s hard heart finally softened, and he confessed: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13).

And, that major mistake (sin) was really just part of a pattern of neglect for his marriage(s) and his children.  As you read more from Lucado and in the Old Testament, David was a lousy father.  Even though he admitted his sin and owned his sin of marital infidelity, it doesn’t appear that he increased his “activity” as Dena suggested.  What if he would have focused in a bit more or communicated more with his family?

Have you made some mistakes?  Do you have sins that stick with you.  Your life can be healed, restored, and rebuilt, just like David’s was, even if it takes an entire lifetime. It’s not an easy journey, but it will be the most worthwhile venture you can choose.  Like David, you will have to be honest with God, and with yourself – but, then you have to increase your activity and you have to consider what you say to yourself.