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Dealing with Disappointment

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

Basketball is Psychology XV

“If you learn to use adversity the right way, it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”



Only one team ends the season with a win. Unless you were part of a team that ended the season hoisting the championship trophy, your season ended with a loss.

Losing and underperforming can be heartbreaking, especially considering the countless hours invested, and all the sacrifices that go into a season. It can be hard to accept that the season is over. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you let your teammates down, your coaches down, your family down, and your school or city down.

That feeling of disappointment can drain you physically, mentally, and emotionally if you let it. It’s a heavy emotion. There is a way to overcome the devastating heartbreak, discouragement, and disappointment.

Using Adversity

A common denominator among the greatest basketball players is their ability to not let disappointments stop them from working. Disappointments don’t define them, they propel them forward. In fact, they used their disappointments as fuel to motivate them.

At Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, a sophomore failed to secure one of the 15 roster spots on the varsity team. He went home and cried about it. From there, he had a choice: he could be overcome by those feelings of disappointment and give up, or he could use the disappointment to his advantage.

Most would tell themselves that not making varsity as a sophomore is a sure sign that your basketball career won’t amount to much. However, this 15-year-old turned his disappointment to motivation. He used it as motivation, “Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it. That usually got me going again.” When he thought about his shortcomings, it only made him want to make sure that never happened again. He strategically reminded himself of his disappointments, and that was the fuel he used to become great.

That player went on to star on the junior varsity team. He even went on to become a McDonald’s All American, 6 time NBA Champion, 5 time NBA MVP, 14 time NBA all star, and the greatest basketball player of all time. That player is Michael Jordan.

Where are your disappointments driving you? They can drive you to work harder, or they can drive you to give up. Either way, it is a choice of thought.

When you reflect on the season and think about all the areas you came up short, you can use it as motivation or you can use it as an excuse to give up.

If you shot poorly this season, you can tell yourself that you’re a bad shooter, or you can jump at any chance to work on your shot to make sure next season is different.

If you had a losing record, you can tell yourself you’re a loser, or you can get better every day, motivated by how much you hated to lose.

Your mentality towards this season’s disappointment will shape the offseason, which will shape next season.

Putting things in perspective is a skill. Frame all of your disappointments in a constructive way. Find something positive you can build on. Our brains are wired to focus on the negative-- that’s why it’s much easier to remember all the of the negative events. You might have to work harder to find the positives, but it’s important to find the good in every disappointment.

Buying a Ticket

In 2018, Virginia became the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed.

At the beginning of this season, Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett showed his team a ted talk with the quote, “If you learn to use it right (the adversity) it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”

Instead of letting the shocking disappointment define them, they had the mindset that the loss was going to bring them closer together in a special way. That attitude landed them a ticket to the Final Four this year.


It’s important to take some time and rest and reflect on the season. Don’t try to get over it instantly, but don’t dwell on your disappointments forever. Don’t be ashamed of it, understand why you’re disappointed so you can understand what you want to improve.

Disappointment is a great sign.

Being disappointed means you aren’t satisfied.

Being disappointed means you’re hungry for more.

Being disappointed means you know you’re capable of more.

Being disappointed keeps you motivated.

Ending the season with complacency is way worse than disappointment. A lack of disappointment means you’re not interested in improving, you’re satisfied, and that is the worst place to be mentally. Complacency is the opposite of growth.

Don’t let your disappointment turn to frustration, stagnation, and a lessening of commitment.

Let your disappointments inspire and motivate you to seize the next opportunity.


Written by Julie Fournier

Founder & CEO


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