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Beating the Odds

When Teams Try to Lose

Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.

Two prep basketball teams tried to lose a game.

They both succeeded.

And they both lost.


We’re referring to two Tennessee prep teams who recently tried to outdo each other in losing. They deliberately committed turnovers. Both teams apparently were trying to avoid a game against a top-ranked squad.

Instead, they managed to win lots of bad press. Riverdale, a state champion in 2013, and Smyrna were fined a total of $1,500 each and placed on probation for a year by the state athletic association, according to an ESPN report.

“This situation defeated the purpose of educational-based athletics,” said Bernard Childress, head of the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association, citing ethics, integrity, sportsmanship, morals and values.

Aside from all that, losing on purpose involves one other problem — it’s bad psychology.

Looking ahead is one of the worst mistakes an athlete or a coach can make. Any great athlete will tell you that staying in the moment is the key to success.

Teaching athletes to stay in the moment is one of the greatest life lessons a coach can impart. In our book, “Think Better, Win More! How Sport Psychology Can Make You a Champion,” Dr. Rob Gilbert and I devote an entire chapter to “The Power of the Present.”

That’s because life pulls everyone — you, me, the world’s greatest athletes — out of the present. We’re all tempted to regret the past. We’re all tempted to worry about the future. We sometimes forget that this moment is the only one in which we can actually do something.

This struggle for the present goes back centuries.

Said Buddha, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

If you really want to be a champion, or coach a champion, heed that ancient wisdom.

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Thank you for visiting Total Game Plan. If your team, group or business needs a motivational speaker, please email coachtully @ totalgameplan.com. Here are some other resources for your success:

Think Better, Win More!” will give you a mental game to match your physical game.

To get better at anything, check out “The Improvement Factor: How Winners Turn Practice into Success.”

Do you coach females? Are you a female athlete, or the parent of one? Here’s “Was It Something I Said? A Guide to Coaching Female Athletes” by Vanessa Sullivan and Mike Tully

Need some motivation? Everyone needs it now and then. Open any page of “Thank God You’re Lazy! The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back” for a story or a quote to lift your spirits.

Are you a teacher, boss or sports coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.


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