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Art: Play' Not to Lose.
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Playing Not To Lose.
by Joseph Delgado, Team Head.

When I first read that, I thought not to lose? What? Then I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and it made more sense. He was writing about another game--money. I've been playing "not to lose" for a very long time in more than one area of my life especially racquetball. So I'm grateful for his book.

Playing not to lose, means instead of being focused on winning and taking calculated risks you play a very hesitant or safe game. It's a conflict. It robs you of your power, your focus, and ultimately your victory. There's a big difference in mind set as well. One is I can win and has great momentum. The other is fearful and momentum is lost.

Loss of Power. Not just physical but also mental. If you play a cautious game it means at some level you are afraid. Afraid the ball will skip, afraid your drive serve will get eaten up, and afraid you'll setup up your opponent again. All this fear really cuts the main lines. I've been there more times…well I don't think I've ever really left. My track record in business, my career, and racquetball has not been great.

Playing to win means accepting defeat as a possible outcome. Defeat for all your hard work, your training, your love. It hurts much more at 100% than giving a half hearted effort because we can hide behind it. We think things would have been different if we really tried.

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." -- Theodore Roosevelt

Loss of Focus. There's an obvious conflict going on, the shot you really want to take. The shot you've nailed hundreds of times in practice or regular play is suddenly being pulled in two directions. Yes or If? There's no room for hesitation in racquetball or anywhere else. Hesitation either means you're afraid of the outcome or something isn't right. Most often it's the outcome.

At the 2008 State Singles in New Jersey, Anthony DeFusto offered some advice to Mark Greco after Mark took a donut. Anthony quoted some baseball player, focus is not thinking at the right time. I see it.

Loss of Mindset. We’re usually our own worst enemy. When I've played not to lose, playing doesn't feel good it feels stressful and tight. Instead of having fun and working my plan I'm running around afraid and the mistakes keep piling up then until either anger or more fear take over.

If you play "not to lose" you're helping your opponent beat you because all the best aspects of your game are out of play.

See you on the Courts

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