Basketball Coaching: 10 Basketball Quotes to Use After a Loss

By Nick Bartlett, Dr. Dish Basketball
From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
This article was submitted by Nick Bartlett of Dr. Dish Basketball, makers of the Dr. Dish Shooting Machine.

In a big game against your biggest rival, your basketball team played like champions – and came up empty with a tough loss. As their fans scream with joy you and your staff escort your kids with their head's down to the locker room.

Your job is to make sure this loss doesn't crush their spirits. Of course, you'll use your own words, but don't neglect the wisdom of accomplished sports figures who have also lost heartbreakers. There are thousands of them. After all, 50 percent of sports is about losing.

It is your job to be prepared to share the words and actions that will help your team recover quickly from what they see as a tragedy. You will demonstrate to your players how to accept the loss. Arguably, it's a coach's most important job.

a sad locker room after a loss

According to sports psychologist Dr. Chris Stankovich, the first thing to do is emphasize the team's effort. Praise them – honestly – for what they did well. Then, he suggests you re-frame the experience; point out areas the team can improve on in the future; develop a short memory for losing and, finally, ask for input from your players.

The 10 quotes listed below take these suggestions into account and help you with the hardest part of your job:

  1. "Losing is part of the game. If you never lose, you are never truly tested, and never forced to grow." - David Sirlin

  2. "Failure does not come from losing, but from not trying." - Larry Brown

  3. "Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts." - John Wooden

  4. "You have no choices about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again." - Pat Riley

  5. "Bad things do happen; how you respond to them defines your character and the quality of your life. You can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of your loss or you can choose to rise from the pain…" - Walter Anderson

  6. "The hardest skill to acquire in this sport is the one where you compete all out, give it all you have, and you are still getting beat no matter what you do. When you have the killer instinct to fight through that, it is very special." – Eddie Reese

  7. "It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get back up." - Vince Lombardi

  8. "Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity with which we absorbed this loss." - Doug Williams

  9. "Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play." Mike Singletary

  10. "Losing is only temporary and not all encompassing. You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again. Then you must have the self-control to forget about it." - John Wooden

Use these 10 quotes when your team's spirit is on the brink and remember, you are in good company. Name any of the greatest basketball coaches of all time - Wooden, Smith, Summitt, Auerbach, Auriemma, Riley, Jackson - and each of them has faced the same kind of sorrow in front of you. Their teams rebounded back from defeats to do amazing things. Your team can, too.

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