Day 23: Handle Setbacks

Helping Athletes, Coaches, and Teams Perform!

In sports, setbacks are an inevitable part of the journey for athletes and teams. Whether you're an aspiring athlete or a seasoned pro, you've likely encountered your fair share of obstacles. It's how you handle these setbacks that can make all the difference in your performance, impact your mental game, and overall mental well-being. In this article, we'll delve into strategies for effectively handling setbacks and emerging stronger than ever.

Many of us look at setbacks as a bad thing, but in fact they are part of the process, and actually help us build resilience in the long run. If everything was easy, everyone would be doing it!

When a setback occurs, here are a eight ways to deal with the setback and come back even stronger.

1. Embrace the Process

Setbacks can be disheartening and make you question your abilities. However, it's crucial to understand that setbacks are part of the process of improvement. Every successful athlete faces obstacles along the way. Embrace the journey, and view setbacks as temporary roadblocks, rather than permanent barriers. Remember, it's not about how many times you fall down, but how many times you get back up.

2. Accept Your Emotions & Feelings

It's normal to feel frustrated, angry, or disappointed when faced with a setback. These are all normal emotions and part of the process. Suppressing emotions can be harmful in the long run. Instead, allow yourself to acknowledge and accept your feelings. By recognizing your emotions, you can better understand the impact the setback has had on you. This self-awareness will enable you to move forward and make a plan for overcoming the setback.

3. Learn from the Setback

In every setback lies an opportunity for growth and learning. Take some time to reflect on the setback and analyze what went wrong. Is there something you could have done differently? Are there any weaknesses you can address? By treating setbacks as learning experiences, you can turn them into stepping stones towards improvement. Remember, it's not about avoiding setbacks, but about how you use them to become a better athlete and person.

4. Lean on Support Network

During tough times, it's important to surround yourself with a strong support system. Reach out to your coaches, teammates, family, or even a mental performance consultant for guidance and encouragement. Sharing your feelings and thoughts with others can help you gain new perspectives and find effective strategies for moving forward. Remember, you don't have to face setbacks alone.

5. Maintain a Growth Mindset

Psychologist Carol Dweck coined the term "growth mindset," which emphasizes the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. Cultivating a growth mindset is crucial when dealing with setbacks. Instead of seeing your abilities as fixed, see them as malleable. This perspective encourages continuous learning and resilience in the face of setbacks. This growth mindset perspective will also help you stay persistent after a setback.

6. Set New Goals

When faced with a setback, it's easy to dwell on what went wrong. Instead, shift your focus to setting new goals. Identify areas that need improvement and set realistic short-term goals to work towards. Breaking down your larger goals into smaller, achievable milestones will help you regain confidence and motivation. By shifting your focus to the future, you can fuel your determination to overcome setbacks and reach new heights.

7. Take Care of Yourself

In times of adversity, it's essential to prioritize self-care. Setbacks can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. Make sure to get enough rest, eat a balanced diet, and engage in activities that bring you joy outside of your sport. Taking care of your overall well-being will not only help you recover faster but also provide a much-needed perspective and balance in your life.

8. Stay Persistent

Resilience is key when faced with setbacks. Understand that setbacks do not define your success or talent. It's how you respond to them that truly matters. Stay persistent, keep pushing forward, and never lose sight of your passion for your sport. Remember, setbacks are temporary, but the strength you gather from overcoming them will carry you to new heights.


Setbacks are an integral part of an athlete and/or team’s journey. By embracing setbacks as opportunities for growth, seeking support, and setting new goals, you can bounce back stronger than ever. Remember, setbacks are not roadblocks; they are merely detours on the path to success. Stay determined, stay focused, and let setbacks be the launching pad for your greatness.

Key Take Aways

  1. Embrace the Process: Setbacks are a normal part of any athlete's journey. Instead of viewing setbacks as permanent barriers, embrace them as temporary roadblocks and opportunities for growth.

  2. Learn from the Setback: Treat setbacks as learning experiences. Reflect on what went wrong, identify any weaknesses, and use the setback as a stepping stone towards improvement.

  3. Seek Support: Surround yourself with a strong support system during tough times. Reach out to coaches, teammates, family, or a sports psychologist for guidance, encouragement, and different perspectives. You don't have to face setbacks alone.

Most importantly - Stay Persistent!

Reflective Moment

How can I shift my mindset to view setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than as failures or roadblocks?