Decrease the Things That Cause You to Lose and Increase Your Wins

By Jeff Janssen, Janssen Sports Leadership Center

Baseball coach Casey Stengel once astutely observed, “Most games are lost, not won.”

Sadly he’s right.

Most teams lose games because they beat themselves, not because they force their opponents to beat them.

They beat themselves with mental mistakes, miscommunication, taking an opponent too lightly, overestimating an opponent, cracking in crunch time, letting opponents get in their head, getting distracted by team drama, poor leadership, not paying attention to details, losing their confidence or focus, missing signs or forgetting plays, abandoning the game plan, failing to execute, etc.

As you look at the losses you had last season, how many of them were ones that YOU were the primary contributors to and/or culprits in the losses?

_____ of our losses this past season occurred because we did things that caused us to lose the game more so than our opponent beat us.

The things that we did or didn't do that caused us to lose included:





Most team’s losses are at least partially if not primarily self-inflicted as they regretfully examine the mistakes they made, the times when they shot themselves in the foot, that ultimately cost them the game.

“Most teams actually self-destruct, as opposed to getting beaten by someone else.”
Tara VanDerveer, Stanford Women’s Basketball Coach

Championship Teams Eliminate Processes, Practices, and People that Lead to Losing

If you really want to win Championships, you can’t beat yourself and you must make your opponents bring their “A” game throughout the entire competition (which most teams struggle to do), forcing them to beat you.

You must avoid unforced errors, minimize undisciplined penalties, prevent communication issues where people aren’t on the same page, stay focused through adversity, and demote those who consistently can’t produce and possibly even cut people who clearly don’t fit with the team’s Mentality and Culture.

You must consciously and continuously seek to reduce and eliminate any processes, practices, and people that get in the way of winning and lead to losing.

“The first thing we have to learn is how not to beat ourselves.
When we learn how to stop losing, then we have to learn how to win.”
Bill Snyder, Legendary Kansas State Football Coach

Identify What Leads You to Lose

The first step is to identify the things that cause you to lose. Candidly and constructively examine the attitudes and actions that subtly or significantly contribute to, or flat out cause your team to lose.

  • Are you losing because of too many mental mistakes?
  • Are you losing because of chemistry and culture issues?
  • Are you losing because of poor leadership?
  • Are you losing because you’re not on the same page?
  • Are you losing because of drama and distractions?
  • Are people not doing enough to earn victories?


Pinpoint the problematic patterns that cause you to lose valuable inches and precious seconds in competition. Identify the attitudes and actions in the locker room, weight room, and classroom that water down, pollute, or kill your culture. Determine the specific ways your team shoots itself in the foot on or off the playing surface. Where might you not be performing up to your potential and why? Why don't you have the quality of leaders you need to succeed?

What Leads Your Team to Lose?






This is not a fun exercise but a vital and necessary one if your team wants to finally unshackle yourselves from these things that hold you back and prevent you from winning Championships.

“What it takes to win and the things that cause you to lose, I don’t think those have changed.”
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots Coach

Help Your Team Discover and Do What It Takes to Win Championships with Our 33% Off Team Discount

Looking to help your team decrease the things that cause you to lose and increase the things that lead to winning?

Be sure to check out our What It Takes to Win Championships Program. The program makes a perfect "Team Read" for this summer so you can develop the Mentality, Culture, and Execution necessary to win Championships.

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