Bounce Back From Mistakes Faster With This Drill

By Kevin Atkinson
August 17, 2023

Building strength for life

Personal training, in gym & online

Everyone Makes Mistakes… But they don’t have to stop you.

Here is one of the best sports lessons I was taught… and it’s pretty simple.

Have you ever met someone without a belly button?
Have you ever met someone who never made a mistake?

I am 100% certain that the answer to both these questions is NO.

EVERYONE makes mistakes. What separates great players from everyone else is what they do after.

One of the biggest mental mishaps I see across all sports is when athletes hang on to their mistakes throughout a competition. This is the WORST thing you can do. It pulls you out of the zone, thus pulling you out of the game.

The time to work on your mistakes is in PRACTICE, not while you are performing. Practice is the time to clean up mistakes. Games are the time to leave them behind you.

You need to learn and master a mistake ritual.

You are probably wondering what a mistake ritual is…

It’s a little routine that you can quickly go through right after a mistake (when there’s time) to help you mentally let go of a mistake. A mistake ritual is a quick little mental reset that gets you focused on what’s important, the next play.

Mistake rituals should be simple and concise, that when sufficiently practiced in practice can be done without thinking.

One that I used was subtly flashing the hand over my belly button to remind that EVERYONE makes mistakes, that it’s ok and to refocus on the next play. It was never a giant motion, and definitely not something my opponent could see me due. This one worked for me in the fast pace of a lacrosse game.

Sometimes I needed a HARD Reset. I would make mistakes and get so caught up in them that more mistakes would cascade down. In this instance I would undo my lacrosse glove and reattach the velcro, followed by a deep centering breath.

Another one that would work well for an athlete that has more time in between plays (such as baseball, tennis, golf, football) is picking up a few blades of grass, and focusing on the grass, before throwing it away. The purpose of the grass is to help the athlete switch their focus away from the mistake, take a deep breath, then throw the mistake away.

Mistake rituals work best when you can do something physical, (throwing away the grass, brushing your belly button, fixing your socks, reattaching the velcro of your glove) because it represents what you are trying to do mentally, let it go and reset.

Mistake rituals take more time explaining then to actually do them. Take some time to come up with a little ritual you can ALWAYS use whenever you mess up to help you get your head back in the game.

Sweat Athletics by Sweat 60 in Santa Monica develops youth athletes by introducing them to the following:

  • Foundational Strength Training in a safe environment
  • Sport Specific Strength Training and Nutrition
  • Resilience through the principles of developing an ironclad mindset

Run by former college athletes we have developed a clear system that gets athletes real results. For more information on securing your athlete a clear advantage email

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