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2017-07-02 20:12:00 CEST

Sax on the Beach: Winning and losing

Read the third installment of Ben Saxton's Swatch Major Series blog

Winning and losing is part of life as an athlete on the Swatch Major Series. Everyone loves to win. Nobody likes to lose. There is so much that goes into a tournament. Physically, mentally and emotionally. For those two teams that win in any given event, it’ll be euphoric (or so I can imagine, I have yet to win a gold). The other 94 teams (men, women, main draw and qualification), will end our tournament with an eliminating loss, and likely, disappointment.

The strength of the tour these days is so high that everyone in beach volleyball knows the taste of defeat. Can you guess how many semifinalists from Fort Lauderdale returned to the semifinals in Poreč? Don’t worry, I won’t make you look it up, the correct answer is zero. There is not one team that’s safe from being upset, but this also gives every team hope. If everyone can lose, it stands to reason that everyone has a chance to win also, so we always believe that this time might be our time.

Everyone yearns for the glory of gold, it’s why we all play. I’d like to give a huge congrats to Pedro Solberg and Guto Carvalhaes and fellow Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan for earning the big prize here in Poreč. Enjoy the moment, a celebration is well deserved, and Croatia will forever be a special place for both teams. But this blog is about the rest of us losers. We devote ourselves to the game, fully aware that the odds (and 47 opposing teams) are against any particular team coming out on top.

So why do we do it, and how do we deal with it? It’s always easy to win, but what does it take to overcome a loss and re-light that fire to compete every week? Now I can never speak for everyone. Every team and every player approaches it differently, but I think that most of us have a few things in common.

First is our selective memory. We all have our enormous egos to protect (what’s that, just me?) Considering we all lose so often, it’s crazy how many of us are confident we can win our next game. We could use a loss as an excuse to be pissed off for the next week, but most of us will see it as a learning experience, to become productive and use our downfalls to solve future problems. Losses are never enjoyable in the moment, but if we focus on how to improve on mistakes rather than just dwelling on the mistakes themselves, that’s where the biggest growth is often made.

Next is insanity. It takes a little bit of crazy (or a lot of crazy if your country only has two months of summer) to decide to play beach volleyball for a living. Constantly pushing our minds and bodies to the limit in all sorts of conditions (snow being one of them, as of this season). Putting complete faith that our abilities to keep a ball in the air are better than another team in order to pay our bills at home.

We’re also all devoted to two points. Two little points can make or break a whole tournament. We spend all our time trying to earn those two important points, and it’s impossible to know exactly which two will make all the difference. At the Swatch Major Series in Poreč, there were over 20 matches that came down to the final two points. For us, if we had gotten two more points in any of our matches in pool play, we would have advanced to the elimination phase where anything is possible. Two points separate the highs of a win from the lows of a loss, so we’ll do whatever we can to get them.

Finally, we have to be able to step back and take a look at life. Every athlete is putting forth their best effort to bring top quality beach volleyball to the Swatch Major Series because that’s what we love to do. We get to share the sport with thousands of amazing fans all over the world, but especially the crowds at the beautiful venues in Fort Lauderdale, Poreč, and next week Gstaad.  Losing a match or tournament may be difficult, but in the end, everyone who gets to play a Swatch Major Series event is a winner.

Ben.

 

Like what Ben writes? Read his firstsecond and third blogs for us. Enjoy!

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