‘Stay cool in the heat’: the psychological impact of losing

The atmosphere in an AFL change room after a loss is often described as similar to a funeral, only at a funeral there's usually a sombre smile or two between mates who haven't seen each other in years.

There is absolutely no smiling in footy rooms post-defeat, the air heavy with a dreadful disquietude as once invigorated, vibrant athletes slump helplessly against walls.

No AFL/VFL team has gone winless in a season since Fitzroy in 1964, but Adelaide are giving that record a nudge in 2020's 17-round fixture.

The Crows haven’t won a game in more than an entire calendar year. Credit:Getty Images

More recently Fremantle didn't win until round 18 in 2001, while GWS lost 21 consecutive games between round 20, 2012 and round 18, 2013.

Imagine the psychological impact of enduring the 14 consecutive losing post-game atmospheres Adelaide has since round 21 last year, 11 of them coming in 2020.

Kevin Sheedy and his GWS side walk off the ground after a loss to Carlton in 2013. Credit:Getty Images

"I think it [the reason for not performing] is pressure. When you get under pressure … it does build when you're not getting the results you're after, what you can find is players try harder but in the wrong areas," Nicks said.

GWS coach for 2012 and 2013 (their first two seasons in the AFL) Kevin Sheedy said he made his players focus on winning quarters, not games, during their barren run.

"It was a better way of looking at it," Sheedy said.

Leigh Brown said keeping it simple was key for Fremantle in 2001. Credit:Getty Images

"We won quarters and I'd give a premiership point a quarter. We might not win the game and we played three great quarters, and on my ladder you get three points.

"Internal measurement is important for coaches."

By that measure the Crows are still ranked last, winning 13 quarters for 2020. Gold Coast in 2018 were similarly bad, winning 11 quarters over the first 12 rounds.

Sheedy said Nicks needs patience, something he reckons he had a lot of.

"I don't know Matthew, but make sure you stay cool in the heat," Sheedy said. "While it does get to a situation where it might seem everything you try is not working, it will turn around quickly.

"When players' confidence is being shattered you've got to be the most positive person, to give them an absolute plan and landscape on the way to the next win.

"That's why you're there. At no time should you be negative. No negativity in my coaching most of the time."

Leigh Brown, who was part of Fremantle's side in 2001, said the losses never got into the Dockers' heads before their drought-breaking win against Hawthorn.

"We were all putting in a lot of hard work and everyone wanted to do the right thing and we were trying to find different ways to be positive and tick off our own little wins along the way," Brown said.

"It wasn't complicated. It was about getting back to basics and working on those fundamentals and having some fun along the way.

"We knew we had to head down bum up too because we were a long way off the pace."

Source: Read Full Article