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Tips for Handicapping a Team After a Major Loss

Losing a game is never good, but some losses are more devastating than others.  When a team goes into a game fully expecting to win, and all the hype is on their side, and then they lose, the clash of reality against expectations can be crushing. Any time a team gets trounced, losing by 20 or 40 points, it can have a lasting impact on the rest of their season.


Sometimes teams bounce back right away, but other times, the loss leaves a long shadow behind it.  Here are some questions to ask yourself to figure out what the likely meaning and impact of a devastating loss will be:

  • Was the loss expected or not?  If a loss was unexpected, it is going to throw a team off balance going forward, because it will cramp their confidence and confuse them.  If a loss was projected, though, the team is more likely to bounce back, since it was fully expected.  It doesn’t leave confusion in its wake.
  • Why did the team lose?  Sometimes the issue is obvious; other times it isn’t.  If the loss was the result of a fluke, the team may be able to move on.  If they can’t get to the bottom of the issue and it wasn’t a fluke, the issue may repeat in the future.  If they can figure it out, it is a question of whether they can adequately address it going forward.  If they can, you can expect improvement.  If they don’t or won’t, then you can expect more of the same.  Is this a pattern?  Look over recent games to see whether there are any deep-rooted bad habits coming into play here.
  • What was the team’s attitude going in?  What is their attitude now that the game is over?  Usually it is tough to get any honesty out of players in interviews since they are following carefully crafted PR scripts.  But sometimes after a crushing loss, someone will let some real and valuable insight slip.  Pay attention to comments over the next week.  If players were really negative following a match, see if they lighten up or not as the week goes on.


The real key with major losses is not to get too reactive.  You want to think, not jump, to conclusions, and you don’t want to let your emotions sweep you away.  It is normal to feel anger, frustration, and pessimism, especially if you had money on the recent match and you lost it.  But that is no reason to jump to the conclusion that the team is done, and that they are going to fall apart over the rest of the season.  They may, they may not.  When you understand what went wrong and what the team is or is not doing to prevent it from happening again, you will know where you should stand with your money.

Read on my articled on interpreting a shocking loss in football part 1 and part 2 for more tips on this topic.


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