If you could make God bleed, people will cease to believe in Him.
There will be blood in the water,and the sharks will come.
-Ivan Vanko, Iron Man 2
This year, the Penn State volleyball team lost their first match in almost three years. That’s 109 straight wins, thank you very much. That is quite the streak and I’d imagine that their uniforms alone have won a lot of those matches for them… meaning that the intimidating force of their streak caused their opponents to falter rather than fight. It’s from that vantage point that I’m writing this post while sitting on a bus coming back home from a road trip… and as you may have guessed from the quotation at the beginning, we’re watching Iron Man 2. I heard the villain in the movie say those words and I thought about the impact of doing the unexpected… how to accomplish the upset and (on the flip side) how to bounce back from a significant loss.
Upset special: How to beat the team you’re not supposed to beat
Prepare: To pull off the big win, everyone needs to know what the streaking team wants to do in every situation. Your players (and coaches) need to be able to look at the opponent’s personnel and know exactly what they will try to accomplish. Preparation breeds confidence and I’d say you’re going to need confidence in copious amounts in order to pull this one off!
Believe: At the heart of the matter, your team needs to believe that the task can be accomplished. The coaching staff needs to point out at least three tangible ways that your team can defeat the streaking team. Every Goliath has its weakness and your team of Davids needs to be equipped with knowledge of where they should aim their slingshots.
Respond: The streaking team has crazy swagger because all they do is win, so your team has to be prepared for battle… the other team won’t just lie down. What does your team need to do when the streaking team makes an amazing play? Answer back. Again and again, until the mission is accomplished.
It’s not the end of the world: How to rebound from a significant loss
Perspective: In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal. Everyone’s healthy and whole right? No one’s dead, all limbs are attached. You lost a game… that’s all. The fact is, for a sixty to ninety minute period of time, your team wasn’t as good as it needed to be and the beauty of sport is that they get another chance to compete and play better.
Believe: The coach needs to remind the team of their goals and remind them of what they’re trying to accomplish over the course of the season. As long as everyone continues to believe in their goals and in each other… the team can rebound.