How to Play From Behind

There are teams that play well when they're winning or when the game is close, but they struggle playing from behind. These teams need to learn how to play well from behind.

When it comes to playing from behind, the first and most important thing you need to do is maintain your motivation and confidence, and not get discouraged. However, maintaining effort and confidence is not enough. You also need to stay composed, patient, and not panic. When teams fall behind early in games, they sometimes panic, get impatient, and try to do something special to quickly get back into the game. This however often leads to more mistakes and increases their deficit.

Here is a recent example of this happening. In the AFC divisional round of the 2020 NFL playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens fell behind early against the Tennessee Titans. It seemed like the Ravens panicked slightly and went away from their normal game plan, which is running the ball. Instead, in attempt to catch up quickly, they chose to pass the ball more than they normally do. This didn't work. It may have even made things worse.

I believe the Raven's could have increased their chances of winning by doing a better job remaining calm and patient. I think they should have stuck with their original game plan and continued to focus on running the ball. You may be thinking, "They didn't have enough time. If they ran the ball too much, too much time would run off the clock and they wouldn't have caught up in time. They needed to pass because they were in a hurry."
This is where I disagree. I believe they did have enough time. Even when the Titans took a 28-6 lead, there was still over 19 minutes left in the game. And they definitely had enough time when they were only down 21-8 at about midway through the 3rd quarter. It would have been difficult, but they still could have came back in time without completely abandoning their original game plan. They could have slowly chipped away at the lead and maybe they would have had a chance to tie (or win) the game on the final possession. They obviously didn't think this was possible. Instead they got impatient and tried to catch up sooner, which backfired on them.

This also happens a lot in basketball when a team falls behind early. They think that the only way to come back is by shooting lots of 3's. This of course often doesn't work. Instead, it's often smarter to stay calm and patient, stick to your normal game plan, and slowly chip away at the lead. Even though this is often the smarter option, many players and coaches are uncomfortable with it. They don't like the stress of losing, so they get impatient and try to rush the process.

However, there are times when you actually don't have enough time to stick to your normal game plan. In these cases, you truly do need to take more risks in order to catch up in time. While some teams are too impatient, other teams are too patient and they don't play with enough urgency and don't take the necessary risks in order to come back. While some people are uncomfortable with the stress of losing, others are uncomfortable with the stress of taking risks and going outside of their game plan.

In order to play your best from behind, you need to be comfortable with both of these things. You need to have the ideal balance of patience and urgency. You need to know when you have enough time to stick with your original game plan, and you need to know when you don't have enough time to stick with your original game plan (when you need to start taking risks).

In conclusion, if you do the following three things well, you will play better from behind.
1) Maintain confidence and motivation.
2) Have a better understanding of strategy, risk/reward calculations, and clock management.
3) Cope better with stress (of either losing or taking risks), and don't let emotion dictate your decision making.