Every Play Counts!

Every play counts! Every play is important, yet no single play wins or loses you a game. It's the combined plays of an entire game that determines the final score. Each play matters, but each play is just a small piece of the pie.

Athletes need to understand this to help them perform better in games. Athletes often place too much importance on individual plays. If they make a mistake, they may think that it will cause them to lose the game. However, this isn't always true. There's usually time to make plays and redeem yourself. There's also times when athletes get too satisfied after making a good play and they become overconfident and complacent. For example, a basketball player may become overconfident after making a spectacular slam dunk, but they need to remember that it only counts as 2 points, and they have to continue to play well if they want to win.

Then there are athletes who don't place enough emphasis on individual plays. After making a mistake, they may think, "Oh well, it's not that big of a deal," which doesn't motivate them enough to fix their mistakes and play better. Or they may think, "It's just the first half, I don't need to try until the 4th quarter." These athletes fail to realize the importance of each play, and how each play contributes equally to the final outcome. It's not just the plays made in the 4th quarter that matter. The plays made in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarter matter just as much. The best athletes understand this, therefore they try to play each play as best as they can, from start to finish.

This attitude also helps you cope with losses. Many players beat themselves up too much for making a costly mistake in the 4th quarter. They may think, "If only I would have made that play, we would've won." This may be true, but these people forget that the mistakes made earlier in the game matter just as much. Just because plays made in the 4th quarter were more recent doesn't make them more important (this is called recency bias). Yes, you may have won the game if you made the last shot, but you may have also won the game if you didn't make the mistakes you made in the first half. And yes, you may have won the game if you made the last shot, but maybe you would have lost by a lot more if you didn't make all the great plays you made earlier in the game. 

Then there are athletes that get so happy after making a game winning shot, that they forget they could have easily won if they didn't make the mistakes they made earlier in the game. When you take the entire game into consideration and evaluate your performance more objectively, you can cope better with defeat and also learn more about what you need to improve on.

Here is my final advice:
Place the ideal amount of importance on each play. Know that each play is important, but not that important. Play with urgency from the beginning of the game, and play each play as best as you can, but also be able to brush off mistakes and refocus on the next play.
After you make a mistake, know that there's nothing you can do to undo it, so you might as well forget about it and stay positive, but at the same time, you need to resolve to not make the same mistake again.
After you make a great play, you can still be happy about it to draw confidence and motivation from it, but don't become too satisfied and overconfident. Stay motivated and refocus on the next play.
With this attitude, you'll reach closer to playing a complete game, where you play each play as best as you can!