You just signed the slip for your opponent and checked the drop box. It’s the end of round three and you just got your third loss. An open this size and you already know that your tournament is over. The feeling of defeat looms over you as you meet up with your friends and figure out what to do for the rest of the day.

For a grinder this may be the hardest thing to overcome. It’s natural to feel down after a string of losses. But the best way to rebound for your next tournament is to shake it off, figure out what went wrong, and build toward the event.

Shake It Off

Shaking it off sounds relatively simple and easy to do, but it can be harder than you’d think. As a grinder, you can’t dwell or beat yourself up too long because you don’t have much time until the next tournament. You want to learn from each tournament, but it is important not to worry too much about any one event.

The more you focus on the last tournament, the less mental bandwidth you have to prepare for the next one. You don’t want to get in the way of your own improvement from week to week. This applies to emotional aspects of the game as well. Shaking off your losses helps you reset emotionally so you are ready for a solid bounce back event. Don’t bring negativity into your next week of preparation, or to the tournament.

What Went Wrong

While I travel home from a tournament, I reflect and analyze the weekend regardless of my results. This analytical approach helps you rebound after a tough weekend. A technical focus can help you learn from your mistakes without dwelling in general negativity. Some of the things I look for particularly are: any issues with preparation, my matchups, and small things that may affect my performance.

As you consider your past preparation, focus on how much testing you were able to get in. Did you need to spend more time preparing for the tournament, or did you practice the wrong things? When you recognize the flaws and holes in your testing, you can change your approach for the following weekend. To use a personal example, let’s look at SCG Syracuse last weekend. The week leading up to it, I could not test as much as I would have liked because of real life needs, and it definitely showed in my play. That was one of the key factors of a poor performance for me.

Evaluate the matchups you faced after an event to determine how you would expect to perform against those specific decks. Sometimes you face horrible matchups all day, and you would have had to get very lucky to have won many matches at all. This can help level your head, and also shake it off. In Syracuse for the main event, I played against Burn and Humans, which are bad match ups for Delver. Sometimes this happens, and it is out of your control.

Some small things can cause issues with a performance at a tournament. Sleeping is huge the night before; it helps you stay focused throughout the following day. Make sure to have snacks and stay hydrated. Forgetting food and water can break your event. This is something I struggle with normally at events, and it definitely affects my play.

Build for the Future

The most important part of a failed magic event is what you learn from it. The only way to improve and rebound from it is focsuing honestly on how you can do better. The way I see it, the event isn’t truly wasted if you are able to take something away. It can be as small as learning about tournament rules, to as big as learning how to deal with a loss. When you look back and see everything you took away and learned, you can flip a negative weekend into a positive one.

After having a bad weekend in Magic, take some time to reflect back on these things. This is the quickest way to “recover” and get back ready to battle again!

Zack is a SCG grinder with one ultimate goal: getting to the Players Champ. Based out of NYC, you can find him in other cities every weekend trying to hit that goal.  When he isn’t traveling he streams. Follow his journey on Twitter!

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