Monday, October 11, 2010

It's about time you started losing.

"I've missed over 9,000 shots in my career.  I've lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I've failed over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed." -- Michael Jordan

I don't like making mistakes.  Anybody who plays with me on a regular basis will tell you that.  I miss a short hop or an L-cancel, I have to go into mental damage control mode.

I'm a perfectionist.  I hate screwing up.  I hate losing.  I hate the thought that people watching me will think I'm anything but a great player.  This applies in friendlies, money-matches, and tournament.  I've mellowed out a lot over time, but this is still very much true of me, regardless of what I'm doing, regardless of whether I've even done it before.

Have you ever worked a dish-washing shift in a restaurant?  I hadn't, until about a week ago, when they stuck me in front of a sink during lunch rush and said "go get 'em tiger."  I panicked.  I could spray shit with water, but that was about it.  I didn't know where things went, or which detergents to use on which type of dishes.  What I can just rinse off, and what has to go in the industrial torrential bacteria annihilator we call a dishwasher.  And every time I got something wrong or fell behind or put something in the wrong place or someone corrected me, I got irritated.  Over something I had NO REASON to expect myself to do well at.  Ridiculous?  Yeah, I'd say so.

You can tell where I'm going with this.  Losing a friendly kind of sucks, but who cares?  What matters is that you learn from it.  The example I give to people is this: you and a friend play 100 matches.  98 of them are friendlies, and you lose all of them.  You spend them trying new stuff, practicing new techniques, figuring out what works, what doesn't, and your friend just plays the same the entire time.  The other two are tournament matches, and you 2-0 him.  That's 1 in 50 wins, but you advance in the bracket.  Which matches matter more?  Which matches do people care about?

"Oh, but I beat him in friendlies."  People say it all the time, friendlies don't matter.  Or rather, they do matter, but only because of what they teach you.  People remember the tournament results.  They remember who took first.

Here's an interesting flip side; people get mad about other people camping in friendlies, even though it's a strategy that you should learn to deal with if you want to be a top player.  Friendlies are the optimal environment for testing new strategies and counter-strategies, but people don't want to practice against camping.  Why?  It's boring.  You shouldn't try so hard to win in friendlies, etc.

Yet the very reason that those people are pissed off about camping is because they are losing to it!  "You shouldn't try so hard to win in friendlies!  Let ME win instead!"

Here's the point: friendlies are for practicing and trying new things, not for keeping score.  You try to win them, but not because winning the friendly matters.  It's because honing a skill properly so that it becomes a winning technique matters.  And if you have to lose a lot so that you can actually win when it counts, so be it.


  1. Well said. The 2nd and 3rd to last paragraphs are exactly what i tell to one of my training partners all the time! Good read! Thanks for posting.

  2. Excellent, although sometimes friendlies could also be considered just having a good time.

  3. So I found this Blog because I spent some time talking and playing with you last weekend (at TO6, I'm Josh/Darksyde) and I was going to post on your SWF wall. However, this post and every else I've read here so far really intrigues me.

    I used to hear about your temper and it sounds like it mirrors mine and now I understand. From the way you describe it, it sounds like we suffer from the same kind of perfectionist mental state about things we do in life. People often confuse it for anger AT them, but almost always it's directed at (or at least stems from) myself and the way I think. I do the same thing with other games I've played and jobs I've had (including several jobs that involved some dishwashing). This post pretty much described how I feel and I may repost it elsewhere.

    As far as the latter half, I don't know about friendlies. There are times when I feel I really hate camping/cg'ing etc in friendlies because I feel like you are robbing the other person of their fun but I can see your point.

  4. Josh: It helps if you're actually practicing *with* them and figuring things out together rather than just being a jerk, lol. Camping somebody's ass off in a friendly and saying, "I'm practicing" can come across as a jerk move, and if you don't want that it would help to tell the other person beforehand. That way they know you're just exploring strategies and they can get in on it.

    If you sit down with somebody saying "hey, can we see how DI affects this chaingrab?" then they'll totally go along with you, usually. Same with most stuff.

    Unintentionally: I love having fun too. If you're sitting down and playing to just "have a good time," then go for it. I'm not here to tell people "play my way rargh." But sometimes people take their friendlies seriously, don't have fun, don't learn, and then go "why aren't I getting better?" This is just advice for those folks.