May 25, 2015 - Performance vs. Results

Far too many players judge themselves by their results rather than their performance. While it’s importance to use results as goals, all you can really control is your performance. What’s the difference?

Performance is what you do. Results are what happens based on the performances of both you and your opponent, as well as perhaps some luck. (Bad luck comes in many ways, such as nets and edges; bad draws, such as drawing a playing style you don’t play well against; or ill-timed injuries or illnesses.)

It’s normal to be unhappy with a poor result. But there’s a huge difference between a high-performance loss and low-performance win. You need to judge them separately. There really are four possibilities:

  1. Happy with result/happy with performance
  2. Happy with result/unhappy with performance
  3. Unhappy with result/happy with performance
  4. Unhappy with result/unhappy with performance

The first case is win-win - go celebrate! Have a hot fudge banana split. That doesn’t mean you can relax and rest on your laurels. You might be able to coast and keep your current performance level, but guess what? The players you beat are all gunning for you, and will likely raise their performance, especially against you. So if you want to keep the same result, you need to continue to improve your performance.

The second case is cause for celebration, but should leave you determined to play better. No hot fudge on your ice cream. You won, and should be happy with this result, but know you should have performed better. Perhaps you won because the other guy didn’t perform well enough or perhaps you got lucky. You should celebrate the win, but be dying to get to the playing hall to practice and get your performance to where it should be.

The third case is bittersweet. You played well, and yet you lost. Have some plain vanilla ice cream. Now you have to make a calculation: Do you want to put in the effort needed to improve your performance to the point where you might change the result? There are no guarantees; you may practice and train with the best coaches and still lose, even to the same player who might also improve his performance. But guess what? If you put in the time, your changes of changing the result to a win go up dramatically. And even if you don’t change the result in question, you’ll be a better player, and you will have better results overall.

The fourth case is the toughest. You played poorly and of course have nothing to celebrate. No ice cream for you. You know you could have played better. You should be dying to get to the playing hall so you can practice and eventually put in the performance you know you can do. You may or may not change the result, but you’ll at least be satisfied that you did your best – and your chances of the changing the result to a win go up dramatically.

In all four cases, you need to examine the match, see where you won and lost, and practice to improve your performance in both of those areas for next time. Bottom line: Judge your performance by your actual performance, and use results as goals to reach by improving your performance.