Things turned pretty meta on the jam line last weekend, when one of the opposing blockers asked me before the jam start whether I was going to blog about the scrimmage. She’s a former teammate of mine who transferred to the league that boasts the top team in our region. Was I going to blog about the scrimmage? Indeed, I laughed, and what followed was an absolutely abysmal jam, where I ran out of gas and barely made it out of the pack before two minutes expired. Here I am, blogging about it.

A loss can show you where your weaknesses lie as a team — an opponent’s coach said this once a bit smugly after besting us in a bout during our 2011 season, but it’s absolutely true. It can also show you where your weaknesses lie as an individual. Thinking about it that way turns out to be a decent trick to transform the disappointment of a loss into something constructive. That includes the bouts where it turns out your weaknesses are everything — skills, strategy, communication, awareness, teamwork, and the list goes on. I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy here, but I’m also no Pollyanna and the truth is we couldn’t get much going on during our scrimmage. The point differential on the final score was pretty sad-looking. It was one of the ones where putting any points on the board turns out to be a victory.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t a few virtuoso moments during those hard 60 minutes. I saw one of my teammates start to really distinguish herself as a triple threat. I saw another of our jammers sneak by on the inside line time and again like she owned the move. Another one who had never played on a charter roster before delivered an impressive jammer takeout near the end of the game.

Myself, I started thinking about trying to execute a few skills I’m working on in the off-season. It doesn’t sound impressive — started thinking about trying — but even thinking about what I want to do during the chaos of a jam is an improvement over thinking I want to do it when reviewing my goals off the track. Sometimes that’s what you have to focus on. I want to be a bolder player. There’s quite a lot of je ne sais quoi about that statement, and if that’s all I was striving toward without specific steps to achieve that goal in mind, it would be a useless line of thinking. I know at this point my body can physically execute the skills I aim to master, however, my brain is holding me back.

All that said about my personal goals, a blowout post-mortem provides the opportunity to identify the room for improvement in more areas than just the ones you’ve identified from the safety of your own team’s practices. I hope that doesn’t sound either negative or naive. Maybe sometimes it’s okay to just say: Well, that sucked. And move on. But I choose to look for lessons rather than succumb to negativity. It can be some hard lumps when a superior team shows you exactly where you are. But the experience can also illuminate the path you need to follow.