The Importance of Handling Rejection

The Importance of Handling Rejection

Dealing with rejection is never easy for anyone. In competitive sports, rejection can feel insurmountable, especially for youngsters who are highly sensitive about their dreams. What they don’t fully understand is that being rejected doesn't mean someone isn't liked, valued, or important - it simply means that one time, in one situation, things didn't work out. Rejection hurts, but it's also impossible to avoid it altogether. Players feel disappointed with not enough playing time, teammates who don't work as hard as them, and coaches who don't believe in their game. Fans feel disappointed when their teams don't win, players get injured, and losing championship matches. There will always be more disappointment than success in Football and learning to handle them appropriately is extremely important.

As part of our Online Education Programme, we recently conducted a webinar to help our athletes learn the art of handling rejection. The session, carried out by none other than Kibu Vicuna, Head Coach, Kerala Blasters FC, explained the various ways of dealing with rejection. He also explained the counter steps that are essential for a player to cope up with it and evolve as a better player.

Kibu hit the ground running and introduced the topic by explaining the steps to deal with rejection in football:

1) Take time to process thoughts, feelings, and opportunities:

  • Do not overreact. Slow down and take some time to process the thoughts and feelings that arise when you've been rejected
  • Remember that something that looks like a rejection may actually give you new opportunities

2) Acknowledge your emotions:

  • The best way to deal with uncomfortable emotions is to face them head-on
  • Do not let your emotions affect you too much and keep your self-confidence

3) Face uncomfortable emotions:

  • Even the best teams sometimes lose, and the best players sometimes have non-performing phases
  • Football sometimes causes extreme emotions, but it’s important to control yourself and keep your composure

4) Avoid generalisation and refuse to let rejection define you:

  • Sometimes a person who gives an opinion about your skills has not had enough time, information, or possibilities to check your competence
  • If you were rejected because of the lack of some skills, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have other virtues

5) Have confidence in your ability:

  • Other people not always have the overall view on particular circumstances, ex. small injuries during the game, or some subjective situations. In this kind of situations, football has a more subjective perspective
  • Your perspective is different than others - you best know your efforts and have control of your own limits

6) Say no to your inner critic:

  • Football is not always objective, so one opinion may not reflect the general situation
  • Football works in different systems, use different profiles of players, etc.

7) Learn from rejection:

  • Try to listen and improve yourself
  • Use rejection as an opportunity to move forward

8) Ask for the review:

  • Remember that not all decisions are for a lifetime
  • Sometimes the rejection may work as an impulse for positive changes, so after you work on your weaker side and make some significant improvements, simply ask for a review of your skills

As the webinar progressed, Kibu went on to explain the best ways of making rejection easier:

  • Form:
    • Language
    • Non-verbal communication
  • Time:
    • Avoid rejecting someone in their difficult life moments, such as exams, personal problems
    • Trying to find the best, less harmful moment
  • Situation:
    • Whether the rejection is taking place in public, next to other peers, or face to face situation
  • Programs:
    • Helping players by developing an Elite Player Performance Plan for them

Kibu concluded the webinar by mentioning that rejection is a part of everyone’s life. Football is a game that can teach one about controlling negative emotions related to rejection. Only a small percentage of young players are able to breakthrough and become international stars. Even then there is always a chance that the player will need to keep adapting to new situations and deal with different kinds of temporary/permanent rejections. The key is to always believe in yourself, work hard, be patient, and try to see rejection in a new light and learn from it instead of being bogged down.

In case of queries or if you have any suggestions for webinar topics, please feel free to connect with us on Instagram/Facebook or email us at