This post was inspired by a USA Football article “How to come back from defeat,” which discusses dealing with losses in relation to a player’s purpose for participating in the first place.
In the NFL and NCAA, coaches & players are often judged by one stat– wins & losses. Rightfully so. Football at these levels is part of big business, and nothing is better for business than winning or worse than losing. But your child’s youth football team is not a business. Coaches and players won’t be fired for going 1-4 this season, and no one will even remember the scores or records a year from now. The only things that will remain are the moments your child experienced and lessons he learned throughout the course of the season.
The personal growth and improvement a young player can achieve by dealing with adversity, overcoming challenges, and earning their success far outweighs the benefits of experiencing perpetual success. Of course, it’s necessary for every young player to learn to win with good sportsmanship, but it’s also vital for their personal development to bounce back from a tough loss. The values developed through winning are just as many as those experienced in defeat. The arc of your child’s youth athletic career should contain a mixture of results & experiences in order to maximize personal development. Isn’t that why you put them in sports in the first place?
Rather than worrying about the result of the game, focus on the personal progress of your player from beginning of the season to the end, from one year to the next. Don’t compare your player to others. Instead, compare with earlier versions of themselves. If there’s consistent progress from day-day and year-year, your player will learn to love the game and football will play an important part of their life- win or lose.