I commented on a post in a soccer forum last night and I thought I would also share the post here. The question was centered on the topic of…”Is it okay to push kids to WANT to WIN?” This is a very sensitive subject in this country and the more people I talk to the more complex the answers get. Here is a summary of my reply….
Players should want to WIN, that is why they play. Lets not sugar coat it, winning is fun! Losing, although not fun, should be motivating, and we should try and find the motivating factors in a loss that drives our training forward, motivating them, striving to win.
Quote from an English Coach on the Soccer Forum:
“As a coach I view everything as a step towards a realistic goal and then provide the emotional scaffolding to support the player as they climb…”
In the US, we are slowly becoming a country that is telling kids that it is okay to lose… but what I see everyday is that they are losing the WILL to WIN and becoming very, very soft. Sure, it is okay to lose and as one coach pointed out around 90% of teams in your league end the season as losers. But it is more fun to win! And why is it so bad to tell our kids this? I told my 9 year old daughter in her first swim meet to have a blast, enjoy every second (like it is the only meet you will every compete in)…and if you have a shot to win at the end of the race, give it everything you have, everything. Refuse to get beat! That way at the end of the day you will know that you competed to the best of your ability. She won all 4 races, and had the time of her life! And in the final race she tried harder than I have ever seen her try at anything.
In my opinion, the problem is that we don’t push the development that coaches like the one I quoted above are talking about. If we developed the kids (give them the athletic and technical skills to PLAY the game at a higher level), they would enjoy playing more. If they enjoy the game more, they play more often and their understanding (tactical knowledge) improves. They get better…
The better they get the more they feel that have vested in the process and the more we need to push the FUN of winning, the FUN of competing and Fun of the preparation (training) to be the best we can be (the journey). Instead, we don’t develop the players at young ages like we should. We just expect them to be good and to do much of it on their own. We become frustrated with their lack of enthusiasm, and they see themselves as not living up to the coaches standards (this is not FUN anymore). So parents console their kids (as parents should do) with an attitude of “It’s okay to lose…It’s only a game.”
After a few years of “It’s okay to lose, it’s only a game.” the WILL to WIN is lost and the players feel that they have little to work towards. This can and most often will carry over into other aspects of their life (school, work, family, etc.). Winning is tough, preparing to win is tougher and comming back from a lose is probably the most difficult thing they will face. But, if they do come back from a lose and compete and win…the toughness and the work hard and you can do anything mentality becomes fun again!
My point is shorter than my post…
Give them to tools…Give them the support…Encourage them to Enjoy the process and never let them lose the will to win!