Helping kids understand what success in sports is all about
Kids end up playing sports for a whole host of reasons. It’s not always the case, in fact it’s rarely the case, that a desire to succeed is the number one reason for their playing. it’s much more likely that they are enrolled in sports on behalf of their parents, or because their friends are doing it, or because they are curious, or they need something for fitness. The explicit desire to succeed is rarely the primary reason for joining.
Now that you have them on the team, though it’s important for you to set the tone about how to incorporate success into our vision for the team. It’s important that kids learn how to compete in a healthy manner and appreciate the importance of setting goals that can include winning the game.
I think it’s far more important though, it is important that the coach and parents decide explicitly, before the season even starts, on the definitions of success for the individuals and for the team. The coach needs to express his or her philosophy of success and have buy-in from the parents so that we speak to the young student athletes with a consistent and clear message.
For example, I use these five coaching points to define success for our kids: play hard, have fun, support the team, love the game and respect the other team and ref.
These are reinforced at every practice and every game. These are the measures by which we will judge our own success. I ask the girls to evaluate themselves before, during and after each game in order to emphasize what it takes to be a winner of our team.
It’s common in young teens to experience crisis of confidence. By having these simple and repetitive touchstones, we can help them focus on the things that really matter and thereby learn what the game has to teach us about life.
By making our expectations and standards clear, and creating a bridge from the field of athletics to the field of life, we are helping our young student athletes develop the skills you will need to define their own success in the future.
By having them grade themselves at each and every game, they get in the habit of comparing themselves against their goals which will help them achieve their goals in the future.
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