Let’s be honest, no one likes losing, especially if it is something they are passionate about. But just because you lost this time around that doesn’t mean you can’t come out on top the next time. Youth sports can teach our kids a lot of great life lessons and arguably one of the best lessons to learn at a young age is that you can’t win them all. School, play, work, sports—sooner or later you’re not going to be #1 in something you care about. But guess what? That’s okay! Youth sports should teach our kids understand that failing is not the end of the world, but another chance at becoming great!
You can play your absolute best and still come in second.
When two teams are evenly matched and every player is giving their all someone is still going to be one run, one basket, one goal, or one touchdown behind when the clock runs out. Coming in second doesn’t mean that you didn’t play your heart out. Sometimes you can do your absolute best and still not win. And oftentimes losing a tight game is even harder than losing by a landslide but it’s important we teach our youth athletes that there is no shame in coming in second when you didn’t hold anything back.
You can’t get better without losing a few rounds.
A little healthy competition is a good thing for youth athletes because it encourages them to push a little harder, be a little more serious about practice, and gives them something to aspire to become. If you are always the best at everything you do what is the incentive to spend an extra ten minutes in the batting cages or run a few more laps around the soccer field? Losing can be frustrating and upsetting but it doesn’t have to be demoralizing. As coaches and parents we should teach our youth players how to look for opportunities in everything they do, including losing. You can learn a lot more from losing than you can from winning.
Losing stinks but you have to learn how to bounce back.
Are you going to let a loss completely undermine your confidence? Is the fear of losing going to overcome you love for playing the game? Everyone wants to be a winner, but the real lesson comes from losing at something and pulling yourself back together for round two. Dedication, perseverance and commitment are what make someone (or some team) real winners.
We know that youth athletes (and quite a few sports parents) can get really competitive when it comes to sports. And while we love to see that kind of passion and fire in a sports family it’s important to remember that your player is not defined by how many games they win or lose. There are plenty of teams out there that only win one or two games a season but they are excited to come to every practice, are eager to learn new skills, make great friends and have a blast playing sports. Winning is just the cherry on top.