Setbacks are a part of life, however with children’s views on the world being fairly simplistic when growing up, it is important for peers to ensure that they see the bigger picture, in particular that winning is not the be all and end all when it comes to sport.
Adults understanding that participation is the most important thing, rather than the result, is one thing, however ensuring that children have the same mindset is a different matter. Youngsters are unlikely to have the ability to process losses in the same way in which adults do, meaning that disappointments are more difficult to get over.
Whilst the winning feeling is a good one and should be celebrated, parents and coaches should prioritise sportsmanship wherever possible, as this will help them to handle both success and failure in a positive manner. So, just what steps can be taken to ensure that winning is not seen as everything, even for the most competitive of young athletes?
Outline Expectations Early On
Whether you are a coach or a parent, it is important to have a conversation regarding what your expectations are for those involved in sport, explaining what the purpose of playing actually is. Part of such a discussion will be letting the child know that the result is not important, with personal and physical development and enjoyment being of greater emphasis.
How Feelings Can Effect Behaviour
There are likely to be times as to when the emotions and feelings of youngsters get the better of them and this is reflected in their behaviour. As a result, it is crucial that adults acknowledge and discuss the different feelings in which children are likely to be going through in sport, as well as the methods of overcoming them.
When watching on from the sidelines, it can be easy to panic if your child becomes upset or loses their cool, however such feelings or actions are only likely to get worse if they see frustration from you too. So, be sure to stay calm at all times and reflect on situations afterwards.
What Can We Learn from Losing?
Losing can quickly be turned into a positive in many cases, which is something that children must learn quickly. The experiences gained from disappointments are often greater in the long run, while youngsters are often kept grounded and motivated in such situations too.
Winning & Losing Graciously
When losses are suffered, it is important that children understand the need to be gracious, which includes congratulating opponents and not being sore losers. However, it is also important that youngsters win graciously, without rubbing it in the faces of others or becoming arrogant. After all, youth sport is about enjoyment and socialising. Whatever the situation, it is important that coaches and parents prepare kids for situations in which may occur.
Whilst the remit for coaches in the past was to simply win, those involved in educating within sport now have a range of other responsibilities. This is especially true when children are involved, with modern-day coaches having to ensure that they deliver in all areas.