Winning and Losing? The value of both!
Having been involved in junior sport for a number of years now, I know the value of winning and losing for my children and the teams my children have been a part of.
Not all teams will win all the time. My children have been involved in teams that haven't won game during the season, but still enjoy playing and this is because they enjoy football and the social aspect of the game.
In the first season we had Under 12 girls, they lost a game by 123 pts, but I distinctly remember the girls being excited because they felt that they had played their best game for the season, even though this was their biggest loss for the season. To me this epitomises junior sport, they were having fun, having a go and making new friends and celebrating the small successes. They felt they had won that day even if the scorebaord didn't show that.
Most importantly they were OK with losing, and understood it’s part of the process.
Sadly, many adults struggle with losing far more than their kids. While everyone likes to win, none of us do all the time. The players will be disappointed with losing, but how often are they just keen to get to the canteen for something to eat or hang around kicking the football with their team mates or sit around having a chat regardless of the result in a game. Within 10 minutes of game finishing, they don't care about the result.
What do they learn by winning and losing:
In winning, they learn to be humble, but if you watch players that go through a season or two undefeated, they haven't learnt this and you will see players that don't know how to cope when things don't go their way and they lose a game. So losing is just as important as winning.
In a team that is losing all the time builds philosophy, camaraderie, sportsmanship and the idea of improvement being a series of incremental victories. The team may falter, but teammates improve, moment by moment. The best skills players in these teams develop is resilience, hard work and patience and they also know how to celebrate the small successes.
A recent study by George Washington University asking children why they participated in sport, 90% said that they played for fun - there were 81 different definitions of what fun meant to the study participants. Winning was ranked by children as the 48th most important reason to describe fun.(http://youthreport.projectplay.us/the-8-plays/ask-kids-what-they-want/)
Trying your best, being treated with respect by the coach, and getting playing time are the most important factors that kids define fun by. Tournaments and trophies? The kids aren't playing for those.
Trying your best is essentially the idea of giving 100%. It’s that winning mentality, and if we can continue to foster it, we are one step ahead of the game in helping to create “winners.” And this will (hopefully) carry through to everything they do.