Along with the spirit of competition comes the reality that there will be winners and losers at the end of each game. Good coaches often tell their teams “It’s not about wins and losses, it’s about wins and lessons.” This seemingly simple remark actually has much more depth than you might think, especially as this applies to student athletes. Just think about how many times you have watched your child lose a game, but rather than capitalize on lessons learned, instead quickly dismissed the game as a loss without much to examine. Ironically, it is in moments of adversity, frustration, and failure that many invaluable lessons can be learned, making the “wins, losses, & lessons” coaching philosophy something youth coaches and athletes can benefit from in the future.
The 1st thing people want to talk about isn’t…..a loss
One of the best and fastest ways to separate from the competition is to learn from your toughest days. The reality, however, is that most people quickly dismiss their bad days and instead only focus on the good. What’s interesting about this approach from a learning standpoint is that you’ll get better a lot faster by learning what you did wrong, and the only way to do this is to actually examine and scrutinize tough games. The challenge to this way of thinking is that our ego often gets in the way — in other words, it doesn’t feel good to re-live tough days, so we don’t. When we win we feel great, but when we lose we quickly delete the experience from our minds.
Make every sport experience a win or a lesson
If you want to reach your full potential, then it is imperative that you learn from all your experiences in life. By changing the paradigm from wins and losses to wins and lessons, future growth soon replaces missed opportunities. Developing this way of thinking takes a strong desire to be the best, maturity, focus, and resiliency — qualities that all human beings can improve upon if they so desire. By framing all games as learning experiences, parents and coaches benefit by working with more interested, compliant, and motivated kids. Keep in mind this philosophical approach does not mean to ignore mistakes and losses, but to instead face them and work to find ways to use failure as a teaching tool.
Small adjustments often lead to big improvements
Sometimes at my office when working with clients I make a seemingly small, minor suggestion that because it appears so trivial it is quickly dismissed. For example, arguably the fastest and most effective way to regulate anxiety is to learn to use rhythmic, deep breathing. The problem, however, is that breathing is something we do every moment of our lives, making it sometimes difficult to sell the message how effective deep breathing is in anxious situations. The irony is that while breathing is simple, it is also invaluable, and it is often this seemingly small adjustment in training that ultimately leads to measurable future improvement.
While it may not always be a pleasant experience looking back at a tough game, it could end up being an invaluable lesson if the ultimate goal is to reach your full potential. Wait a day or so to allow your emotions to subside, then make it a point to look more closely at what you did right and wrong, and the changes you plan on making for the future. And remember, we all fail in life, it’s what we do with failure that separates champions from the competition.