By Katie McKee
How do you define success? Is it by winning? By beating another? Is it by achieving your goals? What about simply having fun…is that considered success? These are questions that every team, athlete, coach, parent, and referee should ask himself or herself. Understanding where you stand when it comes to success can dictate your mindset and outlook, your coaching philosophy, where your emphasis lies, and how you communicate.
On the flip side, an internal definition of success is closely related to the growth mindset, where success is measured by the pursuit of goals and the desire to learn. Improvement is possible for anyone at any time, therefore some would argue that there is no such thing as failing. Essentially, someone who is internally motivated by self-improvement and the goal achievement isn’t terribly affected by outcomes. Sure, no one wants to lose! But losing is a lesson in itself, and provides an opportunity to reflect and find areas for growth. It should be WINNING AND LEARNING not winning and losing. This mindset can contribute to a more balanced outlook on success and in turn can motivate you (and your team) to achieve your goals. Taking a step back to recognize that there are positives that come along with losing, setbacks, and obstacles, can have an important influence on your confidence level. Changing what success means to you and your team can change everything, and give you a better perspective about outcomes. You can and should be learning from every experience, triumph or setback. Winning is important, but winning is not the only thing.
Let’s take a look at success from an external perspective. An external definition of success usually has to do with the outcome, for example, winning the game, beating another, or having the best game stats. This perspective of success can sometimes breakdown as follows: If you are the kind of person who measures success solely by external factors like winning and losing, you may feel disappointed with losing or not having the “best” stats. You might frustrate easily, and get upset with others for not performing as well as you’d like them too or helping you perform well. This mindset can affect your confidence and motivation, and can inhibit the attitude necessary to truly be your best. Because you’re so caught up with outcome, you’re missing out on the many positives and opportunities for growth that come along with the experience of participating in the sport you love.
SPRING 2020 AYSO.org
With that said, it’s important to consider what’s ageappropriate when it comes to success. Every team I’ve played on and every team I’ve coached has had an innate desire to win, regardless of age. In fact, with the 10U team I coached in the fall, I don’t think I brought up winning once, mostly because the kids talked about it enough on their own! Because of this, I was able to focus on teaching the game, it’s fundamentals, and making sure they had fun. There are ages where more emphasis should be placed on development, teamwork, and fun. In my experience, development and fun should take priority from ages 2-10. This age group is where fundamentals are learned, where a love for the game is developed, and winning is a byproduct of everything else. After all, we want kids coming back to the sport year after year. Once players get older (10U and above) and have a solid foundation of skills, development can become more specific and winning becomes a little more of an emphasis.