It’s always good to hear from dads and moms in the trenches of youth sports. Eddie Shackleford is one of those dads. He shares how he’s helping his son learn how to deal with the winning and the losing of youth sports.
As my 11-year-old son’s soccer season is coming to a close, I have come to realize that knowing how to lose well is just as important as graciously winning.
My son began playing soccer when he was four years old. His shin guards came up to his soccer shorts making it seem as if he had no knees, just shorts and shin guards.
We were fortunate that our son was originally placed on a team whose coach believed in teaching the game while creating a wholesome playing environment. We did keep score, and even as young children, the kids understood if they won or loss.
Thankfully, while my son was playing for the this coach they usually won. We had to teach him how to win graciously. There was no room for rubbing a win in the loser’s faces.
Instead, we taught him that the win itself is enough bragging–no need for added emotions. We did allow the kids to celebrate but never allowed them to degrade the players on the opposite side, and they were always expected to congratulate the other players for their efforts.
My son played on this fantastic coach’s team for several years, gaining a total of seven trophies most of which were first place championship trophies.However, the run of abundance was not to last. Eventually, the coach moved on to a different soccer league. My son’s current soccer coach is a fine man but a poor coach. He does not understand the fundamentals of the game, and as a result, the kids are often confused and out of position.
As you may have guessed, my son’s present soccer team is not good. In fact, they have yet to win a game. In fact, it was just recently at the end of the season that my son’s team actually scored a goal.
As a parent, I have experienced both extremes. My child has been on championship teams that rarely lose, and now he is on a team that has yet to win.
Which one is best for my son?
Obviously, my son loved winning and it was way more fun to watch games where his team dominated.
On the other hand, it has been an exercise in patience and humility to witness the weekly thrashings that my son’s team now endures. However, there are lessons that can only be taught when losing.
I believe my son has pushed himself as a soccer player this year more than even before. He wants to help his team win. He is one of the more experienced players on the team so he carries a heavy burden. He understands that he must play twice as hard as before just to make sure his team is not slaughtered.
Even so, they are still winless.
It’s been difficult for kids and parents alike. After all, everyone wants to win sometimes. However, a winless season is perhaps the greatest way to increase a child’s humility and encourage him to work harder instead of accepting his current abilities.
It just may prove later in life that this winless season spurred my son on to grow in his abilities more than being just one of several good kids on a championship team ever would have.
As a dad, I continue to help build my son’s character by being positive and having fun even through the losses.
Eddie Shackleford is a writer for Direct2TV and loves to write and research content about youth sports. He is a father and looks to improve his son’s sports experience while helping build his child’s character. You can follow Eddie @Eddie20Ford.
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