We learned one season just how important it is to look for the small victories. My 16-year-old daughter returned from a summer missions trip with a broken toe just as volleyball tryouts at her high school were starting. She began the season late and had barely practiced for a week, when she tweaked her ankle in practice. Another set-back. She was out for two more weeks and when she was pronounced “cleared to play” by the doctor, she enthusiastically jumped back in, expecting to pick up right where she left off. Unfortunately, her progress was slow and her frustration evident. We began to look for little steps of progress, acknowledging and rejoicing in each small victory.
Sometimes we parents overlook small victories because we are too busy looking for the big stuff–the touchdown passes, winning goals, home runs, or game-high points scored in a basketball game. Yes, we should rejoice in their extreme successes, but there are many more times when we need to rejoice in smaller victories for they are the stuff that everyday sports–and life–are made of.
Small victories come in many shapes and sizes and are totally unique to each player. What may be a small victory for your child is ho-hum to another. Then again, what may be a small victory to your athlete may also be a major feat for someone else.
Small victories are subtle. They do not jump out at you. In fact, many parents and athletes miss them because they are too busy focusing on the negative while waiting for the really BIG victories to come along. The minutes your child is not playing, the basketball shots missed, the volleyball digs shanked, the passes dropped.
Noticing small victories means we pay attention to more than statistics; it means we pay attention to our child’s character.
Did you notice how the coach kept you in at a key point in the game? (your hard work is paying off)
You took some good shots! (you are learning to take some risks)
Way to dive for that ball! (you are a fighter)
I’ve notice lately that you are very encouraging to your teammates on the court. (you are a team player)
You were really working hard tonight. (you were giving it your best effort)
Our positive words say a lot to our athletes, but when we ignore small victories and express negativity, they only hear one thing: I just can’t seem to please my parents. Is that really what you want your child to hear?