Son, "If You Ain't FIRST, You're LAST!"

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The 2013-2014 winter sports season is drawing to a close for most youth sports and high school sports teams. Our culture will celebrate this season's champions, you can count on it, those champions will be crowned. And how about all those other numerous "almost" champions, that didn't quite get it done? They will be sent home without ceremony. Of those "almost" champions:

Many will wonder if they will EVER win. 
Many will wonder what they, personally, did wrong. 
Many will wonder if playing is really WORTH IT? 
Many will blame their loss on injury. 
Many will blame their loss on others: coaches, teammates, officials.

Some will be happy the season is finally OVER. 
Some will decide to work out harder and come out NEXT YEAR, better. 
Some will decide the work is not worth it and NOT come out next year.

But rest assured, of all these thousands of young people, mislabeled "losers" by so many in our society: ALL WILL BE HURTING!

 
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March SADNESS is right around the corner! Are you ready?

I discovered a short article addressed to parents of athletes that had just lost "the game". I thought it was the perfect article for this time of year. Let's all of us remember to take the time to THINK and EMPATHIZE before we TALK to our kids/players about how they could have and should have played.

(*And this goes for our coaches that often feel just as bad!)

 

What to Say If Your Kid Loses a Game By Yahoo! Contributor Network | Team Mom – Mon, Jun 11, 2012 12:43 PM EDT Content by Kim Daugherty.

If your child plays sports, he or she will inevitably lose at least a few games. Even the most skilled and talented of teams will meet their match or have an off day. While losing a game may be common, it is never easy. It is far more difficult, however, when the loss is at a big game like a championship game or one against a big rival.

So what do you tell your child after a loss? Kids who enjoy playing sports often have a strong desire to win, and any loss is a tough one.

1. Take a breather. As a parent, you know just how emotional games can be when you watch them from the sidelines or the stands. Just imagine how emotional those games are for your child who is out there giving it his or her all. Give your child a hug, but sometimes it is best to just let the emotions of the game die down before anything is said. Depending on how big of a loss it is, this may be just a few minutes, or it may be hours or even days.

2. Ask your child about his or her thoughts on the game. There have been so many times over the course of being a sports parent when I have seen one thing on the field, and my kids have told me something entirely different happened that I didn't see. Sometimes they have said they got hurt during the game but struggled through. Sometimes the coach told them to do something I didn't hear, another player was out of position, and more. Before you offer any advice or encouragement, take time to find out what they think about the game.

3. When your child has a bad game. Some days kids feel like they had a bad game and were a contributing factor to the loss. Talk to your child about how they think they played. Sometimes kids dwell on one mistake they made, and they beat themselves up over it. No child is perfect, and even professional athletes aren't perfect on the field. Remind your child that it takes a whole team to win or lose. If your child feels continuously outmatched on the field, you can offer to do some extra practices at a local park or pay for private training if it is in your budget.

4. Not always the best. The fact is that even the best team is not always the best. A winning team will advance to play against progressively more skilled teams, and eventually most teams will experience a loss. Remind your child that no team is ever always the best. Even most Super Bowl winners experience a few losses during the season, and most will not win the Super Bowl two seasons in a row.

5. Areas to improve. Some losses are due to the team just having an off day, but often a loss is due to a team being out-matched. If your child's team has a great coach, the coach will address team weaknesses. As a parent, you can ask your child about areas that he or she thinks he can improve on. Offer your child the ability to help improve in those areas. There are excellent and often free videos online that offer specific tips and training advice for athletes in various sports, and your child can practice these new techniques at home or use the videos to improve efforts later in games and practices.

A loss can be extremely hard on kids. The bigger the loss, the more emotional that loss will be. We've all seen professional athletes lose their emotions on the field, and kids certainly cannot be expected to be free of emotions after a loss either. After the emotions of the loss die down, you can talk to your child about the lessons learned from the game. Every loss provides your child with an opportunity to grow and develop as a player. As a parent, your post-game talk can help your child learn how to grow from a loss.

 

SportsLeader urges all of us to remember that championships are indeed important, but what truly is PRICELESS is the growth, camaraderie and character that EVERYBODY gains playing on their teams, win or lose. Let's never forget this!

Chris Willertz 
SportsLeader: Leaders Make Plays!