“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
- Booker T. Washington
Defining success in a realistic manner creates opportunities for individuals and teams to accomplish established goals and create openings for progress, motivation, and development of passion for the activity.
When success is defined in an unrealistic manner, an unhealthy environment is established where disappointment, frustration, and dissatisfaction lead to young people dropping out of the activity.
When athletes are young, parents and coaches play a major role in defining success. Unfortunately, many coaches and parents use this opportunity to define success as winning. This leads to many unsuccessful experiences throughout the developmental years of an athlete.
Athletes, coaches, and families who properly define success fully understand that success is about making the effort to become the best that one is capable of becoming. Success is found within the process, not the result.
The process of fine motor skill development in sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, or hockey begins at a very young age. Ultimately, the greatest gains are realized between the ages of 7 and 12. Here lies the controversy. Traditionally in American youth sports, young inexperienced coaches or parents with inferior ability when compared to professional coaches work with athletes during this developmental stage. Without even realizing the harm that is occurring, these coaches with limited knowledge promote the wrong ideals of success, specifically that winning is success. This infects the participant throughout the rest of their developmental years. With a focus on results and not on task proficiency, the developing player will not spend the necessary time and effort training to become the best they are capable of becoming. Eventually when the winning begins to end, interest in the activity will also wane. This usually happens around puberty. Defining success is responsible for this and must happen at the earliest ages (7) to educate both the parent and the child in an appropriate manner.
Of course winning is something everybody wants to do. The combination of winning and development is possible when both parents and participants are continually reminded of the message and what is attempting to be accomplished. Winning tournaments at the age of 10 are insignificant and meaningless if the player quits at 14 or has not developed the technical base to be a success at 17. Developing task proficiency and providing the effort to become the best that one is capable of becoming are the keys!!! This is a mindset that must be reinforced by both the coach and the parent!!!
On the other hand, what happens with a 10 year old in winning and losing can be a lesson in defining success if the coach takes advantage of the opportunity. Constantly reminding the young athlete (and their parents) that the time they commit to working on skill development and becoming the best they are capable of becoming which includes effort provided in the game will provide a focus for future development. As people begin to hear the message over and over again, they begin to understand that training is the key to successful development which will lead to the desired game results. SUCCESS IS FOUND IN THE PROCESS!!!
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