All athletes will experience a loss at some point. It’s inevitable. No matter how good the athlete, or how well-rounded the team might be, there will be losses.
Often, these can be tough to handle, particularly for young players. It’s important to look at these as the opportunities they represent, rather than catastrophes. What lessons can a young player learn about life from losses?
Resilience is a difficult characteristic to cultivate, and it only comes from experiencing hardship. It’s defined as the ability to roll with the punches or to get back up after a loss and get back on the horse. Resilience can have profound effects on a young person’s entire life, allowing them to deal with personal tragedy, conflict on the job, interpersonal conflict, and other situations in better ways than would otherwise have been possible.
Too often, kids are taught to fear mistakes. However, that can lead to major problems in their lives. Experiencing losses can teach them that mistakes are not just acceptable, but that they are opportunities to build themselves back better than before. It’s all about identifying the mistake and then, instead of blaming themselves or someone else, deciding what they can do next time to avoid the same situation.
Contrary to popular belief, great leaders are made, not born. Yes, some people are automatically more confident or more charismatic, but real leadership is learned through losses and triumphs. As athletes take turns leading on the team, they come to grips with making tough decisions, handling the fallout from those decisions, and more. That experience builds confidence and the leadership skills they will need in the future.
There’s a lot of frustration involved in youth sports from time to time. Between the players, coaches, refs, and parents, games can become very stressful events. A loss in this situation can cause emotions to erupt. Rather than seeing this as a negative experience, it’s a chance for players to build their emotional intelligence, which will benefit them greatly in their teen and adult years. They can identify what they are feeling, and why they are feeling it, and then find healthy ways of dealing with those emotions.
These are just some of the ways that experiencing a loss can teach young athletes important lessons that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Others include controlling body language, how to follow effectively, how to set and achieving goals, and the fact that achieving success requires hard work.