It’s no secret that everybody involved in sports likes to win. Coaches like to win. Players and their parents like to win. There’s pretty much no one who goes into a game hoping to lose.
Unfortunately, though, a funny thing happens when you place too much emphasis on winning. When winning is your main concern and the only thing you focus on, you actually make it LESS likely that you will win. Instead, when you focus on enjoying the moment and on bigger-picture goals, such as improving basic skills, you actually INCREASE the chances of winning. True story.
Coaches who are “all about that win” will often put a lot of pressure on their players. They’ll remind them constantly of all that’s at stake and how important it is that they do well, wrongly believing that this will help the players to perform at their best.
What it really does, however, is put a ton of pressure on the athletes, which can make them so scared and wound up that they don’t play their best. These kinds of not-so-helpful reminders can also take away focus, produce excess stress, and are just generally bad for athletes all around.
So, what’s the takeaway for parents, coaches, and others involved in the lives of young athletes? STOP with the pressure already. Instead of pressuring players, encourage them to play at their best and give them helpful, encouraging feedback. When players have practiced their skills and are ready to have fun and enjoy the game, they will naturally play their best, thereby increasing the chances of winning.
Players should never be focusing on the outcome when they’re playing. Instead, they should be focusing on the here and now, on the fun experience they’re engaged in right then.
Thus, the true key to winning more often is to stop focusing on and talking about the win. By focusing on preparation and fun and not just on how a game pans out, you’ll see much better outcomes for the young players involved, guaranteed.