Developing a Comfortable Relationship With Defeat
The Importance of Winning
How important is winning? This is the modern era has become a question that has become much discussed throughout the years, in the development of young people. However, this discussion has been attacked a million times, from a million different angles.
Do players need to learn the importance of winning from a young age? Or does winning get in the way of learning? Many have argued, either way, some have argued for a balanced approach.
However is it the mindset of the coach that blocks the learning of the players? and it can also be the coaches approach to winning that blocks the players drive to want to win?
The issue of winning has for a long time, harmed players and young people. Some coaches are so driven by the result and the outcome that they forget and neglect young people as the process only involves the outcome and not the journey.
With this in mind, we can see the types of personalities that can be neglected within this type of coaching environment, the quieter and less confident players will feel the pressure of the outcome weighing against their decision making, this will in-turn create players who aren't brave and aren't driven by creativity and expressive thinking.
We are also likely to see players make a decision in relation to the game result and not the performance goals they have. For example, if we are challenging a goalkeeper to be brave in possession and look to find passes, we can't apply pressure to the result as they will look to miss lines out and play forward. This in turn will limit the development and understanding the goalkeeper has.
As we can see all of these and many more situations, can cause problems for players. They can limit the learning and development of young people and create a short-minded approach when a longer approach is needed.
However, there are some benefits of being driven by results to some extent. Wanting to win creates realistic situations for players to play in. e.g. if a team are 2-1 down they might change to a more attack orientated tactical approach to apply pressure, this will create players who have a transferable understanding of how to adapt to win games. It can also create a drive to succeed in difficult situations and make players understand the importance of winning, which ultimately in professional football is vital.
What have the implications been for coaches?
The implications of winning are always considered for the player, but not often considered for the coach. Does being too far one way become a damaging routine for a coach? Is it important coaches drop into different environments such as senior and youth football to be exposed to the differing environments. Is it that coaches that are engulfed fully within development environments become detached from what the end goal is in performance football. Is it that coaches who coach within a competitive results-driven environment become so detached from individuals and their development. It might also mean that coaches themselves must challenge others to view and critique their coaching style to support their development, by being more aware of our approach, we can be more aware of how to develop.
What Can We Change?
The question is, what can we do about it? Well, this is quite simple, for us to feel as if we are always winning (who doesn't want to be winning) we must be able to find alternative ways to win in youth football. The result CAN NOT be the only outcome, the only measurable and the only desire. We as coaches must be able to win in many different ways, we must be able to take pleasure from those other wins in the game. Understanding that these other wins are deeper goals, goals that lead to the development of people and in the long term the development of the result.
For example in a game of U12 football, the most obvious outcome is the result, however can not be controlled, however much we try. But what we can control is the style and the approach we use with our players and this can also be linked to an outcome. Can you target yourself to have 5 individual conversations with players before the game? Just taking your time to have a conversation, relaxing them and maybe linking the game to their development. If you achieve all 5 then you've reached your first goal.
Can you create task goals with the individuals, can that nervous wide players that have been terrified of losing the ball be encouraged to go into 3 1v1's. Now, this player might lose all three, but we can celebrate the approach, the attempt and the outcome. As we go forward, we might challenge them to win one of their three in the next game. We can then manage that outcome as we go.
The young player that cry's and becomes overly emotional, can we focus on them, give them an approach, scaffold their development and set an outcome-based goal over 6 weeks, they might not even know the outcome. But when you see them smiling in three weeks time, enjoying their football, you know you've got another win!
For players, this would mean a more engaging environment, which would blend both the performance-related outcomes, with the process-related outcomes into a blend that benefits both players and coaches. It would create a more conducive environment for learning and performance. When coaches make this brave change in their coaching environment they will need the support of those around them to help develop their understanding and their acceptance of this approach. Developing this comfortable relationship with defeat is the key for any coach.