I recently had the honor of coaching my son’s U9 lacrosse team. As a culminating event, we participated in a 2-day tournament along with several other Metro Atlanta teams. The weather was beautiful and the competition was great! However, as I coached our games and watched several others, I began to notice a pattern develop. When teams began to face adversity and ultimately lose a game, storm clouds would roll in despite the cloudless skies. Parents would inevitably begin screaming at the other team, blaming the referees, and demanding retribution. Instead of greeting their children with smiles following the game, they would instead seek out a coach, referee, or another parent to demonstrate their disgust, all in plain view of their sons. What message is this sending their child? Frustrated and disgusted, I was inspired to send the following message to the parents of my team.
It’s always tough to end the season with a loss. However, losing can be such a positive learning experience for all of us. It’s easy to make excuses and justify each loss by blaming the referees or the other team’s aggressive style of play, the weather, or the bumpy uneven playing field. What does this actually accomplish? Sometimes we just need to accept that we simply scored less points than the other team. Losing is becoming a lost art form. It’s our job to teach our gang that it’s okay to come out on the short end, even if as parents, we feel there was an unfair advantage. Let’s use it as motivation and reflect on what we can do as an individual or team to better our chances next time. Let our children develop their own mechanism to handle defeat. Allow our players to be kids and have fun. Let’s model gracious behavior both in victory and defeat. Following a tough loss, the last thing our guys want to do is dwell on it. Losing is not the end of the world. A positive character is what will make our budding sons into great men. That is priceless.
The way a child handles failure can help them to face the certain failures life will throw them in the future. The worst thing for us to do as parents is give negative advice and justify every loss with excuses immediately after a disappointment. We need to let our children cope in their own way. In my experience as a teacher and coach, a child generally takes about 1-2 minutes to recover from a loss. Then they just want to play, have fun, or take a trip to Dairy Queen. Together, let’s win back the art of losing!