Losing is a hard pill to swallow in any sport. So it’s crucial to accept defeat, remain positive, and move on to the next challenge. But kids don’t have this ability. For most, losing a game can be very disheartening. Coaches and parents have to step into these situations to recover kids’ self-confidence, teach them how to overcome defeat, and motivate them for the next game.
Listen to Your Child
After the game, take a moment to listen to your child. Allow them to retell the game and get angry if they need to, but only to an extent. Let them tell their story and expose their feelings to you.
But be attentive to what they say and how they say it. If the child is disrespectful to the official, teammates, or the coach, interrupt them and don’t pass up the opportunity to correct their behavior. The same goes if they start to break or hit things in their fit of range.
Help Them Understand Their Feelings
Getting angry, sad, disappointed, or frustrated is normal after a loss. It’s as much part of sports as it is life, and your child needs to understand this. After they finish speaking, let them identify their emotions. Ask them:
- How do you feel at the moment?
- Why are you angry/sad/disappointed?
- What would change those feeling?
- How can you reach that sort of outcome?
Remaining calm and leading the conversation in this direction will help your child reasonably cope with their emotions. As they age, their coping mechanism will form. It will let them rationalize the problem to find a solution.
Praise Their Efforts
Praise your child no matter the outcome. If they are accustomed to hearing words of approval from you when they do well at practice, commend their effort even when the results aren’t favorable. Praise their hard work and level of commitment, and get them used to the fact.
Instead of saying, “Congratulations, you were the best player on the pitch,” say “I like the amount of effort you put to help your teammates today. Great job!” It signals the importance of teamwork over winning, and that you will always recognize and acknowledge hard work in spite of the result.
Don’t Criticize Their Efforts
Despite the loss, you have to remain supportive. Never criticize your child. If you reprimand their effort or performance, it can put them off of sport altogether. So, instead of using negative language like “You should have done better,” use assertive statements like “I think you have the ability to do better next time.”
Additionally, you should offer to help them practice their game as a sign of support. Showing a genuine interest to work with your child as a way of overcoming loss, directs their efforts towards a more constructive resolution.
Don’t Let Them Be a Sore Loser
Teach your child to be humble in defeat, and graceful in victory. Win or lose; your child has to know how to accept the result and remain kind in spite of it. Teach them to demonstrate compassion by shaking hands and saying “Good game, and thank you for playing” to each opponent after the game. Learning how to use fair play to show sportsmanship will help your child focus on playing the game for fun, and not for the result.
The following 5 films make up our favorite motivational sports movies for teaching us about sportsmanship, determination, teamwork, and chasing our dreams.
Rudy tells the story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger who is an average kid with big dreams of playing football for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame University. This film is a marvelous underdog story that makes most who watch it well-up with tears.
Despite his limited athleticism and all of the obstacles along the way, Rudy never gives up on his dream, and with persistence, he makes it on the team. Rudy is not a movie about an exceptional athlete but the story of a determined young man who by the end of the film, is hoisted on his teammate’ shoulders as the crowd chants his name.
2. The Rookie
The Rookie is the true story of Jim Morris, a high school science teacher and baseball coach who never had a chance to pursue a baseball career when he was younger.
His students believe in him so much that they get him to promise them to try out for the upcoming Major League baseball camp. Despite being 35, Jim Morris is offered a chance to pitch by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Morris, thanks to the support of his family, community, and students, is empowered to follow his dreams. He goes on to spends two seasons in the MLB.
Miracle is the inspirational story of the U.S. Men’s Hockey team and their underdog victory at the 1980 Winter Olympics over the Soviet Union. The movie stars Kurt Russell as USA head coach Herb Brooks.
Those who were alive during the 1980 Olympics will tell you that the movie, Miracle, beautifully captures the drama of that time.
4. A League of Their Own
A League of Their Own is a sports comedy-drama film that tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League(AAGPBL). A League of their Own is light and inspiring.
The movie begins as a candy-bar tycoon enlists agents to seek women who could play baseball while most of the men at that time are away at war. Two sisters, Dottie (Geena Davis) who can hit and catch, and Kit (Lori Petty), who can throw a mean fastball, are discovered.
The team’s coach is a broken-down alcoholic played by Tom Hanks. Inspired by the team and after a few weeks of training, as Dugan sobers up, the team begins to show some promise. By the end of the season, the team has improved to the point where they are competing in the World Series.
5. Remember the Titans
In 1971, two schools in Alexandria, Virginia integrate forming T.C. Williams High School. The white head coach of the Titans is replaced by an African American coach from North Carolina.
Remember The Titans is based on a true story that tells the story of one coach’s struggle to integrate a high school football team who are made up of different races.
Tensions are eased during the two-week training camp in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. However, when the players returned to Alexandria, they find their city in turmoil due to those who oppose the desegregation of the high schools. But as the season progresses, the team’s success and their perfect season causes the community to accept the changes and see that unity is possible.
Did you know that watching professional athletes playing your sport is great mental training for you? And did you know that even the pros watch other pros?
When you love the game and are committed to your craft as an athlete, you’ll naturally want to see how the elite perform. It’s not only inspiring, but it’s educational. Coaches have their teams watch videos of professional athletes all the time as their athletes can take away many valuable lessons from watching how the best of the best perform their craft.
It’s vital for young athletes to watch pro games. All athletes of any sport can learn a lot from watching people who do it professionally.
Watching professional athletes play connects us to the point that we almost feel like we are actually playing in the game. You begin to imagine yourself in the player’s shoes. According to Dr. Jesse Hanson, clinical director of the Helix Healthcare Group, ““This phenomenon allows a feeling of connection, and community without verbal communication or the need to directly talk to the pro athlete who just won the World Series with a grand slam.”
Studies have observed that when we witness a familiar action, our mirror neurons activate allowing us to immediately understand the action, its goal, and the emotions associated with it.
Watching your favorite pro athletes play builds confidence. When a young athlete watches their idol play, they start to memorize that athlete’s signature moves. The athlete begins to not only fantasize about moving like their favorite player, but they start to actually practice those moves in the hopes that they can be as fast, as agile, as skilled.
Confidence is essential in sports. And when an athlete sees their favorite professional athletes perform these moves, they know that it is possible and something that they can attain if the practice enough.
But beyond the confidence that watching pro athletes play brings, there’s plenty to learn from watching pro games. It puts the young athletes in a state of mind for competition.
Watching sports regularly stimulates the different areas of the brain, improving neurological function. In fact, a 2008 study revealed that being an athlete or a fan improves language skills. When it comes to discussing sports, parts of the brain that are used while playing sports are also being used to understand sports language.
All sports require reaction, planning, and strategy. Our thinking and visualizing abilities are given a boost when we watch a game. So even when we’re not actively playing in the game we are watching, our brain is.
A crucial part of being a coach is motivating and encouraging your players. You do this at practices and even more on game day.
Your pre-game speech is your opportunity to get your team switched on and game-ready. It’s the time to get them fired up and excited for the game ahead. It’s filled with optimism about having the opportunity to show off their skill and everything they’ve worked so hard for during practice.
But what about half-time?
However the first half of the game goes, the team deserves a rousing speech that will keep them inspired. It’s a time when the coach can help the players remain focused and shake off complacency.
How can you keep your team’s spirits up and ready to face the second half with positivity, confidence, and passion? How can you deliver a motivational halftime speech?
Be confident. Whether your team is ahead or behind, they need to remain confident. If they are leading, remind them not to be too overconfident.
Over-confidence may cause some players to relax and act indestructible. They start to ease up and think that they’ve “got this in the bag.” As their coach, praise them for how far they’ve come but also set their expectations that much can still happen in the final half.
If your team is behind, they’ll be feeling low. Halftime is the chance for you to boost their confidence. Remind them there is still an entire second half left and many teams can come from behind to win it at the end.
Be passionate. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. Your enthusiasm will be infectious, and the team will feel inspired and motivated. By keeping them pumped up, their disappointment in the first half is lifted, and they start to look forward to the second half.
Be specific. To be most helpful, talk to the young athletes about things you may have noticed during the first half. Give credit Praise the individual performances so that they know you noticed their efforts. Instead, of pointing out poor performance, quickly address each player and tell them what they should be doing more of.
End strong. Finish your speech with as much passion and enthusiasm as when you started. It may sound cliché, but there’s nothing wrong with quoting a great athlete or legendary coach. Gather your team in a circle for an exhilarating team chant that will fire up your team as they head back to the court or field.
“Losers quit when they’re tired. Winners quit when they’ve won.”
Sometimes all it takes is a good book to change your perspective. After reading it, you feel empowered, renewed, and motivated. Here are 5 books that every athlete should read for motivation:
- Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover
“For more than two decades, legendary trainer Tim Grover has taken the greats—Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and dozens more—and made them greater. Now, for the first time ever, he reveals what it takes to get those results, showing you how to be relentless and achieve whatever you desire.”
In Relentless, Grover reveals the necessary characteristics shared by the most intense competitors and achievers in sports and all walks of life. Relentless shows you how to trust your instincts and get “in the zone.” You’ll learn how to control and adapt to any situation.
2. Bring Your “A” Game: A Young Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness by Jennifer L. Etnier
Bring Your “A” Game was written specifically for young athletes interested in improving their performance and reaching their potential in sport.
This book introduces key strategies for mental training, such as goal setting, pre-performance routines, and confidence building. Each of the chapters focuses on a particular mental skill with exercises designed to reinforce the concepts. This book encourages athletes to incorporate mental skills into their daily lives and practice sessions so that it becomes second nature to them during competition.
3. Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence
In Mind Gym, noted sports psychology consultant Gary Mack describes how your mind influences your performance on the field or on the court every bit as much as your physical skill does, if not more.
Mind Gym offers forty lessons and inspirational anecdotes from prominent athletes – many of whom he has worked with. You have the opportunity to learn the same techniques and exercises Mack uses to help elite athletes build mental “muscle.”
4. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John C. Maxwell
“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.”
Most people are never prepared to deal with failure. Maxwell says that if you are like him, coming out of school, you feared it, misunderstood it, and ran away from it. But Maxwell has learned to make failure his friend, and he teaches you to do the same in his book, Failing Forward.
“I want to help you learn how to confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye and move forward anyway,” says Maxwell. “Because in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with them. Stop failing backward and start failing forward!
5. Unleash Your True Athletic Potential by Julianne Soviero
Unleash Your True Athletic Potential is considered an essential resource for coaches and parents of athletes. It addresses all the factors that affect athletic performance including nutrition, sleep, hydration, cross-training, injury prevention, muscle recovery and so much more.
This book, a product of over a decade of research, is designed to help all athletes – from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts and complete novices. It includes interviewing some of the best coaches, athletes, trainers, physical therapists and social workers that the world has to offer.