Ath­letes learn from fail­ure

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/ pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbn­com­ Ni­cholas Mercer

Young ath­letes have to learn to deal with the men­tal side of the game and they can’t do it if we make it easy for them.

I’ve said this be­fore and I’ll say it again — as a coach you are re­spon­si­ble to de­velop young ath­letes as play­ers and peo­ple.

You have to make sure they learn just as much about the game as they do about life when they are un­der your care. This might mean the oc­ca­sional time when you have to set them up for fail­ure.

It might mean throw­ing them into a sit­u­a­tion on the field, in the rink or on the court where you want to see how they re­act even though you were set­ting them up to fail.

Grow­ing up, that was only one school of thought. Throw the kid out there and see what he can do.

The ath­lete, re­gard­less of the sport, was faced with the pres­sures of play­ing the game and ei­ther they met the pres­sure or they wilted un­der it.

There was no talk of pro­tect­ing play­ers from the mo­ment. They were en­cour­aged to em­brace it or go down swing­ing.

If they fal­tered, so be it. They now had the ex­pe­ri­ence to deal with it and move on. The kids learn from their fail­ures. You can’t learn if you’re never put in tough sit­u­a­tions

Take base­ball for ex­am­ple. Base­ball is a game of fail­ure. The top hit­ters will fail seven out of 10 times at the plate. The top pitch­ers will do the same.

There is ab­so­lutely noth­ing wrong with that. Those pitch­ers and hit­ters are now equipped with the in­for­ma­tion they need to ex­cel the next time.

Nowa­days, that is not so much the case. Play­ers are given an out. They’re given the op­tion to not face fail­ure and learn from it.

In­stead, they ask to not take the chance at all.

For ex­am­ple, chang­ing the rules of a game to put less pres­sure on play­ers does noth­ing for their de­vel­op­ment as ei­ther ath­letes or peo­ple. We’re teach­ing them to shy away from the pres­sure. And, there’s too much of it. Young ath­letes have to learn to deal with the men­tal side of the game and they can’t do it if we make it easy for them.

We can’t short­change their de­vel­op­ment as play­ers by not set­ting them up for fail­ure at least once. That bleeds into their non-ath­letic life as well.

How are they go­ing to deal with the stress in life if they can’t do it on the base­ball diamond?

It is like the old say­ing goes; ‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it is how many times you get back up.’

There are too many kids who would rather not get knocked down, and if they do, they stop play­ing.

As coaches, we can’t hold their hands. No mat­ter the age, they need to be thrown to the wolves.

They’ll be bet­ter off for it — trust me.

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