Athletes learn from failure
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.