Competing To Get Better and Better…

Jan 31, 14 Competing To Get Better and Better…

The most important thing to remember is that you must keep the fun in coaching. You’re sole aim is to make the kids you coach fall in love with the game. When kids enjoy playing, they will compete at their optimal level.

So is competition a good thing?

I believe it is. I also believe that with young kids (certain ages) it makes no difference if they are playing a friendly game or league game. In fact some of the kids I coach (u13s), don’t ask until the end of a game if it was league or just friendly. With competition I believe It’s about finding out how well you can do something under a certain type of pressure. For me, It’s about getting better with each and every game or training session. Everyone should compete to succeed; to be the best you can be. Absolutely it’s about winning, but performance is much more important. Improving 1% each and every-time you train.

‘The motivation comes from a belief that almost anything can be mastered if you’re willing to put in the hours to master it. If you’re going to do something, do it as best as you can’

Self-Competition provides more motivation than Competition with Others. I always say to the players, that working hard to get better and better is something you can control. Getting better improves performance, if each and every player is training to improve with 100% desire then team performance also improves. I can only control me – being the best I can be. I am the only thing completely within my control. No one else can control that.  To have a good outcome, a person has to focus on and commit to doing the work that is needed to improve.

‘Yes, it is also about winning. Actually, it’s about wanting to win, working to win and preparing to win’

As a coach, I always want players who are good competitors and great learners. Some players who are gifted, might not be challenged and sometimes can be hard to get motivated. They can even be lazy. The best players will Train how they play, always with intensity and always with desire. They won’t accept anything less. Working hard in training always carries over to a game. In fact the harder you work in training makes the game become much easier. These players can handle anything.

Some Parents Ruin Kids Sports

For many years now competition has become so important to adults, so much so that we have allowed our demands and winning mentality control the kids game.  Our culture has embraced a “win-at-all-costs” mentality. Kids and coaches are under so much pressure to win today, that the fun has been taken away. The professional game philosophy is now controlling a recreational sport. Bad sportsmanship, adult egos, verbal abuse, bullying and even player burn-out are rampant in the game today. Children no longer feel like they have the ability to learn by themselves. Adult control the game so much, that the kids are now believing that they can’t learn without adult involvement.  ‘

‘It becomes unhealthy when the competitor is forced to compete or feels that they have to compete in order to gain love or status within the family.’

Competition can be healthy when it provides feedback to kids about their performance and improvement, when winning is not the sole or primary objective, and when kids get to learn about themselves under challenging situations. Under these circumstances, competition can teach invaluable lessons our children do not typically learn in the classroom.

Kirk Dwyer, Shiffrin’s coach and headmaster of Burke Mountain Academy puts it: “She truly believed that the focus should be on the process of getting better and not race results. She does that to this day. Everyone on the World Cup says they want to race like they practice, but how many actually do it? Mikaela can because she’s not thinking about trying to win. She’s thinking about getting better.”  Mikaela Shiffrin is a World Cup alpine ski racer with the U.S. Ski Team


The pressure to win is so much part of youth sports it’s upsetting. Every year we lose lots of really talented kids, even coaches and referees step away because of the nonsense from adults on the sidelines. We are also seeing a great many kids drop out of disengage from sports before they reach secondary school, which is when we really want them staying in sport. Again we go back to not having fun, for the number one reason why. And when we go further into the stats the pressure to win from adults and coaches alike it whats making it less fun to be involved with. If we look at why officials leave again the pressure win. The abuse they get for making mistakes that may or may not have cost the game.  We have lost all perspective about what is important for children, and we are teaching some really negative things at a very young age about playing sports.

Solution to the problem? 

Competition can be a double-edged sword for kids, promoting positive values under the right conditions but creating negative environments that are demotivating under the wrong ones. Coach to keep kids playing. Coach with the intention to teach, to make the players better. Enjoy how you Coach and transfer that into how the kids play. Competition should be fun for the kids, after all we want them to compete because that’s part of the game – winning and losing. However we must teach our kids that being a real winner involves more than just the result at the end of the game.

  1. I value respect and I expect the kids I coach to respect each other. We must make sure our youth are respectful at all times to everyone involved. I will not tolerate disrespect or abusive language towards anyone.
  2. Honesty is another value. Players should be taught to be honest and show sportsmanship at all times. Play by the rules.
  3. Working hard is also another value of mine, children must understand that to get better you must work hard.
  4. Win or Lose you must always be gracious including those who didn’t win. You learn more in defeat then you do in winning.
  5. Be thankful to the coach and the volunteers  who have helped them along the way.
  6. Never cease to stop learning. You can never learn enough.

The act of competing and the result of the competition are two different things. You can compete to your optimum level and still lose. In knowing you did your best for the team still makes you a winner. A player should not be judged on the weekends game, that is only one occasion of many. Judge him on how hard he/she worked to improve.

It is critical that coaches, educators, and parents work to teach kids these valuable lessons from competition. That way, win or lose, our children will learn, grow, and be better prepared for life, which (like competition) provides highlights, adversity, and continual opportunities to play well with others and treat opponents with dignity and respect.

So, this weekend and every weekend let’s not forget to encourage them for their efforts, team work, sportsmanship and skills. No matter what, we will still love our kids just as much.




I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

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