Our Attitude to Winning

One often hears the philosophy stated that there is too much emphasis on winning in youth soccer. “Winning doesn’t matter – we are here to have fun” it is said. The problem with this statement is that it is no fun losing most of the time. One (among many) of the reasons kids play youth soccer, is to learn how to win and to get the satisfaction of winning.

Yes, learning to lose with dignity is also an important lesson that junior soccer provides but how to win and how to win graciously are equally important skills to develop. Repeated losses without a fair share of wins is a leading cause of many players dropping out prematurely.

At the other end of the spectrum, some coaches (and unfortunately parents) adopt a “win at all costs” attitude. This can be subtle and many parents or coaches don’t even realize they are making this mistake.

The problem with this “win at all costs” approach is that it doesn’t create winners. This approach stunts a player’s development. Why? Because winning tactics are not necessarily the best tactics for encouraging the learning of new skills. Winning teams need to keep mistakes to a minimum. This is fine at professional level, but at a junior level a player learns through experimentation. Players who are not encouraged to try new skills for fear of making mistakes and losing never learn and do not reach their full potential.

There is fine balance and tension between encouraging winning for the important reasons set out above and stunting players through a win at all costs attitude. We encourage our coaches (and our parents) to find this balance.