Looking Beyond the Scoreboard & Learning from Mistakes
You and your daughter are watching your favorite team playing in the championship game. In the final five minutes, your favorite player makes a critical error which inevitably costs the team the championship. You jump up and down screaming at the TV. You may even throw something out of frustration; your favorite player just cost your team the season! Two weeks later, your daughter is playing in her championship game and makes a vital mistake which costs her team
the game. She looks to you on the sidelines. Do you think she remembers how you reacted two weeks prior?
Oftentimes the culture of youth sports imitates the culture of professional sports. The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) reminds us that "professional sports are an entertainment business with the goal of making a profit."1 With pro sports, mistakes seem unacceptable as a winning team leads to entertained fans. As winning is a core focus of pro sports, fans make it a point to do whatever they can to help their team
win. Youth sports mimic pro sports in many facets but the two are vitally different. Youth sports are about fostering the mental and emotional growth of a child while providing the developmental building blocks for a successful life. PCA Board Member, Cuties spokes-mom, and Soccer Hall of Famer Joy Fawcett explains that it is easy to focus on wins and losses, but as a parents we need to look
beyond the scoreboard and focus on children getting more out of sports.
PCA provides parents with a key tool in teaching resilience whenever their child makes a mistake entitled, "The Mistake Ritual." The mistake ritual is a non-verbal action that parents can use from the sidelines to reinforce the idea that mistakes are okay. This ritual allows your child to regain focus and think about the next step instead of dwelling on previous errors. Here are a couple of PCA's favorite ways ways to utilize the mistake ritual:
• "Flushing Mistakes" - Mistakes stink. What do we do with stinky stuff? We flush it down the toilet. When your child makes a mistake on the field, you can simply put your hand above your shoulder and make a motion as if you are flushing a toilet. You can add commentary to the flush "It's okay, Omar. Flush it. Next play."
• "No Sweat" - This involves wiping two fingers across one's forehead like you were flicking sweat from your brow. Do this with your child after a mistake and add, "No sweat. Forget it and have fun!" 2
In sports, a mistake can be mentally debilitating to a child. The fear of making a mistake can hinder a child's ability to give their all in a game. Developing a positive way to learn from their mistakes, on and off the field, is a very important life lesson. If parents can help children realize that mistakes are not the end of the world, or even the end of the game, there will be more time for their child to master the fundamentals of the sport.
Check out a series of parent-focused videos produced by Cuties featuring Joy Fawcett. Watch them here! Join the conversation on Facebook and/ or Twitter:
1 Thompson, Jim. Positive sports parenting: how . Balance Sports Pub, 2008. 35. Print.
2 Thompson, Jim. Positive sports parenting: how . Balance Sports Pub, 2008. 26. Print.