I have spent a great deal of time talking about coaches and parents that put too much focus on winning at the youth level, that this particular blog is going to sound a little hypocritical. I do think that in sports, just like everything else, there needs to be a proper balance. The idea that everyone is a winner in a competition may be good at the earliest years of organized sports, but there is too much to learn from the losses and the failures, to let kids continue thinking that everyone should get a trophy, even when they come in last place.
The bigger picture is teaching and learning how to properly handle failure. Baseball is such a great instructor on this topic, due to its nature. We all have heard the saying of how even the greatest players in the history of the game have failed 70% of the time at the plate. This is very true, but what separates these players from the others, is not just their infrequency of failing, but how they handle it. They see their short falls, figure out ways to fix them and then jump right back into the fight. In baseball terms, they "make adjustments" more quickly than the other players. This skill set did not come to them without facing many losses and failures first.
I believe that we need to allow our young athletes to fail in order to allow them to develop perseverance, goals setting skills, work ethic, ....in short, CHARACTER. In my personal life as well as my professional life, I have, without a doubt, learned more from the struggles and failures than I ever did from the success. I imagine the same could be said by you. If this is the case, why are we as parents, afraid to let our kids face a little adversity?
The answer is that we need to step aside and let them fail, and be quick to help re-direct their efforts. After they have invested sweat and tears, and the discipline of working hard to achieve something, the trophy that they eventually will EARN, will mean so much more to them. More importantly, the life lessons learned by striving to improve and achieve, will be life skills that they can use the rest of their lives.
Win, lose or draw, tell them that you are proud, buy them some ice cream, and then help them to learn from their losses and failures.