Win or Lose, We Always Learn

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As coaches and adults working with children, one of our most important roles is to create lifelong learners and framing how to deal with success and failures is critical. Even more critical than that is establishing a scoreboard for learning that is independent of winning and losing, and getting our players to embrace the learning process. We see the “elite” players as well as beginners who struggle with the process. In our elite players, we have created such an attachment to winning or looking good, that we have created a fear of failure through our youth sports model. This prevents them from optimal growth. In our beginners, often time they have been beaten down and haven’t seen success from the standpoint of winning and haven’t been shown how to identify it from the standpoint of growing. Our role as coaches is to keep our players engaged on the learning process no matter where they’re at in their developmental phase. The impact of doing so will have lifelong, positive effects on the lives of our youth well into adulthood. Whether we win or we lose, get your athletes to commit to improving, being willing to take risks and fail, review the process, and make a plan for growth.

Step 1: Make a commitment: when you commit to improvement, you have a clear path of what you need focus on. This allows you to set goals and improve faster.

Step 2: Give your best effort: Effort is necessary in whatever activity you’re improving. Whether it be a drill during practice or an assignment for school, the best effort is the most effective.

Step 3: Look at how you did: You have to honestly evaluate how the activity went, how committed you were and how much effort you put in. There can’t be any embarrassment because then there will be no improvement.

Step 4: Make a plan: There has to be a plan for further improvement and development otherwise people get stagnant and they fall back into bad/old habits. Making a plan avoids this because they are able to then repeat the process over and over again.

Obviously, the earlier athletes embrace this process, the better. But what we found in the work we do is that the stress and pressure from time limits, politics, etc. dissipate when the process is embraced. We then find ourselves and the people that we work with accomplishing great things regardless of circumstances.


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Watts Basketball is Seattle’s premiere institution for player development. Through basketball, we teach strength, concentration, tenacity, and enjoyment of the game. We do all this because we believe basketball skills empower personal growth. That’s what makes us Gamechangers. For Life.

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