Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


The irrelevant question “Did you win?”

davidscwnewMy 11-year-old daughter walked in from her hockey match on Saturday and before I could speak she said, “Guess what?” “What?” I replied. “We won!”

“Wow, brilliant!” I said.
Then she said, “I knew you’d say it was brilliant that we won, but we didn’t, we lost.”

Now I don’t consider myself to be a win-at-all-costs kind of coach, but my daughter has lived most of her 11 years on the touchline of youth pitches up and down the country and has obviously picked up on the celebration of winning and the type of language I use when the teams win.

Screen shot 2015-12-18 at 12.22.56I made a mistake, as my normal question to her would be “How did you play?”, which I always try to ask when she comes in from a match, if I haven’t been watching from the touchline.

The last thing I want her to feel is that she only gets praise if the team wins. The other thing to think about is that win or lose, within a few minutes of the final whistle, children’s minds are already on something else.

When I said to my daughter that it wasn’t the result I cared about but how she had played, she wasn’t interested as one of her friends had texted and her mind was already elsewhere.

It’s only the adults who are still raging hours later about the penalty that wasn’t given. So, as coaches, the lessons are huge – as the players in your team get older they will not remember winning the Under 12s Best Team Is The Winner Cup but they will remember the good times they had with the team and how their skills developed within the team.

Watching Gareth Bale playing for Real Madrid in the Champions League this week reminded me of the story where Bale, aged 15, had gone from being the fastest player to seventh fastest and was less of a match winner.

He was on the list to be released before the head coach decided he should stay. It was a development blip and of course the rest is history. But sometimes the development of a player seems to stall, but rather than sit them on the bench, keep playing them and they will reap the rewards of your foresight.

The question “How did you play?” in this instant is much more relevant to the player than “did you win”. I will be watching my daughter’s development with interest to see whether her comments were a one off.davidscwnew

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1 Comment so far
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That’s a wonderful piece David. I enjoyed that. The theme “it’s REALLY not about winning” is ever clear. Thank you

Comment by Kyle




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