Overcoming setbacks in sport
Elite sport is now, more than ever, in our faces. Online streaming of domestic and international games has opened up an entire world of sport, and sports stars, to this generation of boys.
Social media has helped to create sporting mega stars. Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed individual on Instagram with over 600 million followers. Closer to home, Australian Daniel Ricciardo has 8.8 million followers. Our boys are constantly exposed to their wins and incredible lifestyles.
While your son may dream of becoming the next Ronaldo or Ricciardo, realistic expectations and support at home are critical for your son to get the most out of his chosen sport. Not every game will be won.
Dealing with defeat or not getting selected in a team, while hard pills to swallow, can enhance your son’s resilience and set him up to deal with setbacks later in life.
Importantly, how they cope and manage when this happens often differentiates the better athletes from the average athletes. Establishing coping strategies to deal with defeat is important at a young age to ensure lessons can be learned and energy can be focused on moving forward positively.
Having the confidence to seek feedback from coaches is an important trait to develop early on in their sporting life. If your son is not selected or is dropped from a team, encourage him to discuss why with the coach. Ideally, the coach will provide some tangible feedback your son can use to work on and improve his chances for selection or reselection in the future.
Your role as a parent in supporting your boy, at home and on the sidelines, is just as much a journey for you as it is for your son. You are often the first point of contact following training and weekend games and as a result have the capacity to shape debriefs and reflections on his sporting experiences.
Let your kids know that it’s okay to lose and to feel sad about it.
Model good sportsmanship
Praise effort over achievement
Focus on the bigger goals of sport
Normalise negative emotions around losing
Encourage your child to get back up
Celebrating the wins is fun, but celebrating the journey is just as important.
Encourage your son to participate and engage in the sports being offered to him. Sport is so much more than just keeping fit. Becoming involved introduces your son to important life skills including teamwork, sportsmanship, discipline and how to win and lose with dignity.
Skills he will carry with him for life.
Jack Joslin is a father of two and Director of Sport at Brighton Grammar School, an all-boys school in Melbourne. This article is about Parenting, Sport
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