I just released my podcast episode discussing this very topic. I want to follow that up with a blog post maybe touching on some things I may have missed.
I work with 7-14 year-olds off the ice in terms of training. And I coach a High School comprised of 9th to 12th graders so you can imagine the dynamic and attitudes in the locker room. Aside from the fundamentals, some concepts of hockey and other basic things. One glaring question I always ask myself is how to toughen the kids up mentally. Because a mentally tough team is hard to beat, a mentally weak team with talent is easy to beat. Therefore is resiliency and mental toughness is something that can help us we need to find a way to possess it and use it our advantage.
Being about three months into the season but just three games into the season and it officially starting last week. I found myself noticing a glaring issue within the team mental toughness and their inability to deal with adversity and challenges. The nature of being a coach you dig a little deeper and find out why they are like this. After finding out why, you come to find your answer rather easily. They never faced adversity when they were younger during their youth (squirt to bantam). And when I mean faced adversity is that they were probably never cut from a team (which I can almost guarantee a lot of the kids were not), never played the toughest competition, always played a step below and walked all over teams. So when they get to the HS level they face better competition and have no idea what to do. Can you blame the kids, not really.
The reason why I love this game and coaching is because now you are presented with a challenge and find solutions not excuses. Again though, the reason why I wrote this blog was to tell you why if you are a parent and your kid is playing youth sports they need to fail, lose and face adversity so when they get older, they will have the proper tools and experience and how to react, respond and control their emotion when the going gets tough.
Why kids need to fail, lose and face adversity early on in life...
1. It will teach them resiliency. When you fall down what do you? Get up. When you get up and fall down again, what do you do? Get up again. On and on and on because you know the hard work will pay off.
2. Mental toughness. I mean we see it in kids all the time today. Just mentally weak, no idea how to do deal with problems, no idea how to take criticism or feedback. I am a big believer that failure and losing develops mental toughness in you. Rejection develops mental toughness.
3. Proper coping mechanisms. Kids now a days have no idea how to deal with rejection, failure, losing, being told no or they are doing something wrong. Because they have had Daddy or Mommy or both hold their hand and always comfort them every time they failed. Let the kid's suck, fail, lose, fall down so they can get back up and learn to cope with their emotions.
4. Develops leaders. Another thing I am believer in is that failure and adversity develops leaders and successful people. How many people do we know or hear about that failed a million times and are now successful or a leader of a team or company. How many times have we heard about that author who could not find a book deal and ended up selling a million copies, how many times how we heard these success stories from people failing over and over again?
5. Nothing in life comes easy and the effort you put in are the results you get. No one can be taught that lesson if they are always told they are great, or are always the best and never fail. Failing and instilling in kids early that with hard work and effort comes results is important. Not this "I am not happy. Let me complain" bull***t mentality we are seeing. Nothing in life comes easy. Work hard for your results and along the way you will fail a million times but with hard work you will succeed and be a better person.
Parents stop holding your kids hand. And every time little Johnny comes to you upset about his playing time or role on the team or this or that. Tell him to work harder. Don't just say ok, let's quit. What kind of attitude does that teach your kid? Stop trying to shelter your kid and avoid all bumps in the road for them. Let them hit the road bumps and learn to keep going. Let them get rejected, cut, fail, fall down and make them learn how to bounce back. Don't pick them up right away. Like the old baby lesson. When you hear a baby cry you let he/she cry for 10 minutes first until you go comfort it. Same thing, let your kid fall down, egt up and think about what he/she should do next before you make a decision for them and comfort them.
Time to raise leaders, resilient and mentally tough kids!