They way we talk to and interact with our kids before, during and after practice can leave a lasting impression on them. Every parent wants their player to come out of a youth sports experience feeling like a winner with a confident self-awareness and healthy attitude about sports. But how do you define winning and losing to your player?

Are you setting expectations that create undue pressure to perform?


I LOVE when you work hard!

Unfortunately, many parents define being a winner by the outcome of their youths’ wrestling matches. A win/loss record is a poor measure of a wrestler’s success. It creates undue stress and expectations of both the players and the coaches. Kids will remember how the coaches and parents made them feel after a match, and kids who continually work hard to perform at their potential will find the rewards of winning.

Be a winning parent and set your kids up for success

Encourage your child to compete against himself, to continually improve. The main focus of youth sports should be skill development and refinement. When a child performs to their potential and loses, the match outcome is not a fair measure of success. The parent needs to be supportive.

Challenge your player one step at a time and tell him you believe he can do it.

Help your child learn to distinguish between success or failure vs. winning or losing. Youth sports are a microcosm of life. Kids can’t expect to win. They have to work hard to earn it, and even then, there are no guarantees. All we can do is prepare and perform to the best of our abilities to achieve what we want in sports, or in life. If you define success in terms of winning and losing, you’re setting your child up for failure. If you truly want your child to succeed in life, give them the gift of failure and the tools to deal with it positively. If you teach your child how to constructively view setbacks, mistakes, and risk taking, you’ll be giving them the keys to a lifetime of success.


Positive Phrases To Tell Your Athlete:

  • Have fun!

  • It only matters if you were better than yesterday.

  • Keep working at it!

  • It’s going to be hard but keep going.

  • Great job!

  • I love when you work hard.

Sport strips away personality, letting the white bone of character shine through. Sport gives players an opportunity to know and test themselves.
— Rita Mae Brown