“It’s okay to make a mistake.” Just say that to yourself. “It’s okay to make a mistake.” Again. “It’s okay to make a mistake.” Do you feel more relaxed? I sure do. Think about how much stress would be relieved if your boss, or teacher said, “’ It’s okay to make a mistake today.” I suddenly don’t feel so panicked about completing the task at hand. It’s almost as if the possibility of making a mistake has completely left my mind.
In any situation of life, giving your best effort is a scary task. Contemplate this. If someone tries as hard as they can to complete a task, and they can’t; they fail, they simply weren’t good enough. That’s a hard pill to swallow. In many cases it’s easier to lie to ourselves. By giving half the effort, we always have an excuse to fall back on. “Well if I tried harder I probably could’ve done it.” Sports is the perfect place to learn to deal with failure, real failure. Giving your best effort with no excuse as to why you failed. It’s one of the only parts of life where failing really doesn’t matter. Your team may loose the championship if you drop a fly ball, but the world won’t end, no one will lose their job, and life will go on tomorrow. Jim Thompson in his book Positive Coaching says it best, “One of the great things about sports is that it can give children the chance to experiment with making gigantic efforts without horrible consequences when they fail. They can see how it feels to give everything they have to a task, something a surprising number of people don’t ever have any experience with. “
If we never learned to deal with failure, we would have never learned to walk, ride a bike, or read. As children failing was common. We were used to failure, and it didn’t deter us much. As we grow older we tend to stop learning as much because our willingness to fail has greatly decreased. Bring that youthful mindset back to your players by simply telling them, “It’s ok to make a mistake.” Like John Wooden says; “I’m positive a doer makes mistakes.” If you want your athletes to continue to grow, improve, and develop as players, they will make mistakes. So let them.
For coaches who want to develop players as people as well as athletes this is a great principle to instill. It also gives you an out as a coach when you make a mistake. It allows mistakes to simply be learning situations and nothing more.
Quote of the day:
“Believe in the miracle of the second chance.”
I too believe that we should be failing more. Even in strength training there is research supporting lifting weights until momentary muscle failure, giving good strength gains.
I wrote a similar post on failure last month
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