Coaching can be a huge commitment that many in youth soccer have to fit in alongside their own day jobs and parental responsibilities. But is it a thankless task? And should coaches get more credit for the work that they do? MORE
THE WEEKEND DEBATE: Win Playing Badly Or Lose Playing Well?
Win Playing Badly Or Lose Playing Well? Most top managers will tell you they’d rather play badly and win, than not win at all. But should youth soccer coaches take the same stance? Would you rather your team played well and lost a match, or played badly and won?
“Winning is a good habit and it’s one that will prepare them for the challenges of later life. I tell my players that mediocrity isn’t enough”
It’s wrong to expect kids not to want to win things. Who are we to say winning isn’t important – that’s for each individual child to decide, and whether you want to or not, you’ll never alter the competitive spirit that is inside a child. I believe that competitiveness is inbuilt and we should want to harness it rather than weaken it.
Winning is a good habit and is one that will prepare kids for the challenges of later life. I tell my players that mediocrity isn’t enough, and that once they get into the adult world they will have to fight for everything they want.
Why we should want kids to walk into a ‘dog eat dog’ world with a warped notion of success is beyond me. On the contrary, the soccer scene is the perfect place to instil these virtues because it combines having a desire to succeed with doing something they enjoy.
Let’s be honest, in this game there will be plenty of times when your team will play really well yet the final score line won’t reflect the performance. For that reason alone, we should be welcoming the times when lady luck perhaps smiles on us.
I also believe playing badly and winning comes with its own line of encouragement. My first reaction to my players would be, ‘Guys, if we can perform like that and win just imagine what we can do when we all play well and do our jobs properly’.
Accepting a lucky defeat but using it as a stimulus for better performance is actually a credible coaching method.
“There’s no such thing as ‘losing’ as far as your players are concerned. The score line is incidental when players can be made to feel as if they’ve won”
Football is about more than winning. Youth soccer coaches have made great strides in presenting the game as exactly that – a game. It’s the enjoyment and satisfaction that we need to extract from it, not the bragging rights.
If we move towards a situation where winning is everything, coaches will revert to some of the principles that have set the game back. This could be anything from playing ‘anti-soccer’ to see out a game, or perhaps ignoring the benefits of equal playing time in order to protect a lead.
There are plenty of things coaches can do to win a game that provide no notable benefit to the development of players, which is what we’re actually there for.
If you’re a good coach there should be no such thing as ‘losing’ as far as your players are concerned. The score line is largely incidental when players can be made to feel as if they’ve ‘won’ by the praise they receive for the number of passes completed, headers won, overlaps performed and blocks made.
There is so much more to soccer than simply the score line at the end of the game, and players should be made to feel that they can succeed no matter what.
Playing well and losing also serves to keep complacency at a minimum. Players may perform brilliantly but if they’ve still got something else to aspire to, they’ll not let effort levels drop.