Why do we play sports, if not to win? Coaches, players, parents, managers, and most everyone involved in any team will likely agree that the whole point of playing sports and competing is to win. However, coaches have an opportunity to have a positive influence on their athletes that maybe no one else does, and that has a far more meaningful impact than winning any number of championships. Often times, coaches let their own desire to win block their view of the positive impact they can have on their athletes.

What many coaches do not realize is that they will be one of the most influential figures in a child’s life, especially if they coach a younger age group. That being said, it is the responsibility of the coach to help develop some principles that chidren will hold onto forever. One of these is the concept that winning is not correlated to greatness. Children, and many people alike, assume that to prove greatness, we need to be dominant; in the arena of sport this is represented by winning the championship or achieving whatever the highest accolade in the respective sport is. As coaches, it is vital to help young athletes understand that winning is not the only way to show that they are great.

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If a child believes that their success rate determines their worth in all aspects of life, they are being set up for disappointment down the road. It is impereative that coaches, parents, managers, and strength coaches alike coach and teach the same message: effort, not winning, determines greatness. If members of team support one another physically and emotionally, always strive to create a positive atmosphere, and always gives their best effort – and encourage their teammates to do the same – then they will be infinitely more fulfilled than if they had won every championship in their entire athletic career.

Winning is a great achievement and should be strived for in any athletic environment, but caring for and supporting ones teammates is a far better lesson that will help young athletes mature into truly great people, rather than just championship winners. Hear from Ron McKeefery, former Director of Strength and Conditioning at Eastern Michigan University, as he reminds us to encourage greatness in those around us.

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