April 5, 2016
Winning and losing are a part of any sport. While I was wrestling, I was fortunate to have a lot of wins both big and small. However, in order to get to that point, I also had my fair share of losing with losses both big and small as well. Losing isn’t any fun, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it sucks. The key to being a champion is to not let your losses get you down to much to take you off track of what your ultimate goals and dreams are whether that is to be a varsity wrestler or a state champion. Your goals as a parent will probably vary from your wrestler’s goals are. I am sure that you would love to see your child succeed, but you also want them to learn from the experiences that they are going through as an athlete and find a way for them to use those lessons to become a better human being and contributing member of society. Here are some ideas on how you can help your wrestler when things get tough.
1. Help your child focus on the process more than the outcome. I had a coach who told me that if I focused on the process and constantly improving, that winning and losing would take care of itself. You know what? He was right. Some of the most successful times that I had in my wrestling career was when I was focused on the process of improving. It didn’t make losing any easier, but when I felt like I was constantly improving, I really enjoyed the sport. During times of my career when I didn’t feel like I was improving, I would feel discouraged. If you can help your child to see the ways that they are improving, more than likely they will still enjoy what they are doing.
2. Find examples of others who failed but ultimately succeeded. Everyone loves a winner, and sometimes we forget that we too can be winners. By reading biographies or learning about other people’s stories who have struggled but then succeeded, it becomes more evident that the people who succeed are just regular people who committed to their goals and worked like crazy to accomplish them. If your child can understand that every success has to overcome defeat, it can help them to keep pushing forward even when times get tough.
3. Discover the power of affirmations and positive thinking. Affirmations and positive thinking are a great way to stay confident even when faced with defeat. Your attitude will definitely determine your altitude in life. If your child can get into the habit of repeating their affirmations to themselves on a regular basis, they will be able to gain the confidence and belief that they need to succeed. I can’t expound on the science behind it, but I can tell you that it works. Try to find the positives from difficult situations. By asking better questions, we will find better answers. A great question to ask from a loss is “What can I learn from this, and how can I use this experience to get better?” Your life will go where you focus it. Do your best to focus on the positive, and your child will see that and follow suit. It is amazing what good observers they are.
To summarize here is what you can do to help your child stay motivated and confident even when they are losing: focus on the process, find successful examples, and keep a positive mental attitude. If you are able to help your child implement these action steps, they may still find disappointment in losses and temporary setbacks, but they will learn to develop the skill of overcoming hardship and succeeding in the long run. That lesson is one that is much needed in life, and life is much more important to win at than a wrestling match.