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Celebrate the Little Sports Victories


The world of sports loves to celebrate the big victories—the game winning Hail Mary, the shot at the buzzer, the homerun at the bottom of the ninth. And it’s easy to understand why—they’re exciting and awe-inspiring and something extra special. But sports games, especially youth sports, are full of much more little victories than big ones. And it’s those little victories that carry a player through. It’s time to start celebrating the little sports victories! Here are 3 ways how:

1. Set small goals that contribute to the big picture.

A Little Leaguer trying to go 4-for-4 in a tournament game is setting a pretty high bar for himself. Not to say that he can’t knock it out of the park every time he steps up to bat, but when your goals are too lofty it makes them extra hard to achieve. And failing to achieve your goals can take a serious toll on a youth athlete’s self confidence. Instead of focusing on going 4-for-4, why not set a smaller goal (with a smaller victory) and have your player concentrate on choosing the best pitches to swing at. Instead of being so worried about hitting the ball (to the point where they might swing at anything), your youth athlete can concentrate on swinging at the right pitches (the kind you can knock out of the park).Celebrate the Little Sports Victories

2. Focus on what they did better.

Youth athletes make mistakes; it’s part of the program! Youth sports organizations are where young athletes learn the fundamentals of their given sport and there is bound to be a learning curve. Instead of focusing on what they did wrong why not celebrate the little sports victories and what they did right. Say your Little Leaguer finally slid into second base—that deserves some recognition! Maybe they tried to turn a double play, and even if they didn’t get the second out, they still executed it properly—that’s a small sports victory. These little steps of progress are signs of improvement and recognizing them for the steps they are taking can go a long way in building confidence as they work their way up to a big victory.

3. Try to see the positive side no matter what.

Most youth athletes beat themselves up plenty for making a mistake, so there is no need to bring it up time and time again. Even if they lost the game, missed a key play or just didn’t feel like they were “perfect,” focusing on the small victories can help them overcome their disappointment and not let it hold them back. Too many youth athletes are so worried about making the “big play” that it actually hurts their performance. They put so much pressure on themselves to perform that it’s extra hard to bounce back from disappointment. By seeing the positive and focusing on the little sports victories you’ll help your youth athlete learn and grow as a player.


Very good article Jodi. Coaches should look for the "little things" that young players achieve. Like you mentioned, even the attempted DP is a major accomplishment for a youf player and it should be acknowleged! And when I coached, I always looked for 1 or 2 things a young player did properly before I told him about what he might want to correct for the next time. Sometimes it was very difficult to find that positive but I usually found it.
Posted @ Thursday, July 19, 2012 11:20 AM by Larry Cicchiello
Thanks Larry! Always try to find the positive in things without focusing on the negative.
Posted @ Thursday, July 19, 2012 11:26 AM by Jodi Murphy
Thanks, Jodi. I enjoyed this, and have always thought that Project Adventure had it right in encouraging a verbal warm up and cool down for every initiative and element. The coach that plans on a cool down needs to focus throughout the game on the moments when some part of training is realized or some individual has a personal break through, as that becomes a tangible part of learning that can happen regardless of the outcome. Your point here is well taken.
Posted @ Friday, July 20, 2012 7:17 AM by Mike Kinnealey
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