“If winning isn’t important, why then do we keep score”
When I started coaching I was 25 and started with a team at under 10s, everything that I did was about winning the game the following week. If that meant changing positions to put my biggest lad against the oppositions smallest then I would or if we could just barge through them up the middle then that became the game plan but the outlook was very short term, sure at under 10s and 11s we where winning games but does that really matter?
All those years ago I would have argued with anyone until I was blue in the face that winning mattered to both the kids and the parents and no one could have swayed me otherwise however over the last 5 years that outlook and those views have spun 360 degrees and as I prepare to take on my next team at under 10s I really couldn’t care if they don’t win another game for the next 3 years, let me try and explain why.
It’s all about development
Winning is nice and it puts a smile on everyone’s face but the joy is short lived, that result is forgotten as soon as the next game comes around however if a child pulls out a fantastic piece of skill or the team score a fantastic try then how much longer does that live in everyone’s memory.
As a coach now I like to set targets based around skill development, using the tackle technique that we have worked on or passing the ball correctly. This week we have been working on winning the tackle and the associated techniques, if I see the players use what they have learnt and attempt to win the floor yet they loose the game then I will be more than happy.
Skill development with these younger players without the pressure of winning the game will bode well for when winning does become more of a priority at 13 / 14 year old.
Let the younger players have fun, remove the pressure and watch them develop.
Make sure that everyone involved is singing from the same hymn sheet, Mums and Dads, Nana and Grandads or brothers and sisters need to concentrate on positive support without putting a young child under pressure, don’t mention winning and losing, don’t pay players for scoring tries or winning games but a McDonald’s for hard work or an unselfish pass never went amiss.
Give your players the tools they require, concentrate on performance both individually and as a team and winning will look after itself (eventually).