Fail More, But Try to Avoid Mistakes

Team gathers for post game chat

Many girls, by nature, are tentative. Go ahead. Watch the U7 boys play. They throw themselves into the game, into their opponent, get whistled for rough play. Then watch the girls. They fight over offering the other player the ball.  A whole new species.

Girls are tentative, not necessarily because they are being polite, but because they are afraid of making mistakes. The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) advises coaching them to “make more mistakes.” So I do. That, on occasion, has even become a rallying cry. I had a player paint that on her team t-shirt. You go, Emily!

I have coached a lot of kids in losing games. That is, the score at the end wasn’t in our favor. In the game re-cap we gathered in our stretching circle to talk about what we learned. Girls tend naturally to look at their mistakes. And they tend to take the responsibility on themselves. Suzy Germain says this is true even at the highest levels. When Anson would say “we’re not winning headers” we all looked at the ground thinking “that’s me, he’s talking about.” Girls need help learning from “their mistakes.”

Seth Godin’s blog today gives this a new spin. And I like it. Funny how a marketing guru can speak to you about helping kids succeed on the athletic field. He makes a distinction between a mistake and a failure. Failure he says is a “project that doesn’t work, an initiative that teaches you something at the same time the outcome doesn’t move you directly closer to your goal.” But a mistake is “either a failure repeated, doing something for the second time when you should have known better, or a misguided attempt that hindsight reminds you is worth avoiding.”

Ah, the hindsight. So thinking about those sad faces in the “losers circle” I may have been mistaken. Should have taught them to fail more. But next time, let’s make fewer mistakes, huh?

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