Youth Athletes and Coaches: How Do You Measure Success?

Youth Athletes and Coaches: How Do You Measure Success?

This much I know: no one knows what the hell success means.

In fact, there’s more than one definition, depending on who you are and what you value.

Let me elaborate:

In one corner, there’s the coach who measures success with rankings and wins.

In the other corner, there’s the coach who measures success with player development and happiness.

Or how about, the athlete who measures success based on stats and goals scored.

Or, the youth athlete who measures success based on fighting for his teammates and contributing to the greater picture.

You see, everyone has a unique definition of success. As humans, we have a diversity of values that define who we are and how we act. In the sports world, these can either be detrimental and toxic to ourselves and relationships.

Or they can be fulfilling and meaningful.


So this begs the question: how will you measure you career?

Whether you’re a coach or an athlete, what metrics for success will you choose?

Statistics?
Wins?
Rankings?
Instagram Likes?

Or…

Personal enjoyment?
Teamwork?
Friendships?
Impact on others?

I urge you to get very clear on what you value and what yardstick you use for success.

Too often, I see coaches fixated on wins and rankings, that they forget why they started their careers in the first place: to teach youth athletes sport development.

It seems everyone is succumbing to an ego-feeding pursuit, instead of a connection and relationship-building practice.

Looking to youth soccer players, I see athletes tunnel-visioned with D1 scholarships and prestige and social media likes, that they lose sight of the development path that is best for them emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

When it comes to success, it’s usually measured by superficial, fleeting values vs. deep, long-lasting values.

Venturing out of the sports world, I see my friends judging their success in their dating lives based on how many people they go to dinner with, how high their dates’ incomes are, what job these guys have, how many people they can date at one time, and how attractive they are.

These determinants of success are an issue because they are superficial and unsustainable. Worse yet, they become unfulfilling when they can’t have an authentic relationship built on trust and communication.

Adding on, I always ask, “what if you could date a guy who make six figures, looks like Ronaldo, yet is emotionally abusive?”

Or…

“What if you could date an average looking guy, who makes enough to get by, yet who makes you laugh and smile every day?”

Oddly enough, most women struggle to choose between these two.

Most humans do. We oscillate between superficial concerns and prestige, and a desire for deeper meaning and connection.

As an example, if you tell me playing Fortnite the entire day is your measure of success, then overtime, you may find yourself feeling lonely, sedentary, and isolated.

Going a little deeper, if you tell me getting Instagram followers, likes, and shares is your measure of success, you may find yourself disengaged with your followers, and feel like a distant celebrity, instead of a real human.

To that end, relationships, personal purpose and impact, and connection matter.

And the rest? It’s just noise that makes you believe for a finite moment in time that you’re doing good work.

So before I go, what do you value? How do you want to create impact? How do you want to contribute to your team? How do you want to inspire your youth players?

Answer these questions with integrity.

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