Why Winning Does Not Always Equal Success.

Too often, the tunnel vision of winning at all costs is getting in the way of our youth making development gains through sports participation.

If you spend any time on social media at all, you will run into one of those scenes where coaches or parents lose their control in and around a young athlete’s event. 

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

Perhaps you unfortunately have witnessed this in person.  Calling from the stands or sidelines, 2nd guessing referee calls or coaches decisions.  In my years of coaching, I have unfortunately witnessed this a few times.

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I am not entirely sure that these are happening more often, although it feels like it is.  We certainly see it more often thanks to the whole world having a video recorder at their fingertips at all times.

Recently, a post on Twitter asked a question:

(Thanks https://twitter.com/bomar19 )

In the comment section and subsequent discussion, the coach and author of these words seemed offended how many would interpret “win at all cost”.

My response is that anything with “win at all cost” spoken to a 9u team is a red flag. A warning and definite cause for concern that the expectations are not where they need to be.

Which leads to the bigger topic.

How is the “win at all costs” mentality affect our young athletes and future citizens? What about the volunteers around the game (coaches, umpires etc.).   

One major repercussion is the decline in participation on all levels, (as we have documented https://thephysicalmovement.substack.com/p/the-physical-movement-leadership )

One could argue that winning at all costs in youth sports, comes from a very insecure place. In fact, leaders and parents have to be very secure to be alright with development when winning is not the outcome.

In fact, even when winning occurs, damage can be done. Much damage.

Valorie Kondos Field has a list of accomplishments as a coach that would make most stop in their tracks.  From 29 years with UCLA Women’s gymnastics, 7 national titles, to hall of fame honors.

Her TED talk on this very topic is 12 minutes of valuable insight to how a coach learned about what was really important in development of young athletes.  Her overview of her journey and experiences and success stories is absolutely must see material for any coach, player or parent involved at any level of sports participation.


Let the conversation begin.

The more we share on the topic, the more we can support organizations in educating all concerned that winning at all costs is destroying youth sports and the development that comes from it.