Athletes differ a lot in their reactions to a loss. Some may be barely affected or may forget the loss almost immediately. Others will be virtually devastated and may be low-spirited for days. When you perceive that a young athlete feels down after a loss, you should give him or her a chance to feel and express the emotion. For example, if a youngster cries after losing, this is a realistic expression of depth of feeling and should be accepted as such. At a time like this, a child needs support from significant others, rather than a command to “toughen up.”
Respect and acceptance of feelings demands that parents and coaches not deny or distort what the child is feeling. For example, if a softball player struck out three times, she doesn’t want to hear, “You did great.” She knows she didn’t, and your attempts to comfort her may well come through as a lack of sincerity and understanding. Likewise, it isn’t very helpful to tell a child, “It doesn’t matter.” The fact is that at that moment it matters a lot!
What are some guidelines for parents’ and coaches’ post-game behavior after a loss?
What are some tips for helping young athletes deal with losing?