Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Can a winning mentality be taught?

I am well aware of the fact that I have already taken up too much space on this blog venting my spleen on the subject of the shambolic England 'football' team. However, a similarly disillusioned television pundit made a great point last night that has got me thinking about the responsibility parents have when it comes to the mental upbringing of their children.

Now, I am also aware that, as my son or daughter has yet to be born, I am utterly unqualified to tell anyone how to bring up their children, so please feel free to disregard this blog the minute you've read it. However, the aforementioned television pundit made his point when discussing the difference between England's failures and Germany's victors.

"The Germans," he said. "Approach every game and handle every opportunity with the mentality that 'this is my moment to become a hero, to write my name in football history.' The English, on the other hand, approach every game and handle every opportunity with the mentality that 'ooh blimey, this is an awful lot of pressure, what will people say if I mess up?'"

So the question we have to ask ourselves is why do we all think like this? And is there anything we can do to become a bit more Germanic in our approach to winning?

Personally, I feel that competition is healthy and good for children and that the "it's not the winning, it's the taking part" brigade could inadvertently be doing more harm than good to our impressionable little ones. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks that we should be encouraging our children to enjoy competition, to be confident in their abilities and confident in their actions.

Yes, kids will make mistakes and no, they shouldn't be berated for them. Instead, we should be encouraging our children to try new things, to take risks, to try those things that are just as likely to go spectacularly wrong as they are to go spectacularly right. Sometimes the safe option is just that, safe, while the risky option could be the one that makes the difference, leads to the winning goal and makes history.

There's no doubt that sport, as with so much in life, is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one, but I honestly believe that competition, coupled with positive reassurance with regards to risk taking and adventure, is exactly what's needed from a young age in order to create footballers, and people,  who want to grab their history defining moments with both hands, rather than shy away and disappear without trace.

Lecture over.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Mr B. I agree that a winning and losing mentality can be bred into our offspring. The fact is that as an individual your strongest thoughts do become reality. The Germans were clearly thinking about how great the game would be if they won it and the English were more concerned about how bad it would be if we lost. Their thoughts did become the reality. Think Win and more often than not you will or at least you will have a better fighting chance.

    As someone who works in schools, it's often the case that I come across children who have been told that they, "will never be good enough at X,Y and Z" and so they start to believe this and it becomes their reality. Do you think these kids are going to do well at school, university or when playing sports? No, probably not.

    As parents it is our duty to encourage our children to be successful and think positively about anything and everything that they do. If we do not they could lead a life of mediocrecy and their is more to life than this.