Failure Q and A

By Craig Sigl

I’ve noticed people can take great offense to the word “failure,” especially in a youth sports context. So, first, let’s define what failure is?

As a mental toughness trainer who has worked with thousands of youth athletes, by far the biggest problem is fear of failure. I have looked at and examined this concept and the word and
have determined it to be non-useful in the context of youth sports participation and therefore, my definition of it is: “A destructive word OTHERS use to describe events when they don’t achieve their goal or outcome.”

In other words, I teach that there is NO SUCH THING AS FAILURE. It doesn’t exist except as a useless story in your mind. (get rid of the idea of failure and you get rid of the fear of it).

Second, what can be seemingly offensive about this word?
It’s destructive to all athlete’s confidence, young and old, and it’s completely unnecessary to use the word for any situation or circumstance. I teach my young athletes to use deadly accurate descriptions of events that allow for growth and improvement, not destruction. For example:

– Event:
A baseball player strikes out at the end of the game leaving runners on base when a hit would have won it for them.

– Destructive description of event using “failed”
“I was up to bat in the last inning and failed to get a hit costing my team the game. I was a failure.”

– More useful description of the event:
“I was up to bat in the last inning and struck out. We didn’t win. I did my very best and learned something about myself that I will use the next time I’m out there. I’m now better able to handle that kind of pressure having gone through it.”
(Notice no need for the word “failure” in any of that useful description)

Why do parents want to protect their children from failure?
Some parents do this because they don’t want to witness their children experiencing difficult emotions..usually it’s the mother. This is because those parents are extremely empathetic and can actually feel the difficult emotions themselves when their child is feeling them. The truth is, those parents are protecting themselves from the feelings that come from “failure.”

Do their interventions hinder children in the long run? If so, how?
Absolutely yes. The whole point about childhood is to learn how to handle life and the difficulties we face while having a support and guidance network as a back stop. If children don’t get the opportunity to experience the adversity and work through it, they don’t learn the mental and emotional skills they will need as an adult and the consequences are much greater as we get older.

What potential life skills come from failure?
Ultimately, it’s resilience. When an outcome is not achieved and disappointment and other emotions follow, there’s 2 basic ways kids (and all humans) respond:

1. Wallow in victimhood
2. Learn from the event and come back stronger and smarter

Resilience, or the ability to come back from adversity or “get back on the horse after you fall off” is paramount to building confidence. Confidence cannot be built in the presence of fear. When you conquer anything difficult, you don’t fear it any more. This applies to small kids as well as adults.

How can parents help their child bounce back from failure to be a better person and athlete?

1. Acknowledge and allow the child to express and discharge the difficult feelings after the event.
2. After emotions subside, help them see the silver lining to the dark cloud.
3. Inspire them by reminding them of their proven strengths and abilities.
4. Label them as someone who always comes back or is a “comeback specialist”

If you have any anecdotes and points you would like to add, please let me know.

I have a story I tell often about a 12 year old volleyball player who’s goal was to play on a college team. She came to me in tears telling me “my coach hates me” and a long story about how she is treated unfairly by this coach and was bumped down to the “B” team in her select club.

After she finished, I shocked her by saying loudly: “That’s great!”

“This coach is doing you a huge favor. What if you had nothing but nice coaches the whole way until your senior year in high school AND THEN you got a bad coach like this? And you fell apart like this right when you needed to be at your best for recruiters?”

“BECAUSE of this bad coach, you are here in my office learning mental toughness and by the time you are a senior, you are going to be the most mentally tough player around and it won’t matter whether you have good or bad coaches all along the way. This coach is doing you a huge favor at this age! She said my favorite words:

“I never thought of it that way”

I ran through all 4 of the steps above in that meeting and this girl ended up bouncing back and starting on the “A” team.

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting: http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com

Youth Baseball T-Ball Sticker Program

Who would have thought that there would be so much controversy over Tee Ball bats? Well, now there is. From USA Baseball:

Beginning January 1, 2018, participating National Member Organizations will adopt the USABat standard for youth baseball and tee ball bats. Unlike standard youth baseball bats, tee ball bats (lengths 26” and shorter) are not required to undergo lab testing to receive approval under the USABat Program. However, to be approved for play within the participating National Member Organizations, tee ball bats must feature the USA Baseball mark and accompanying permanent text which reads: ONLY FOR USE WITH APPROVED TEE BALLS

Under USABat standards, USA Baseball will implement the Tee Ball Sticker Program. Through the Tee Ball Sticker Program, coaches, league administrators, and parents can order approved stickers to mark tee ball bats that were purchased prior to the implementation of the USABat standard. This program will allow for the continued use of tee ball bats that were produced prior to youth baseball’s transition over to the new standard.

Below are some of the comments from Little League’s Facebook page after the post announcing the new sticker rule. Some didn’t understand that new bats weren’t required, but we included them because their points do apply to higher levels where new bats will be mandatory:

I would be interested in seeing what perks the Little League organization and its officers have received from bat manufacturers and their lobbies over the last few years…. I find the necessity of this to be questionable and to be honest, somewhat laughable as a Little League parent and coach.

Because we don’t spend enough money for 4 year olds to play. No more hand me down bats now. Must have a “sticker” to play. How many parents will have to tell their kids they can’t afford to buy new equipment so they can’t play? It’s becoming a sport that struggling families can’t afford to pay for.

Maybe I’m reading this wrong but they’re essentially “grandfathering” bats for use in tee ball so leagues don’t have to replace their entire stock of bats to comply with the new standard. I know the majority of our league bats only get used at the tee ball level. Not sure why a sticker is needed but I think it’s good that leagues will still be able to use the tee ball bats they already have.

And finally….

I would love to see the idiots who will sign up to check the tee ball bats…HOLD UP KIDS… illegal bat!!! Cmon…. this is a joke right? Is it April 1st?

Help UNICEF Send 500,000 therapeutic food packets to children facing starvation.

Please help our partners at UNICEF save children in regions facing famine and starvation. Read below:

Right now, 13 countries across Africa and the Middle East are facing one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time.

Famine is threatening 2.5 million children. It’s depriving the youngest and most vulnerable babies and toddlers of nutrition and health, pushing them closer to starvation and even death with every passing day.

But here’s something remarkable: UNICEF purchases an incredible 80% of the world’s Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food Packets (RUTF). We are ready to deliver RUTF packets to those who need it, quickly and efficiently.

Donate in the next 48 hours to help us send 500,000 RUTF packets to children in need — before it’s too late.

At just 37 cents a packet RUTF packets are one of the most cost-effective impacts you can make upon the world’s most vulnerable children. These peanut-paste-filled packets help stop malnutrition in its tracks, bringing health to kids who can’t get the nutrition they need to grow and thrive.

Right now, when famine and near-famine conditions are ravaging thirteen countries, we need RUTF packets to save children’s lives.

Help us send 500,000 desperately-needed RUTF packets to the children who need it most — before it’s too late. Donate in the next 48 hours >>

If you move quickly, together we’ll save lives,

UNICEF USA

Sudden Cardiac Death Leading Cause

The leading cause of death among adolescent athletes is tragic sudden cardiac death, according to a study shared with us by our partners at STOP Sports Injuries.org. Please make sure to get a complete physical for your child before the new sports season begins.

World’s children spending less time outdoors than prisoners

This article, courtesy of Amy Packham, Life Writer at HuffPost UK, and video, are both depressing and inspiring. Let’s get our kids outdoors and appreciate the ability to do so!

PHIT trying to defuse ‘ticking time bomb’

Our partners at PHIT America.org are concerned about the inactivity pandemic gripping America and it’s potential consequences it will have, especially on children and low income families. Help PHIT pass the PHIT act in Congress and support a healthier America!

CoachDeck in North America

Did you know folks are using CoachDeck in all fifty states and every province in Canada? Here is a partial list of who is using CoachDeck. We have become the most trusted resource for volunteer coaches in North America, and we’d like to thank you!