Winning, Losing, Success, Failure…

In my 27 years as a coach and a lifetime of playing, I have never seen a soccer game that lacked competitive spirit. Sport, in general, is competition. It doesn’t mater if it is between two national teams competing for the world cup, or two 8 year olds playing in the street. The goal is always to win. And when there is a winner there must be a loser. Yes, we have an occasional draw in soccer, but depending on your team or individual performance, I would say that could be seen as a win or a loss, depending on the competition.

That said, I would suggest my ultimate job as a youth soccer coach is to use the sport to teach youth players how to win with humility; and how to lose with grace while using each as a tool to teach lessons about success and failure and more importantly, how each applies to life. We, as a culture, put such an emphasis on winning and would equate winning with success. However, I would suggest that the two are very different. I believe that you can win and not be successful and you can find success even though you lose.

While a positive result (a win) is one way to measure of success, is it success in itself? What if you play in inferior opponent? What if they outplay you, but you ultimately get the win? I would argue the resulting is relief, not success. Conversely, when playing a superior opponent, out-playing them without the positive result, there is still a sense of success (or at least there should be), but yet it is a loss.

Ultimately, the art of coaching comes down to how we assess both the successes and failures our team experience and utilize each as a tool to develop athletes both mentally and physically.


Jon Pasquini


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