Learning Vs Winning


By Dr. Gabriel Nigrin

We all have been talking about the philosophy of the SLSA and we have mentioned that this philosophy is specific for our club, which is different from others. Let me explain in detail what this philosophy is.

We have all been witnessing the atmosphere during any soccer game: that is to win at any price, where the players are subjected to both coaches screaming orders and parents trying to tell them what to do, using strong words when the ball is not in the opponents net.

I often felt uncomfortable witnessing such situations. I felt bad, thinking of the child or young adult who experience such humiliation in front of his peers and parents. Whatever skill and understanding of the game he has acquired is drowned in a sea of criticism. He cannot think and give a swift decision in his moves, he retracts to himself thinking that he has failed and to him the game is not fun anymore.

We have to accept that first of all, in youth soccer competition, winning should not be the primary goal. Learning the proper skills and basics in detail are the principal tools the player needs to face his opponent. In addition, once a player has grasped the fundamental skills, it is important to let him try what he has learned in a game situation. It is at that moment that he will use his ability to think and to “SEE” the game and that he will acquire self-confidence. On the other hand, the coach’s function is to keep note of the mistakes done during the game and explain the correction AFTER the game when the tension is already released. Obviously, young players will make mistakes. They will learn from their mistakes provided they are not embarrassed. Otherwise they will be turned off from a game they should enjoy. Let them learn to make their own decision during the game even if it is the wrong one. The role of the coach will be to guide them in a constructive way.

Finally, my advise to the parents is to simply enjoy seeing their children play. It is the most gratifying feeling to see your son or daughter improve in his/her skill, to see their growing confidence and most of all to share their love for the game. To criticize them will hurt their performance and ultimately lose interest in playing.

Lets all remember that our objective is not only to win a game. It is much more than that. It is to learn with proper instructions, to gain confidence, to think and be creative, to give decisions and most of all to enjoy playing ball…

AS MUCH AS I DO …… small_soccer_ball

Dr. Gabriel Nigrin is a retired Pediatric Endocrinologist for St. Vincents Hospital Manhatten, NY & founder and board member of 40 years of the Silver Lake Soccer Club / Academy on Staten Island.

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