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Podcast | The Impact of a 'Win at All Costs' Mentality

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 09/19/17, 1:30PM EDT

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It’s no secret that at the highest levels of sport, some athletes, trainers, coaches and administrators do whatever it takes to win. But in an era where that can been seen and emulated within our local sports leagues, and sometimes even in to our own backyards, is it time we ask the question: Is the win-at-all-costs mindset ruining youth sports?

There is a misconception that higher levels of hockey bring in more extreme reactions from parents, and that is not the case according to Richard Monette, publisher and editor-in-chief of Active for Life. His professional activities span the disciplines of business, sport psychology and education. He is part of the B2ten leadership team and leads the Active for Life initiative.

“There is a quiet majority of parents for who winning is not the ultimate result,” said Monette. “I think there is a very vocal minority of parents and coaches for who winning at all costs is really important. I think they’re a bit more vocal than they used to be.”

It’s about defining and understanding what ‘success’ means in minor hockey. Balancing fun and development with the desire for healthy competition and growth is key for a positive hockey experience.

“There’s winning in the short term and success in the long term and often, winning right now, all the time, doesn’t lead to success in the long term. There’s a lot to be learned through different aspects of competing. Winning in itself is not a bad thing, it’s how you act as you’re trying to win and how you react to your defeat and your challenges that makes the difference.”

Can you win from losing? There are life lessons that come from defeat. Learning to lose graciously and working hard to improve are all a part of what Monette describes as a ‘growth mindset’. The positives that come from players realizing that they could’ve done better or worked more on their skills outweigh a player thinking that there is nothing left to improve upon because of how easily wins may have come to them.

There are many parents who understand that it’s about fun, developing kids and building up resilience. Despite the famous stories of athletes like Tiger Woods who specialized in one sport early at a young age, there is a growing trend of those who are now changing the focus on the importance of creating multi-sport athletes and the cautions of preventing over-use injuries.

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