How do we measure results? Most people will measure results by the outcome of an event. Young athletes will begin to measure them by how we communicate the outcome of those results. For example, at an early age, children don’t know the difference between winning and losing. When you sign them up to play a sport, it is often between the ages of 3 and 5. They know when something happens and everyone cheers, it must have been good! They know that the snacks are provided after the sporting event is completed, but never do they know what the result of the game was, and frankly they don’t care because they’re just having fun. However, as soon as someone (parent or coach) introduces a result, life as it pertains to competition will never be the same.

Knowing what a result is and what it does is important since it’s the beginning of goal introduction. Once we show how results are a driving force behind winning and losing, we can teach goal focus and how to obtain such goals. Young Peter playing soccer at the age of 7 says, “I want to score 2 goals today so my team can win.” Mom says, “Peter, is that your goal today?” Peter says, “Yes, mom.” We now have a young child that will look at an unwritten goal and be able to measure the result of those goals at the end of the soccer game. However, to score those goals takes work and effort, which is a process that is often overlooked or not clearly identified in the pursuit of the result. The process to establish a goal and work toward it becomes as significant as the “win” at the end. Through goal planning, an athlete can identify the steps he or she takes to achieve the goal, which allows him or her to take measurable strides towards accomplishing the desired result. This is a recognizable process that has its own value. By creating the system of action to achieve the goal, you are establishing a pattern of behaviors and procedures that can be sustained well past the time that the goal was fulfilled.

As athletes get older, we want to educate them on the importance of preparation and the impact that it has on results versus solely chasing the results. We’ve heard the term, “trophy kids” thrown around quite a bit lately and that speaks to chasing the results versus the preparation. Kids want recognition for their performance, but they aren’t often taught the skills and steps to ensure the success they seek. Teaching them goal planning provides the building blocks for them to define their goals and establish actions to achieve them. We must remember our goal with these young athletes is to help them develop what this will all look like so they will be best prepared as they become adults. Will they acquire a job and focus on the results without having the skills needed to follow a process that leads to a result? If so, they will have challenges with organization, planning and preparation and goal focus. However, with the proper training in youth sports, they’ll have the skills needed to properly obtain the results they so desire. Through the pastime of sports, we can teach our youth important life skills that they will be able to apply into their professional life in the future.