Making Lemonade out of LemonsThose with the power to take anything that is thrown their way and turn it into something positive truly have the power to save the world. When instead of seeing lemons, we see lemonade - when instead of seeing failure, we see opportunity, we rise above the common person and become invincible. Power is not in the illusion of control of the world around us, but in our ability to perceive the world around us in a healthy and productive way - no matter what comes our way. Youth Sports provides one of the best environments for young people to come to understand the power of perception - and as a consequence, the power of resilience. Getting knocked down and getting back up... experiencing failures and celebrating victories... Learning the relationship between the work we put in and the impact it has on our bodies, our minds, our spirit, and our team... Youth sports gives us the gift of thousands of teachable moments. We just need the ability to find and activate those moments to score in life in a big way. By Photographer unidentified. Retouched by TimofKingsland. [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsEdmund HillaryMountaineer and ExplorerIt's not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves. You're Either Winning or LearningAs a general rule, we're not all that much different from one another. Most of us have the same basic human abilities to adapt to our environment. We've adapted to life through many ages - from pre-historic cold through plagues - from under the seas to the top of Mount Everest. We ask questions of ourselves, throw our spirit against a thing which seems at first insurmountable, and over and over again, we emerge as winners or we learn. As a people, we never lose. We just try again. As a person, we each have that spirit within us. Nelson Mandela, after being badly beaten and thrown in jail for 27 years for his part in leading revolution in South Africa, became perhaps one of the world's most recognized leaders. Evidence of his resilience was shared with the world in one simple quote: "I never lose. I either win or I learn." If a man like Nelson Mandela can emerge after 27 years of fighting from a jail cell and declare to the world that he can "never lose," we have the power to emerge from a bad play or a bad game of youth soccer without being defeated. Where to Find Resilience on the Soccer PitchI don't think resilience comes naturally to everyone. Some kids tend to give up and walk away when things get tough. I do believe, however, that resilience can be learned, and if the environment is set up in such a way as to recognize and promote resilience, it can be absorbed by everyone who participates. Youth sports is going to provide kids lots of opportunities to practice resilience. Every time something doesn't work as planned, they get to practice. Every missed shot, every lost tackle, every time they step on the ball and pull a Charlie Brown, they get to practice. The key, I believe, is in what happens immediately following the opportunity to practice. When a player whiffs a ball and pulls a Charlie Brown (this happens to everyone), coaches and parents have a choice. Do we make it okay? Do we celebrate the whiff as a right of passage and something the player was "finally" able to do - meaning that they are maturing as a soccer player? Or do we cringe and send a signal that the whiff experience is embarrassing and should be avoided at all costs?The way we set up our environment on the pitch and at home make a big difference in whether a child is going to be willing to attempt a hard thing a second time - or tell themselves not to try. Trying again is a key ingredient in resilience. Our OpportunitiesOpportunities to teach / learn resilience on a soccer pitch are everywhere. I always assume that stuff happens off the pitch before kids ever show up. They may have had a rough day. Home life might not be the best. They may have had a fight in school.
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