The Power of Encouragement

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I had the pleasure of attending a girl’s middle school volleyball game this week and the teams were separated into Team A and Team B. The teams were unevenly matched, and a family member of mine was on Team A. As I was watching both games I paid close attention to how the two teams conducted themselves. The girls on Team B lost both games by a substantial margin. It was without doubt a long afternoon for them.  On the other hand, they WON in character, never giving up or showing any negative behavior. The level of sportsmanship they demonstrated might not have showed up on the scoreboard, but it was evident to all in the gymnasium.

The ladies on Team A won both of their games and also demonstrated good sportsmanship. There was no overt celebration and the ladies handled themselves with class throughout the entirety of both games. However, the most important difference between Team A and Team B was not evident on the scoreboard.

During the two games that the young ladies played, I observed Team A, give each other support and encouragement that allowed them to work together for success. I did not on the other hand observe the same for Team B. The ladies on Team B showed very little support for each other. There were few if any moments throughout the game when they encouraged one another.

As I considered these differences, I had to wonder if the lack of encouragement was a key factor in how the two teams played, and the overall outcome of the games.

Talent has and will always play a major role in the success of a sports team. The more talented team enters the game with a distinct advantage. However, the beauty of sports is that anything can happen once the game begins. Energy is the one factor that can shift the momentum of a game within an instant and there is no energy like enthusiastic encouragement. The benefits of enthusiastic encouragement are not only prevalent in sports, but in all aspects of life.

March Madness is upon us and every College Basketball team in the country is fighting for their basketball lives. Typically the games are played at a neutral site, but sometimes a team gets to play close to their home and the fan support resembles a home game. It is in those games that you can tell that the team with the larger home crowd plays with more purpose. The enthusiastic encouragement from the fans carries over to the players on the court. Yet, you can never replace the energy generated by the team itself on the court and in the locker-room.

It is essential that parents, coaches, teachers and any one that plays a crucial part in a child’s  life, stress the importance of working and playing together with encouragement and support.

What are your thoughts?