Defining "Success" in Sports

Defining "Success" in Sports
Posted on 02/05/2019
By Joseph Ekhoff


Defining success in sports means something different to everyone. Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. There are many different perspectives of success from parents, athletes, coaches, and administration. Oftentimes success and the win-loss column go hand-in-hand, but is it the best way to measure success? I feel like success can be measured from different perspectives. Success as a team and an individual differ.

Can a team have a successful season with a losing record? The importance of wins and losses cannot be understated. The culture of an entire school can change depending on whether or not the football teams goes 8-2 or 2-8. Does that mean one season is more successful than the other? In some ways yes, but there are also arguments for the opposition. We should consider what the goals were going into the season. By setting objectives or team goals, we can better track success. This can include win-loss record, time spent on team building, community service, academic achievement, or overall participation. I believe high school athletics are more than just wins and losses on a scoreboard.

Individual success in sports is often tied to the success of the team but it is not the only factor. Each athlete has to be realistic of their role on the team. This can be difficult for some athletes, as they may feel that their role may not be clearly defined or clearly accepted. Failure often results from a lack of communication or rather, miscommunication. This failure can be avoided. Do not be afraid to have open and frank conversation with coaches. Failure in sports is also necessary for growth and leads to future successes by encouraging athletes to be patient, persistent, and resilient. It may sound simple, but athletes who give their best effort in everything they can control will find some levels of personal success in sports.

Athletes or teams can define “success” in these different ways; here are a few tried-and-true suggestions to achieve it. First, adopt a positive mental attitude. A majority of the most successful athletes out there report that from an early age nothing was given to them, and that hard work and commitment to improving was the only way to persevere and achieve success. Second, dedication! Train hard and hold yourself accountable. You are the only one that is truly in charge of your future success. Third, find your balance in life. This can be tricky. Find a way to balance sports and the other aspects of your life. If you let the quest for success overtake you, then the most important part of sports can be lost: FUN! It is okay to take a break; just never lose sight of your goals! 

There will be many highs and lows throughout any sports season. How we handle adversity will often be a determining factor in the success of the team and individual athletes. It’s not all about the wins and losses; success is the complex equation of overall and personal growth and achievement that occurs in every sport! 

“Success is the peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” 
Coach John Wooden

Mountain View Baseball Champions


Source List

Sean P. Cumming, Frank L. Smoll, Ronald E. Smith & Joel R. Grossbard (2007) Is Winning Everything? The Relative Contributions of Motivational Climate and Won-Lost Percentage in Youth Sports,Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 19:3, 322-336, DOI: 10.1080/10413200701342640

Taylor, J., Phd. (2017, October 26). Define Success for Your Young Athletes. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201710/define-success-your-young-athletes

Mango, K. (2010, February 13). A Definition of "True Success". Retrieved December 12, 2018, from http://www.chicagonow.com/the-athletes-sports-experience-making-a-difference/2010/02/a-definition-of-true-success/

Hoch, D., Phd. (2016, December 20). Ideas on Measuring Success in Education-based Athletics. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.nfhs.org/articles/ideas-on-measuring-success-in-education-based-athletics/

Martinez, D. (2017, March 27). How Coaches and Trainers Define Success - SimpliFaster. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://simplifaster.com/articles/coaches-trainers-define-success/

Willenbrock, P. J., EdD. (2015, January 29). Defining Success. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from http://athleticmanagement.com/2012/08/18/defining_success/index.php

Thompson, P. (2018, March 28). 7 Qualities That Define Athletic Success. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://swimswam.com/7-qualities-that-define-athletic-success/

Hereford, Z. (n.d.). Success In Sports and In Life. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.essentiallifeskills.net/successin.html

Etiel, D. (2010, October 15). Keys to Athletic Success. Retrieved December 12, 2019, from http://www.layups.com/keys-to-athletic-success/



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