The way I put it is: “They did studies. On rats.” And I like to think that is enough to make my point. But if you want a longer explanation:
“The best player is.. not the winner of any given game but, among many other things, he or she who is invited by the largest number of others to play the most extensive series of games. It is for this reason, which you may not understand explicitly at the time, that you tell your children: “”It’s not whether you win or loss. It’s how you play the game!””– JB Peterson Beyond Order
Working with children is a surprisingly specific niche. Being ‘good with kids’ is one thing, but in our world one must be ‘great with kids.’ Our coaches understand that we are not just working on some sports specific technique but we have opportunity to help build better people. Part of what we do is based on the seemingly ever changing interests of young children, be it tennis, chess, basketball or any other excuse we have to spend time with them, but the main part of what we do is teaching them to be good people. Rats, interestingly enough, are quite similar to humans in their social interactions and that’s why many studies are conducted on the little guys (and girls).
When larger rats want to play with smaller rats, they have no choice but to let the smaller rats win some portion of the time. If they do not let the smaller rats win periodically, they smaller rats will no longer want to play with the larger rats and therefore the larger rats will be sad. To say that is to say that winning ‘every time’ is actually indirectly related to happiness. But what we work on is not winning per se, but getting along with others as well as playing the game as well as possible.
Believe me; I would NOT have been interested in this concept when I was young but I wish I had understood this much earlier in my life. Now the question is: “How do we help children understand this?”
And remember the #1 rule of Ankle Biters Tennis: “Never try to hit the ball with your face.”
SjB – June 2021