My 12-year-old son didn’t have the best football season this past year. In fact, his team didn’t win one single game. At first, I was frustrated that they couldn’t win one game. Then, after watching them lose I became appreciative of what they were learning. As parents, our job is to encourage our children. Winning is great, but if they don’t win help them learn from it. These are a few of the lessons we learned along the way.

What it feels like to lose

Too often kids expect to win. Losing can be a positive experience for them as well, and they can benefit from a loss. This doesn’t mean you can’t still encourage your child to do their best and try and win. 

How to work harder

Winning doesn’t come easy, you have to push yourself and work your hardest to win. Eli learned this early on in his season, but I think it’s something he hasn’t forgotten.

Learning how to improve for the next game

Every game that they lost my son came home telling me what he was going to do in practice to try and work harder so that they would win. He would come up with ways that he thought could help the team improve and bring those ideas to his coach. 

Why practice is important

I remember the first week of practice in July, Eli hated it. He literally dreaded it. The heat, the laziness from playing Fortnite in the air conditioning — he was certainly not prepared for football but he learned the importance of it. He enjoyed practice and pushing himself harder. He enjoyed encouraging his friends in practice. Practices became his new outlet to release all his frustrations from the day, and he knew this was the only way his team could get better — by sticking to practices. 


This is something that is a constant battle in our home. A 12-year-old boy wants to eat what they want and doesn’t want to hear the words “healthy” thrown at them every single day. It took a while for him to learn the importance of eating a balanced diet, and foods that fuel his body before games. He also learned the importance of hydration, especially after the first week of practice where he thought he could get away with drinking one bottle of water right before practice. Uh, sorry kiddo … can’t do that in Florida for sure. 

Games are not always fair

The first few games were rough. Not all calls by the refs were perfect, but as a parent, you can’t do anything about that. Teams don’t always play fair, and sometimes you just have to let that go. It was hard, but by the end of the season my son accepted their loss and decided he was going to learn and work at being better. 

The importance of working as a team

This one. A team doesn’t lose because of one person. A team doesn’t consist of one person. A team loses as a team. 

What it takes to lead a team

It’s not about just calling plays, it’s about learning what you can do to encourage and try and make your team a better team. Even if you don’t win the game.


If you don’t win a game, there is a reason why. Accountability as an individual, and accountability as a team. You didn’t get that score, or you didn’t win that game because something went wrong in the game. You can improve, your team can improve. In order for that to happen, you have to be accountable for your actions and be willing to learn and improve from them.

How to be an encouragement to others

It’s so easy to get angry at someone on your team for missing a catch, or not throwing the ball out in time. Eli learned that encouraging others to do better, only makes the team better. Not only during the game but during practices.