Courage to Face Failure

24 Dec

Both of my sons had belt testing at their Tae Kwon Do practice last night.  They were both testing for the high blue belt.

The testing has several phases.  The first is a “Form” (a choreographed series of hand, body, and leg movements that showcases some of the new techniques learned during the current belt), kicking, and sparring.  Sparring has been a recent addition for our kids.

The rules of sparring are simple – use the maneuvers learned in other parts of the class in 1v1 combat with an opponent of similar level.  Most often, the kids use one of several front kicks to try to strike their opponent on the protective equipment.

But I noticed Aidan several times attempt to use kicks that involve a full body rotation – a more recent instruction that the kids at this level learned.  The move required more skill (and was slower for the kids to perform) but obviously Aidan thought that if he performed it well, and landed it well, then it would place him at good advantage on his opponent (and earn the Master’s approval in the process.)

It didn’t work for him.  But in the process, it reminded me of what I saw on the soccer pitch this fall.

So often, we teach kids skills in practice that they could use in the course of games – specific turns and maneuvers with the ball – that if mastered to some degree would provide the player open space on the field and maintain possession of the ball.  But I think a lot of kids don’t use them in the course of a match because they fear the downside if they fail.

It’s an environment that has to be changed.  Failure, in these scenarios – is when the athlete fails to try.


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