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Failing Toward Success

A life lesson from a lifelong athlete by Coach Amanda Friedman

Katy, TX | Volleyball | Passion | Youth Sports | Raising the Standards


Thousands of Attempts

Most kids growing up are taught from a young age that failing is not an option and success must be achieved without exception or explanation. However, athletes are not most kids. Athletes must fail in order to teach themselves to achieve success. Athletes, specifically volleyball players, are taught both individual skills and strategies from various styles of coaching to become successful on the court. The only way to learn success in volleyball and many other sports is to make thousands of attempts, which may fail, but true athletes self-correct, attempt again, and eventually succeed.

“Athletes are special because they are taught how to handle failure through mental toughness by understanding what they cannot control and strengthening what they can.” - Coach Amanda

Pursuit of Success

Failing as an athlete began early in my childhood when I started playing volleyball in 5th grade. My mother still made me play other sports, even though I quickly loved volleyball, because she didn’t want me to miss out on anything. I couldn’t quit these other sports even if I was terrible at them because she knew the importance of finishing what I started and overcoming the different challenges those sports presented.

Unlike most other sports, volleyball is as much mental as it is physical due to the speed of the game and the true requirement to succeed both individually and as a team. It is one of the most trust-acceptance sports out there where you must trust yourself and then your teammates. If you don’t trust in yourself, how can your teammates trust you? Trusting oneself comes from failing so many times, self-correcting and retraining, that success and trust start to come natural for your own skills and the connection with one’s team. Athletes must also trust in their coaches to protect their mental and physical skills through their coaching and mentorship styles.

The Impact of a Coach

Throughout my athletic career I’ve had many coaches with all kinds of styles you can think of, but one of the most influential and impactful coaches in my life was my high school coach. Her style was not being a “yeller”, but one of the only times she ever raised her voice to me was in practice when I had ripped the ball into the net for the 100th time and I said “I’m sorry”. To say the least, she flipped. I can see her so clearly saying,

“The moment you said “I’m sorry” you gave up on yourself because you are scared to fail. You need to see that you made those successful failed attempts to figure out the right way to succeed. I don’t ask for perfection, I ask for confidence and humility.”

My coaches would show and train new skills, then set the drills in motion with clear consequences. These consequences held us accountable and were not meant to punish, but to clearly establish that failure is an option that can and will occur. Failure doesn’t feel good, mentally or physically, therefore we became highly motivated to figure out how to succeed!

I strive to be a coach that teaches players to fail without viewing it as a total defeat but instead as an opportunity to try again until they achieve success. If we continue to fail without growth, mentally or physically, then I have failed them as a coach.

We All Grow Up

Life is similar to the repetitive process of failing first before succeeding; there are no shortcuts, loopholes, or cookie-cutter solutions. I was taught early on that failing in any format shows accountability to oneself.

My personal life this past year had a similar course to that one practice with 100 failures. However, as an athlete with A LOT of practice failing towards success, those lessons helped me to regain my self confidence and find the humility to make one of the biggest and most successful changes I have ever made for myself and my daughter Zelda. Today I don’t apologize when I’m not perfect on my first or 100th attempt and with the self confidence I gained through those tough practices and games has helped me become confident to attempt anything life throws at me.

This also has carried over to teaching my daughter that everything she attempts has two options, failure or success, with failing being the primary until she is learning how to handle those tough emotions and that she will eventually succeed.

As a parent and a coach, both mine and your kids are being prepared, sometimes painfully, for all of the future challenges they will face throughout life when we aren’t there to pick them up. Our athletes must be able to overcome failures on their own and by participating in a competitive team sport like volleyball, regardless of their abilities or the playing time they receive, they will be ahead of any kid that doesn't experience failure as much as they do when playing sports.

"From myself and all the coaches at Houston Force, we thank you for letting us teach your kids how to successfully fail and overcome any challenge they face. "

Coach Amanda has coached for Houston Force for 5 years and shows great leadership with our coaches and families. Learn more on her Bio Page!

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