Bumpers in Bowling
In another life, Ten Pin Bowling is part of our business.
About two years ago we took away the safety net of the bumpers. For those of you who have never bowled before, the bumpers prevent the ball from going into the gutters, ensuring that the person playing hits at least 1 pin.
Why did we take them away? Well, it got to the stage where after 2-3 frames, the children were no longer even trying to throw the ball straight, they would just fire it into the bumper, and it would bounce all the way down to the pins....They weren't even trying to learn how to bowl.
So why am I telling you this story? The main reason is because of the parents reaction when we tell them that we no longer have the bumpers on the lanes. They look distraught, as if, how am I going to let my little child down, they might not get a score now. We've even had some ask for their money back because the child wasn't scoring, and these are 9-10 year old children, who had only played 2 out of 10 frames. What lesson is this teaching the children?
Nowadays, alot of parents want success for their children, with immediate effect. But, they are unwilling to teach the great quality of perseverance and hard work, or willing to accept the fact that this might not just work out for the child despite their effort, and the money they pay. They want guarantees for little Johnny.
Sport, like life, has no guarantees, no sure things, and few safety nets. As coaches, we need to take away the bumpers and let the children fail, but make sure they get back up again, learn the lesson and figure out a solution, make sure they persevere.
There is alot of psychology around learning new skills and the processes involved, but the most important skill we can teach is the skill to try and try again.