How to Make Your Biggest Failure Your Greatest Lesson

By Head Coach Travis Davison

At IBJJF Kids Pan Ams this year I was with my friend Rory Singer from SBG in Athens, Georgia, when his son Xander lost a match.

Xander put fantastic effort into his match, but he still lost. He came off the mat crying and nursing an injured arm. When it was time for Xander to get his bronze medal, Rory said to him, “Even daddy takes those home.”

As a coach watching kids BJJ athletes from my gym lose match after match and consoling disappointed children all day, it was frustrating.

I want my students to care and be upset that they lost. That’s always the goal, that they be upset and then use that as motivation train better, try harder, practice, and then try again. I don’t mind hurt feelings  as long as it’s not devastating or permanent.

But I don’t want them to feel so disappointed that they feel like a failure. That’s hard even for adults to do, but with kids it’s even more difficult.

For kids BJJ, competition is one of the best lessons in failure.

It teaches kids that they can try their best and fail, and it isn’t the end. It’s just part of the process.

Failure is a big part of the road to success.

When we travel to tournaments in Washington and Oregon, Nevada and California, competing with kids BJJ athletes from all over the world, this is what I want your child to take away from the experience.

Your child will only be successful when they’ve also learned to face failure. 

They need to pick themselves up when they’ve been bested by an opponent.

They need to recognize that they fell short so they can learn from those mistakes rather than run from them. 

They need to learn that they can take risks and fail and not be devastated so they can get back up again.

The next time that Xander and the other Growing Gorillas train for a tournament, they will train to be smarter and stronger than they were at Pan Ams.

That is the true mark of a winner.

Photo Credit: Ary Dalton