Everyone wants to win. It’s fun and it makes you feel good. But, if you win all the time, say >80% of your games, it that a good thing?
If your goal is to collect trophies, then winning tournaments every weekend is the way to do it. The easiest way to achieve this goal is to play in tournaments against weaker competition.
But, winning all the time can be a dangerous. Talented players learn that they do not need to give full effort and focus to win. Bad habits and ugly baseball emerge. If you have an especially talented group, you can win 80+% of your games, and your players could actually regress during the season.
You can learn a lot from winning. But, if winning is too easy, the lessons are negative.
If your primary goal is to develop players and help them reach their potential, then winning is a secondary priority. The way to achieve this goal is to play only against the top competition each weekend, or to “play up” against older players. Against better competition, every game matters and there are no easy games where you can consistently win despite bad habits or poor style of play.
But, you still need to be competitive against the top competition. If you win 30% of your games, but every game is competitive, players can get a lot better. If you get blown out, then the players get discouraged and lose their passion for the game. Losing is not fun. If you lose too much, that can also create the opportunity for bad habits to emerge.
So, do you learn more from winning or from losing? In my opinion, you learn the most when you do both — win 40-60% of your games. In you win 80% of your games, you need to play against better competition to develop your players. If you win 30% of your games, then your players will get discouraged.
In 2010, our high school teams won 67% of games. Our middle school teams won 68% of games. In 2011, we are looking to ratchet our schedules up a notch, especially at 15u and 16u (it would be hard for our 17u’s to play a more challenging schedule without flying South every weekend).