The article below appeared in the LA Times this past week. The article
shows the importance of training youth coaches and the effect it can
have on youth athletes if they are coached by coaches who have not been
trained. The Founder and Executive Director of Positive Coaching
Alliance Jim Thompson is quoted in the article. If you have any
questions about the article or how Positive Coaching Alliance can work
with your youth sports organization, please feel free to give me a call.
*March* 19, 2007 Monday
SECTION: HEALTH; Features Desk; Part F; Pg. 12
HEADLINE: Hey, coach: Remember, winning isn't everything;
Training coaches can make a difference in how young athletes feel about
BYLINE: Jeannine Stein, Times Staff Writer
Don't let the cute uniforms fool you -- *youth sports* can be fraught
with as much pressure, stress and win-at-all-costs mentality as the pro
leagues. Eventually, some kids just give up.
Training the coaches might make a difference.
Adults who are taught to emphasize learning from mistakes, doing one's
best and having fun can greatly reduce stress in young athletes, two
recently published studies found. They're also more likely to motivate
kids toward bigger goals.
"If we view sports as something that's really important in the
development of children, then we want to create a climate in which
children are going to enjoy sports and develop healthy attitudes and
values about sports -- creating an environment in which people don't
have high levels of fear," says Ronald Smith, psychology professor and
director of the clinical psychology program at the University of
Washington in Seattle.
He co-wrote the studies, which appeared in the March issue of the
Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology and the February issue of the
Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. Both followed two groups of male
and female basketball players (216 total), ages 10 to 14 with similar
demographics, plus 37 coaches, all from parks and recreation programs in
the Seattle area.
About half of the players were coached by men and women who had gone
through a 75-minute workshop on teaching athletes how to learn from
mistakes, how to define success as doing the best one can and how to
enjoy the game. Those adults had also been taught how to provide
individual attention and how to encourage players to set personal goals
The other players -- the control group -- were led by coaches who did
not attend the workshop and who coached in their usual manner. All
athletes had two hour-long practices, plus one game per week for 12 weeks.
At the beginning and end of the season, both groups of players filled
out questionnaires measuring their sports-related achievement goals,
anxiety and feelings about themselves. They were asked if they felt more
successful when they were better than other athletes or when they gave
their best effort; if they persisted in the face of difficulty; if they
felt queasy when they competed; and if they worried about not performing
At the conclusion of the study, those in the control group showed an
increase in anxiety levels, while the study group's anxiety levels
dramatically decreased. Achievement goals changed for the study group;
they were more oriented, for example, toward feeling successful when
playing better. The control group scored higher on questions that
related to ego, such as feeling more successful when the team wins.
Although Smith has studied anxiety and self-esteem as it relates to
sports, this is the first time he has examined achievement goals. "Using
this incredible vehicle for personal development of children can cut
both ways," Smith said. "It can result in very positive psychological
consequences -- and can unfortunately have negative consequences for kids."
Using elite young competitors as an example, he added: "These gifted
athletes get to be 13, 14, 15, and they're burned out and they withdraw
from the activity. That's really a shame."
*Jim Thompson,* founder and executive director of the Palo Alto-based
*Positive Coaching Alliance*, which conducts coaching workshops for
*youth sports* programs, says that the average youth coach is unlikely
to get any training whatsoever. If he or she does, he says, it usually
focuses on skills.
"Very few coaches get preparation in what might generally be called
sport psychology -- the art of coaching."
Many youth coaches are parents with little or no experience, Thompson
says. "They feel a lot of pressure to win because of ego. They're not
prepared to take advantage of what we call the endless procession of
teachable moments that sports provides."
Missing a free throw, for example, doesn't have to be a disaster:
"Making it OK for them to miss," he adds, "makes it more likely for them
to make it."
Overly involved parents are also something a coach "should be prepared
to deal with, and promoting this mastery type of approach would
alleviate some of that," says Dave Czesniuk, director of operations for
the Center for Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University in
Boston, a research, education and advocacy program. "When you hear about
coaches subbing in better players against league rules in order to get a
victory, clearly they've missed the point of developing athletes and
serving as role models."
Smith says the training program (to learn more, go to www.wardepub.com
) is being used with children and coaches in
inner-city Chicago neighborhoods as part of an after-school initiative
by the William T. Grant Foundation, which partly funded the research.
"The positive side of this," he says, "is that it can be fixed when
people have the information they need." As for the kids who leave
sports, "when they drift out," says Smith, "there's concern about what
they'll drift into."
Partner Development Associate
Positive Coaching Alliance
Madison Youth Lacrosse & Positive Coaching Alliance Presents
“2007 Season-Opening Parents Practice ”
Date: Saturday, March 31, 2007
Location: Polson Auditorium
This MYL “Parents Practice” is the kick-off to the 2007 MYL lacrosse season.MYL will not have “player’s” practices at this time on March 31st, so that ALL parents can attend this extremely important information and education session.
All MYL Parents are “REQUIRED” to attend.The meeting will include an introduction to your child’s Head Coach to discuss the team philosophy, their coaching style, and ’07 expectations.In addition, your child’s coach will hand out updated and revised schedules for the season, including practice times/day/and games.
In conjunction with PCA, we will also include a workshop during this meeting. The program will cost $5 per family to pay for the PCA Workbook that will be a valuable tool for you throughout the season.
In the PCA workshop, parents will...
learn how to help their children get the most from the youth sports experience
learn how to help coaches and league leaders establish and maintain a positive competitive environment inside youth sports
enjoy an interactive discussion with fellow parents and a facilitator with extensive coaching experience
A VARIETY OF MYL MERCHANDISE WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR SALE – GET YOUR MYL GARMENTS FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF THE PROGRAM AND SO YOU CAN SHOW YOUR “FAN” STATUS ON THE SIDELINES DURING GAMES!
What Coaches & Parents are saying about Positive Coaching workshops:
"In our second year of PCA partnership, we were able to decrease season ejections by 90% and increase team morale so much that player enrollment increased over 20% (from 1400 to 1700), from one season to the next...can you help us find more fields?" ~ President, Pleasant Hill Baseball Assoc.
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"I learned lot of things I can take home and use with my son right away.This was great!I am sorry to admit I would not have come if it had not been mandatory, and now I think all parents should be 'forced' to come!" ~ Parent - Alameda Soccer Club
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We have become a more positive coaching staff over the past 2 years and have gotten the teams’ parents on board…At the Ossining, NY, AYSO tournament, we were the first team in the history of the tournament to win both the Tournament and the Sportsmanship Trophy.~ President, Scarsdale Youth Soccer Club
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“I was taken by the signs in the locker room welcoming Lick and wishing the team good luck, as well as the large’ welcome’ sign in the gym.I also was impressed by your own intervention with a few fans talking trash during the game.You showed a lot of class and created a good feeling in the gym. Compared to the bitterness and rancor that often attends matches, MarinAcademy obviously knows how to do it right, and I was very grateful to see such a display of good sportsmanship.Thanks for the leadership.”~Note to Marin Academy AD from Lick-Wilmerding High basketball coach