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There is a nation-wide epidemic of poor sportsmanship at all levels of youth sports, by the parents, the coaches, and the athletes. The nightly news shows parents fighting with one another, coaches lying about the age of their players, and the young athletes imitating the showboating and trash-talking antics of the professional leagues. In response, districts have tried to come up with Pledges in which participants agree to certain good sportsmanship rules, however without a complete rethink of youth sports and a practical program for implementing sportsmanship such Pledges are just words.
Jim Thompson, Director of the Positive Coaching Alliance, provides a new foundation for youth sports. Thompson offers coaches and parents the essential tools to combine the desire to win with the more important goal of using sports to teach life lessons and build character in young athletes. The Double-Goal Coach draws from current sport psychology and proven coaching techniques to provide coaches and parents the practical tools that can be used to make youth sports a fun and enriching experience.
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The Double-Goal CoachPositive Coaching Tools for Honoring the Game and Developing Winners in Sports and Life
By Jim Thompson
Harper Collins PublishersCopyright © 2003 Jim Thompson All right reserved. ISBN: 0060505311
The Double-Goal Coach: Beyond the Win-at-All-Cost Mentality
Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. - Carol Williams
A fictional 11-year-old character in the film Trouble Along the Way (1953) From When Pride Still Mattered by David Maranis
My 50th Birthday Party
When my wife, Sandra, turned 50, she decided to do something dramatic to commemorate the event. She decided she would climb Half Dome at Yosemite. A year or so later, I became 50 and wanted to do something less demanding, so we celebrated by having a party.
We invited people from all of our various lives: her job, my job, coaching, church, etc. Because so many people at the party wouldn't know one another, I created an "ice-breaker" exercise: a quiz with an interesting fact about each person. During the first hour of the party, everyone would try to find out which fact went with which person.
My mother, Marjorie, was visiting us from North Dakota. While I was putting together the quiz, she hovered behind me reading the clues. When I got to "This person danced with my mother in a strange place," she couldn't contain herself."Who could that be?" she wondered. I offered that she'd just have to wait and see who showed up!
This was a particularly mystifying question to my mother because she hadn't gone dancing for a long time. My step-father, Orville, had died the previous year, and he had been ill for some time before that, so my mother's opportunities to dance were few and far between in recent years. And whoever this person was, she must have been wondering if he traveled from North Dakota to California for my 50th birthday party.
A few weeks earlier, my mother and I attended a high school basketball game coached by my friend, Ron Rossi. Marj and Ron's wife, Amy, sat together and had a great time talking. One of their topics of conversation was how much they liked to dance and how little chance they got to do it.
After the game, the three of us waited to go out to dinner while Ron talked to his team in the locker room. The next thing I knew, Amy and Marj were doing the jitterbug on the basketball court.
But now, several weeks later, Marjorie had forgotten this. I was sure that she would remember as soon as Ron and Amy came to the door. Because my mother didn't know most of the people at the party, she lit up when Amy and Ron arrived. It didn't take Amy and Marj long to relive their dancing experience on the basketball court.
Halfway through the party, it was time to identify which person went with which clue, and my mother still hadn't filled in her sheet with the person who danced with her in a strange place. How could this be? How could she not know the answer when this person was literally sitting in front of her? (Take a moment to see if you can answer this question before reading any further.)
The answer is that my mother worked from what Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline calls a "mental model" in which women dance with men. Because of her mental model, she didn't even consider that Amy might be the person in question.
The Power of Mental Models
Mental models determine how we think and how we act. They even determine what we see. An inappropriate mental model could cause my mother to be unable to see what was staring her in the face.
As I started developing the ideas that became the foundation of Positive Coaching Alliance, I became convinced that training alone was not enough to transform the culture of youth sports. Just as my mother was blinded by her model of malefemale relationships, a mental model of coaching that considers winning on the scoreboard to be the only goal blinds many well-meaning individuals to the incredible opportunities to use sports to build character and teach life lessons to young athletes.
A Positive Coach might recognize that a tough defeat is a teachable moment in which a lesson can be taught that simply can't be communicated after a win. A coach who thinks only about winning, on the other hand, will often totally miss the teaching opportunity because the only thing that really matters is the scoreboard.
The greatest training in the world will fall on deaf ears if youth coaches are operating out of the wrong mental model. And for the most part, they have been, which brings us to the villain.
The opposite of Positive Coaching is not, as you might expect, negative coaching. Rather it is "win-at-all-cost" coaching, an unrelenting focus on winning without regard for the athletes or the game.
Competition and trying to win are not the villains in youth sports. The enemy, the source of negativity and virtually all problems in youth sports (and I realize this is a sweeping claim), is the win-at-all-cost mentality.
I remember the shock I felt when I first attended my son's games when he was 7. I was stunned at the unhappiness I saw: kids crying, parents yelling at officials, coaches berating players. I understand that my memories of the "Golden Sandlot Days" of youth sports may not be entirely accurate, but there is no question that things have deteriorated in youth sports. Consider the following:
- Officiating a youth sports game is becoming an increasingly risky job. Youth sports officials are under attack - literally. According to the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), 150 assaults on officials were recorded in 2001 - up 400 percent from the 30 that were recorded 5 years earlier.
- NASO also reports that 76 percent of the 60 high school athletic associations surveyed said that many officials are quitting because of increased spectator interference.
Excerpted from The Double-Goal Coach by Jim Thompson
Copyright © 2003 by Jim Thompson
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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