That old saw about playing sports as good stewards of the game, regardless of the final totals on the scoreboard, has been long-held tenet for sports – specifically for youth sports. Yet the concept that “winning isn’t everything” can often get lost in the hunt for championship trophies or the creation of a child prodigy athlete.
To that end, the Positive Coaching Alliance, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping provide positive learning environments for kids through sports, has established workshops for coaches and parents of young sportsmen and women.
As part of a targeted effort to provide the most positive experience for its athletes, these six local organizations have established a three-year partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance. PCA is a Stanford University-based nonprofit organization that works with coaches, organizational leaders and parents to more effectively teach young athletes not only how to win, but also how to learn about teamwork, discipline, respect and goal-setting through sports experiences.
In Telluride, any number of sports organizations will soon be spreading the PCA message, thanks to a recent partnership formed between the Telluride Youth Soccer Club, the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club, the Lizard Head Hockey Club, the Telluride Lacrosse Club and the Telluride schools’ athletic department.
Telluride Youth Soccer Club head and Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club Executive Director Justin Chandler has spearheaded the local effort to bring the PCA message home, and reports that response to the PCA message has already been overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s about developing the long-term vision of creating great athletes, not just for the next season but for the rest of their lives,” says Chandler, who participated in a PCA workshop for coaches earlier in the summer as a part of his role at the helm of the Telluride Youth Soccer Club. He said he left the workshop enthused about PCA’s coaching method and excited about bringing its tenets home.
As Chandler explains it, there are two dimensions to the PCA method. One is to help develop winning athletes which, by PCA’s definition, is not necessarily the athletes who win the most games, but rather those who have mastered their sport the most thoroughly. The second goal is to teach life lessons, through the hard work, dedication and determination learned through sports participation – lessons that the athletes will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
“The scoreboard definition of winning is the old-school definition,” says Chandler, who has now been a coach in Telluride for nearly ten years. He explains the PCA definition of winning; “You don’t want coaches basing their praise simply on whether a team won or not – you want to use the mastery definition of winning, which means that you did your best to master your sport.”
Although “just do your best” may seem like a too-delicate phrase to base all coaching methods on, the PCA coaching method, as Chandler describes, is far from soft. “It is about sportsmanship, honoring the sport and respecting your coaches, referees, and fellow players,” he explains, “but it’s not a soft method of coaching. Athletes have to show up and try hard. It doesn’t matter what your ability is, but you need to want to get better. That takes a lot of work, from the athlete as well as the coach.”
Positive Coaching Alliance was formed in 1998 to transform youth sports so that all young athletes enjoy a positive, character-building experience. PCA offers workshops nationwide for coaches, parents and youth sports leaders to equip them to positively impact today's young athletes. Since its inception, PCA has conducted more than 1,700 research based training workshops for 68,000 coaches, parents and leaders, helping to create a positive sports environment for more than 680,000 young athletes.
It’s not just coaches for Little League and, say, youth soccer clubs who have jumped on the PCA bandwagon. “When championship coaches and athletes like Phil Jackson, Dean Smith, Summer Sanders, Barry Zito and Larry Brown support PCA and its message to kids, parents and coaches, you know the message is worth hearing,” says Chandler.
All local coaches of youth sports are strongly encouraged to attend the Telluride PCA’s upcoming workshops, scheduled for September 29 and 30. Most importantly, parents of kids involved in any level of sports are also encouraged to attend the PCA’s parent workshops. For information about the time and locations, contact Chandler at 728-6163. For more information on PCA, visit www.positivecoach.org.