Athletic sports can be challenging. While it can be tough to master the skills of the game, it’s the challenging aspect of playing that provides lifelong benefits. However, there is a trend in today’s culture that it’s okay to quit things that present a difficult challenge.

Today there are estimates indicating that nearly 80 percent of young athletes will quit playing competitive sports after they reach middle school age. Two of the primary reasons is that they are afraid of making mistakes, or they feel disrespected. One of the ways to combat these two feelings that drive kids away from sports is through positive coaching techniques.

The Positive Coaching Alliance, PCA, has developed a model for coaches to follow, a methodology for coaching kids, which will help alter these negative trends. Since Stanford Business School professor Jim Thompson launched it in 1998, The PCA has trained nearly a half a million adult coaches. They concentrate on an ideology that a positive influence not only builds better athletes, it builds better people.

The message is to use sports to establish a place to build strong character. This means parents need to step away from being overly involved and let the coaching staff work to instill a positive sense of self-worth in their kids. Parents often harass officials, try to force their kids to copy professional athletes or prod their children to over-perform to fulfill their own expectations.

The PCA frowns upon the idea that parents should force their kids to be active participants in team sports. Through the exercise of a positive culture, a young player will inherently want to play because they want to. The agonizing idea that they have to perform at some elite level to gain their parents’ approval will be lifted. Kids will play because they love the game.

There are more than 1,700 youth sports organizations that utilize the online training opportunities conducted by the PCA. The model is based on the idea that, while winning is obviously more fun than losing, youth sports should not be so intently focused on the end result, as they are on sportsmanship and teamwork.

Since all competitive sports have a winner and loser, trying to remove the objective of winning is not realistic. However, the PCA approach works to balance winning as a goal, with teaching life lessons as an equally important end objective. The idea is to develop talented athletes, all the while teaching kids how to be good people, both on and off the playing field.
This concept doesn’t remove critical assessment of performance, but it does double up on praise-worthy accomplishments as well. Most coaches tend to coach the way they were coached themselves. The PCA is bringing a new ideology to coaching. It is a model that not only as the potential to improve athletic performance but teach kids how to perform well in life as well.