SoccerToday’s Collaboration with Positive Coaching Alliance
An Introduction to SoccerToday’s Collaboration with Positive Coaching Alliance – In 2015, Jason Pratt’s PARENTS ON THE SOCCER SIDELINES was one of SoccerToday’s most read articles. Obviously, our readers wanted more news on how to be a ‘good’ soccer parent and it was only natural that we approached Positive Coaching Alliance to help us.
“Thanks to SoccerToday’s commitment to delivering the best news, views, videos, tips and tools, we at Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) – a national non-profit committed to developing “Better Athletes, Better People” through youth and high school sports – are pleased to meet SoccerToday readers! We are excited to write for the benefit of youth and high school/club soccer coaches, parents, athletes and administrators,” said David Jacobson, Senior Marketing Communications and Content Manager, Positive Coaching Alliance
The whole premise of Positive Coaching Alliance is based on sport as the ideal educational environment. Sport is exciting, healthy, and generally fun, so children and teens are likely to engage and commit in ways quite different from, say, the classroom. Sport also offers immediate feedback and understanding of cause and effect: either you got that 50/50 ball or you didn’t … no waiting while teacher grades your paper.
And, as youth athletes consider the immediate feedback that they themselves perceive – along with soon-to-follow feedback from coaches, parents and peers – they have the opportunity to learn life lessons. The most common life lessons in sports concern resilience, teamwork, competitiveness, discipline, leadership and how to overcome fear and other adversity. Youth who learn those lessons can use them to succeed in sports, and more importantly in the rest of their lives as family members, students, employees, employers and members of a community.
However, all these life lessons do not happen in a vacuum. It takes school/club/organizational administrators, who are committed to making youth sports a Development ZoneTM, where the sole purpose is to help youth develop into Better Athletes, Better People. Such “Single-Goal Leaders” – laser-focused on the single goal of developing youth – see the Big Picture of what sports can offer and help coaches and parents seize the endless procession of teachable moments available through sports. In addition to the Single-Goal Leader, PCA espouses these models:
• The Double-Goal Coach®, whose goals are winning, and more importantly teaching life lessons through sports;
• The Second-Goal Parent®, who lets coaches and athletes pursue the wins, while the parent emphasizes life lessons and provides the child unconditional love and support, regardless of athletic performance; and
• The Triple-Impact Competitor®, an athlete who impacts sport on three levels by improving oneself, teammates and the sport as a whole.
Coaching and Parenting Principles
PCA cultivates these models primarily through live, group workshops for coaches, parents, student-athletes and administrators, as well as books, online courses and other e-communications tools that reinforce the training. The curriculum comprises research from sports and educational psychology, as well as practical advice from top coaches and athletes at all levels of sport.
Advice from many — including World Cup and pro and college soccer players and coaches on PCA’s National Advisory Board — appears in videos as part of the 1,000-plus free resources within PCADevZone.org. Their advice and practice is consolidated into three major PCA Principles.
• Using the ELM Tree of Mastery to Redefine “Winner”
• Filling Emotional Tanks
• Honoring the Game
ELM Tree of Mastery
Youth and high school sports coaches should stress to players the acronym “ELM” for Effort, Learning and Mistakes. As long as players give their best Effort, continuously Learn (both sports skills and life lessons) and realize that Mistakes are OK (so they can get over their mistakes and prepare for the next moment), then they are climbing the ELM Tree of Mastery. They are in the process of mastering their sports, which will help them succeed in sports and in life regardless of scoreboards.
Competitive results in a given athletic event are outside of athletes’ control, subject to disparate talent levels, officiating, and just plain old bad breaks.
Pressuring athletes to control what they can’t leads to increased anxiety, which leads to mistakes, or worse, fear of mistakes, which can prevent athletes from giving their best, leading to poor performance.
A focus on mastery tends to result in a looser, more aware athlete, willing to compete more aggressively, which means a better chance at great outcomes. Even when failing to outscore their opponents, athletes and teams can feel pride in their effort and continued improvement, which will serve them well throughout their lives beyond sport.
Filling Emotional Tanks
Each person has an “Emotional Tank” equivalent to the gas tank of a car. When the tank is empty, we go nowhere. When the tank is full, we can go a great distance.
Emotional Tank Fillers include praise, applause and affirmative body language. Tank Drainers include criticism, scowling and back-turning. However, coaches would disserve their athletes by never criticizing or correcting.
Research shows that a ratio of five specific, truthful praises for each specific, constructive criticism will keep a person’s Emotional Tank full, while also keeping the athlete attuned, uplifted and open enough to accept the coach’s correction. Of course, the completed correction itself leads to improvement, strengthening the athlete’s confidence – and confidence in the coach – so that further correction is internalized in a virtuous cycle.
Honoring the Game
Victory without honor is not victory.
A positive, character-building sports experience entails organizational leaders, coaches, parents and athletes respecting the ROOTS of Honoring the Game, an acronym for Rules, Opponents, Officials Teammates and Self.
Future PCA contributions to SoccerToday will address specifics within each of these principles and provide commentary on relevant issues occurring at any level of sport. Feel free to click here and drop us a line with any questions or suggestions of what we can contribute.
This article was written by David Jacobson, Senior Marketing Communications and Content Manager for Positive Coaching Alliance.
Positive Coaching Alliance is SoccerToday’s newest columnist. This first article explains PCA’s unique terms for each of those groups, who ultimately must work together to create an environment where youth soccer players improve their athletic performance while also learning life lessons and developing positive character traits through sports.