Discipline and Philosophy >> Accentuating the Positive
for Young Athletes
Discipline and Philosophy - Accentuating the Positive for Young
by: Michelle Smith
Monday, March 6, 2000
©2000 San Francisco Examiner
compliment rather than criticize. To encourage with measured tones
rather than raised voices. To build up rather than tear down.
Thompson worked hard as a father and an educator to alter the
youth sports experience for his son and the other children he
has coached in two decades. Now he hopes to expand his vision
to the rest of the country.
complain about the death of sportsmanship and bad coaching," said
Thompson, the director of the Palo-Alto based Positive Coaching
Alliance. "For a long time, complaining about youth sports was
like complaining about the weather. You couldn't do much about
it. But I think we can."
is trying to see to it personally, having organized a two-day
forum for educators, psychologists and sports administrators from
around the country called, "Against the Grain: Transforming the
Culture of Youth Sports," beginning Wednesday at Stanford.
seminar will bring together "senior-level" people from such youth
organizations as the YMCA, Little League Baseball and Special
will have the major players in the world of youth sports," Thompson
speakers at the two-day forum include Los Angeles Lakers coach
Phil Jackson, new NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and Olympians
Summer Sanders, Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci.
estimated 25 million American children participate in youth sports.
Jackson belives many children's youth experiences have a great
influence on their adult life. And those experiences are influenced
by the adults who guided them. "It's easy to criticize," Jackson
said. "The Alliance advocates 5-to-1 positive comments to negative
comments. Most of the time, what people get for feedback is their
mistakes. It's a hard bargain to keep, but what if you went around
in life and did that. It would be a different world."
formed the Positive Coaching Alliance in 1998 following his own
experience as a youth sports coach for his son's teams more than
15 years ago. "It wasn't a particular event that motivated me,
but the general atmosphere," Thompson said. "I was working at
a school for emotionally disturbed kids who were abused and had
a lot of problems. I was trained that a positive approach can
bring about some pretty incredible changes. "When my son started
playing sports, I was appalled. The principles I was trained in
were being violated left and right by well-meaning parents and
coaches who were doing all the wrong things."
a director at Stanford Business School, has authored two books
on the subject of positive coaching. He has been planning Wednesday's
gathering for more than two years. The key is translating positive
coaching into successful performance on the field.
me, when I coached, I wanted to win. We are not saying we don't
care about winning," Thompson said. "We are saying that we can
link character-building with higher performance. Sometimes it's
just the right thing, but the most cases, it can help win more
games." For more information on Positive Coaching Alliance, visit
the Web site at www.positivecoach.org
or call (650) 725-2980."
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