HONOR THE GAME
Code of Conduct can be found on the documents page of our website
Our organization is committed to the principles of Positive Coaching Alliance and against a “win-at-all-cost” mentality. PCA calls a Positive Coach a “Double-Goal Coach®.” A win-at-all-cost coach has only one goal – to win. A Positive Coach shares that goal (wants to win) but has a second goal that is even more important – to use the sports experience to help young people learn “life lessons” and positive character traits that will help them be successful throughout their lives. Help us promote the three PCA principles which have the power to “transform youth sports so that sports can transform youth.” The three principles, explained in this letter, are:
1 Redefining “Winner,”
2 Filling the Emotional Tank, and
3 Honoring the Game.
In professional sports (which is entertainment), there is only one goal – to have the most points at the end of a contest. However, in youth sports (which is education), there is a second goal: to produce young people who will be winners in life. To help our children get the most out of competitive sports, we need to redefine what it means to be a “winner.” Winners are people who:
• Make maximum effort.
• Continue to learn and improve.
• Refuse to let mistakes (or fear of making mistakes) stop them.
This is called a Mastery Orientation. PCA says that the Tree of Mastery is an ELM Tree where ELM stands for Effort, Learning, and rebounding from Mistakes. If our athletes keep these things in mind, they will develop habits that will serve them well throughout their lives. There is an added benefit. Athletes who are coached with a Mastery Orientation tend to have reduced anxiety and increased self-confidence.
And when athletes feel less anxiety, they are more likely to have fun playing their sport and to do better!
Here’s how you can help:
1. Tell your child that it’s OK to make a mistake.
2. Let your child know you appreciate it when he tries hard even if unsuccessful.
3. Ask rather than tell. Try to get your child to talk about her play rather than telling her what you think about it. Ask open-ended questions to get her to talk (e.g., “What was the best part of the game for you?”)
4. Recognize that Mastery is hard work. Let the coaches criticize your child’s play. Tell your child you are proud of him regardless of the outcome of the game.
FILLING THE EMOTIONAL TANK
Research shows that the home team wins about 60% of the time because of the emotional support a team receives when it plays in front of its own fans. Like gas tanks in cars, athletes have “Emotional Tanks” that need to be filled to do their best. There will be times when you need to correct and criticize.
Research has shown that a“Magic Ratio” of 5:1 (praise to criticism) is ideal.
Help us achieve this Magic Ratio with your child.
Here’s how you can help:
1 Your #1 job is to fill your child’s Emotional Tank. Encourage him regardless of what happens in the game.
2 Try not to give your child a lot of advice (which after a tough game can seem like criticism, which drains a person’s tank) Remember, it’s difficult to do well with a low tank. When she makes a mistake, you might say, “Don’t worry. Let’s get the next one. You can do it.” After tough losses, it’s often helpful to acknowledge feelings of disappointment. For example, you might say “I can imagine you must be disappointed to have lost.”
HONORING THE GAME
Honoring the Game gets to the ROOTS of positive play, where ROOTS stands for
• Rules: We don’t bend the rules to win.
• Opponents: A worthy opponent is a gift that forces us to play to our highest potential.
• Officials: We treat officials with respect even when we disagree.
• Teammates: We never do anything that would embarrass our team on or off the field.
• Self: We live up to our own standards regardless of what others do.
Use the “3-Pluses-and-a-Wish” technique.
Before you give advice, find three good things about your child’s performance. Phrase the advice as a wish:
• You really tried hard in the game today (Plus #1).
• I also saw you filling your teammate’s Emotional Tank after he made a mistake (Plus#2).
• And that play you made toward the end of the game shows how much you are improving (Plus #3).
• I wish you wouldn’t get down on yourself when you make a mistake.
If you can’t come up with three pluses, don’t say the wish because then it may drain his emotional tank rather than fill it
Remember the Magic Ratio*. Praise your child about 5 times for every time you criticize. If you do, she will be better able to hear your criticism without becoming defensive. * It’s called the Magic Ratio because great things happen when we get close to it with our children.
Here’s how you can help:
1 Let your child know that you want him to Honor The Game. Discuss the meaning of each element of ROOTS with your athletes.
2 Be a good role model. Honor the Game when you attend games. Cheer both teams when good plays are made. If, in your opinion, an officiating mistake is made, be silent! Use this as an opportunity to think about how difficult it is to officiate a game perfectly.
3 Encourage other parents to Honor the Game.
What We Expect of You
You are the most important person in our organization. You determine the kind of experience our athletes have
with sports. We are committed to the principles of Positive Coaching. We expect our coaches to be “Double-
Goal Coaches” who want to win and help players learn “life lessons” and positive character traits from sports.
The following is what we expect from you during the coming the season.
• Teach players the ELM Tree of Mastery (Effort, Learning, and bouncing back from Mistakes).
• Use a “Team Mistake Ritual” (like “Flushing Mistakes”) to help players quickly rebound from mistakes.
• Reward effort, not just good outcomes. Look to recognize players for unsuccessful effort.
• Encourage players to set “Effort Goals” that are tied to how hard they try.
• Use Targeted Symbolic Rewards to reinforce effort and team play.
• Use encouragement and positive reinforcement as your primary method of motivating.
• Strive to achieve the 5:1 “Magic Ratio” of 5 positive reinforcements to eachcriticism/correction.
• Schedule “fun activities” for practices, so players will enjoy their sport.
• Use the “Buddy System” to teach players to fill each other’s Emotional Tanks.
• Use Player of the Day and Behavior Management Strategies to resource desirable behavior and win
cooperation from your players.
• Learn to give “Kid-Friendly Criticism” so players will be able to hear it. Criticize in private, “Ask Permission,” use the Criticism Sandwich, avoid giving criticism in non-teachable moments
• Review Honoring the Game, the ELM Tree and the Emotional Tank throughout the season.
• Remind players about these three concepts before and after every game.
• Ask questions and encourage players to speak and contribute during team meetings.
At the end of the season we will survey your players and their parents to give you feedback on how you did at implementing these Positive Coaching principles during the season. We will share the results with you. Thank you for all your time and effort!
• Clear communication. Open, honest and direct communication is the cornerstone of any relationship and is a critical ingredient to the coach-athlete partnership. Coaches: Remember to strike a balance between praise and constructive criticism, focusing on being both specific and truthful in both instances. Use tools like Criticism Sandwiches and The Magic Ratio to help you master this balance. Athletes: Talk to your coach first before ‘talking out of school’ with teammates or asking your parents to intervene. Make an appointment to speak to your coach in private, stay calm, and take a non-confrontational approach. Outline the issue but also be a part of coming up with the solution.
• Share goals. When coaches and athletes are on the same page about what their goals are, success emerges both in the game and at practice as well as at home and in school. Having shared goals starts by hearing from each side what they hope to accomplish, and then making a plan together that aims to meet those goals. Do you know what your athletes’ goals are for their sport? For their season? Here are some goal-setting conversation starters. When we’re all working towards the same thing, a natural teamwork emerges.
• Honoring The Game. Both coaches and athletes have a responsibility to Honor The Game – it isn’t just a one-way equation. Coaches: If you’re asking your players to honor their opponents, do the same with the opposing coach. Revisit the Coaches Code for Honoring The Game. Lead by example. Athletes, if you want coaches and teammates to stay calm on the sidelines and not embarrass you with their antics, you too need to show self-control and discipline on the field.
• Dual commitment to learning. Coach-athlete partnerships work best when both parties are committed to mutual learning and improvement. As a coach, if you have an athlete who arrives at the beginning of the season saying ‘I have nothing more to learn,’ you’d be frustrated. But put the shoe on the other foot – if athletes feel like their coaches aren’t learning and growing but just ‘plugging them into a formula’, they lose faith in the partnership. Make a commitment on both sides that we all have things to learn and that the experience of sport is about the learnings.
• Fill each other’s emotional tanks. No one knows how hard you’ve worked or how much you have learned or how much you have overcome as much as your teammates. They’ve been there through the ups and downs – both big and small. And because they know so much, they are in a perfect spot to recognize and celebrate accomplishments and fill each others’ emotional tanks. Responsible Coaches actively work to fill athletes’ emotional tanks – now athletes, it’s your turn. Your coaches are working hard too. Recognize and celebrate that and fill their Tanks too! (Try having both of you do Positive Charting at practice – and see what each side notices!)
• Recognize that it’s not easy. Coaching is not an easy job. Especially for new coaches or recently promoted head coaches. Athletes: have some empathy. It might look easy, but trust us, it’s much harder than it looks. The same goes for Coaches: your athletes are working hard and sometimes new skills, game plans and strategies don’t come easy. Respect the effort.
• Make a commitment to being positive and professional. When both the coach and the athlete pledge to focus their energy and efforts on things that are positive (rather than negative or destructive), true teamwork emerges.
When both coach and athlete build, nurture and enhance a partnership based on mutual respect, honesty, empathy, support and cooperation, success both on and off the field follows. And beyond the scoreboard, a lasting relationship emerges that is oftentimes cited by professional and amateur athletes alike as one of the most important relationships of their lives. Having a long-term positive impact in each other’s lives is the very essence of what it means to practice Responsible Sports.
What do you think are some of the essential ingredients for a good coach-athlete partnership? We’d like to hear from both coaches and athletes who are taking steps to improve and strengthen their relationship. Parents – have you witnessed exceptional coach-athlete partnerships? Tell us about it and why you think it works! Join us on Facebook and share your thoughts, examples and ideas. Let’s together expand this list and provide a resource for all coaches and athletes looking to create that special bond that lasts a lifetime.
Best Practice #3 – Kids Are Not Little Adults
Article by Dr. Richard D. Ginsburg, Ph.D., Co-Director, MGH Sports Psychology Program and Paces Institute and Paige Perriello, M.D., F.A.A.P., Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville.
Lacrosse is a beautiful sport with a sacred soul that dates back several centuries. Yet as the sport's popularity continues to grow, it faces significant challenges to its tradition and identity. More competition at an early age is being emphasized, without any substantial evidence to support such an approach. Contrary to popular belief, there is no solid evidence that early specialization, or specialization in the sport of lacrosse, leads to greater expertise. The 10,000 hour rule of deliberate practice, generated by Ericcson and colleagues in 1993, has become the accepted norm; in order to be great, you have to practice all the time. Yet, there have been very few studies to substantiate these claims in any sports, particularly in team sports. In fact, the 10,000 hour rule is coming under increasing criticism, noting that it may not be the amount of training but more the quality of training that leads to expertise.
US Lacrosse's objective is to encourage a passionate yet balanced approach to the game of lacrosse that celebrates the game's heritage as young athletes passionately pursue fun and excellence. We want our youth to enjoy the game so that they continue to participate, sustain and pass along the great traditions that lacrosse has fostered for generations.
0-6: Getting started:
For those youth who may be curious about the game of lacrosse as they watch their old brothers and sisters play, it can be appropriate, but not necessary, to expose them to the game. Learning the basics of throwing and scooping with soft sticks and balls, if offered in a fun, safe and informal manner, can be a nice way of introducing lacrosse to children. Most children will be more interested in playing fun games than they are in skill development, so having a fun catch in the backyard is a great place to start. And while there are organized sport opportunities in lacrosse for 5 and 6 year-old children, it is critical that such structures are fun-based and without contact or structured competition. Reasons for this approach include the following about young kids:
Auditory and visual capacities are in the early stages of development. Depth perception, static vision, and auditory discrimination skills are not mature. Gross motor skills are developing and fine motor skills are just developing. Cognitively, they understand very little about the principles and rules of games or how to be a member of a team. These are some of the many physiological limitations of this age group, all of which inform us to have very limited expectations and demands.
While young kids may keep score when playing informal games, our job as adults is to focus on making it fun and safe for them while they learn a little about the game. The objective in this age group is to make the game so enjoyable that the kids want to play again the next season. If we can do this, we are doing our jobs.
7-12: Elementary School Years:
As visual, auditory and cognitive abilities develop in elementary school children, they are able to learn more about the rules of the game and the proper techniques of catching and throwing as they develop a growing awareness about being part of a team. Because auditory and visual abilities are still developing, even for the 12-year-old, elementary school athletes will still struggle to see the ball, the field, as well as easily follow complex directions.
Good rules to follow are to keep drills short and simple. Give instructions in short, positive statements, and avoid overloading kids with too much information. Their working memory is quite limited. They may be able to recall only 2-3 items at a time, whereas adolescents and adults may recall up to two or three times as much information.
There is a natural fearlessness in most children during these years, and it is our job as adults to protect that willingness to experiment and try new things so that they develop their skills. Yes, they care about the score, but not for long after the game is over. Early emphasis on outcomes and participation in highly competitive teams can be a risk factor for burnout, injury and stress as has been indicated by many pediatric and sports medicine experts.
An important function of adults (parents and coaches) working with elementary school kids is to teach them the skills and principles of the game so that their fundamentals will be strong as they progress to the next stages of development. Highly competitive, tough athletes with poorly developed skills may be at a disadvantage as they play high school sports because their fundamentals are flawed.
While youth lacrosse games for older elementary school kids can be competitive, it is our role as adults to not get caught up in the score and consider how we are preparing these young players to understand how to play the game.
Equal playing time gives all players the opportunity to be a part of the team and learn the game. Playing only the "best" players may contribute to dissatisfied teams and individuals and in fact may ignore potentially talented players. Most important, our goal is to keep all of our kids, regardless of ability, engaged and enjoying the game. It's too early to tell who "all" of the best players are, and it undermines the joys of youth sports to be favoring players. These kids want to play and they want to be with their friends.
The intrinsic joy of playing the game is the fuel that will keep kids engaged in the sport, whether they become collegiate or recreational players.
Significant physical growth occurs during adolescence, and it is not always easy to predict when an athlete has reached his or her adult height and body composition. That said, adolescents will be able to better understand their strengths and weaknesses and are fully aware of what it means to be part of a team as well as be able to accurately view their own abilities and the abilities of others.
They also may be prone to more anxiety as their capacity to think abstractly is more fully developed. Winning and losing may mean more to them and contribute to how they perceive themselves in their peer groups as well as how they form a sense of their identity.
While these athletes may begin to look and talk like adults, they are still not fully adult. For example, their visual capacities are still developing. Some researchers indicate that peripheral vision can still improve functionally well into the teen years. This has obvious implications for field awareness, which should be considered by their coaches as they evaluate players and construct drills.
The frontal lobes of the adolescent brain, which affect organization, planning, sequencing and impulse control, are still developing. So, once again, focusing on keeping drills clear, time-limited and concise are critical. Instructions should still be clear and easy to follow, even if the capacity to handle more information exists in adolescents.
While the attention span of this age group is greater than elementary school athletes, it is still important to keep practices concise and active. Practices that extend beyond two hours often lose the attention of most adolescents as well as expose them to fatigue and injury as well as burnout.
The challenge for adults working with adolescents is to recognize their growing abilities while keeping an eye out for the areas that are still maturing. These athletes still need much support and guidance and may not be ready for the prime time adult pressure that they will experience as college students and beyond. Playing time at this age, particularly at the high school levels, may now be based more on ability. A critical challenge for coaches at this stage is to create roles so that all team members feel valued, even if their playing time is limited.
And an important recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts is that athletes need to take time off each week (1-2 days) and 2-3 months per year to avoid burnout and injury. As parents, it is our job to serve as the gatekeepers on training levels as commitments to various teams can become overwhelming.
US Lacrosse, Inc. ©2011
Parent 's Guidelines for Honoring the Game
Honoring the Game gets to the ROOTS of the matter and involves respect for the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and one's Self. You don't bend the rules to win. You understand that a worthy opponent is a gift that forces you to play to your highest potential. You show respect for officials even when you disagree. You refuse to do anything that embarrasses your team. You live up to your own standards even if others don't. Here are ways that parents can create a positive youth sports culture so that children will have fun and learn positive character traits to last a lifetime.
Before the Game:
Make a commitment to Honor the Game in action and language no matter what others may do.
Tell your child before each game that you are proud of him or her regardless of how well he or she plays.
During the Game:
Fill your children's "Emotional Tank" through praise and positive recognition so they can play their very best.
Don't give instructions to your child during the game. Let the coach correct player mistakes.
Cheer good plays by both teams (this is advanced behavior!)
Mention good calls by the official to other parents.
If an official makes a "bad" call against your team? Honor the Game—BE SILENT!
If another parent on your team yells at an official? Gently remind him or her to Honor the Game.
Don't do anything in the heat of the moment that you will regret after the game. Ask yourself, "Will this embarrass my child or the team?"
Remember to have fun! Enjoy the game.
After the Game:
Thank the officials for doing a difficult job for little or no pay.
Thank the coaches for their commitment and effort.
Don't give advice. Instead ask your child what he or she thought about the game and then LISTEN. Listening fills Emotional Tanks.
Tell your child again that you are proud of him or her, whether the team won or lost.
I will get my child to practice and games on time and will be on time picking my child up after games and practices.
I will engage in No-Directions Cheering. I will limit my comments during the game to encouraging my child and other players (from both teams).
I will use a self-control routine to avoid losing my composure when things go wrong. I will take a deep breath, turn away from the game to refocus, count backwards from 100 or use self-talk (“I need to be a role model. I can rise above this.”).
I will set an example for my child by Honoring the Game and will encourage him/her to remember ROOTS—respect for the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self. If the official makes a "bad" call against my team, I will Honor the Game and be silent!
I will reinforce the ELM Tree of Mastery with my child (E for Effort, L for Learning, M for bouncing back from Mistakes). Because I understand a mastery approach will help my child be successful in sports and in life.
I will encourage my child to
put in a high level of effort to get better,
cultivate a Teachable Spirit to continue to learn and improve,
use a Mistake Ritual (e.g., “flushing mistakes”) to quickly rebound from mistakes.
I will use positive encouragement to fill the Emotional Tanks of my children, their teammates, and coaches. I understand that people do their best with full E-Tanks.
I will refrain from making negative comments about my child's coach in my child's presence.
I understand that this will help to avoid planting negative seeds in my child's head that can negatively influence my child's motivation and overall experience.
Accordingly, I pledge to:
Demonstrate respect to other players, coaches, parents, officials and spectators
Demonstrate and encourage good sportsmanship and the concepts of fair play
Know and abide by the Rules of Lacrosse, the established guidelines, and all eligibility requirements
Understand that the safety and welfare of all concerned is the top priority
Support the drug, alcohol, and tobacco free environment that is important for all youth sporting events
Further, I pledge NOT to:
Ever use profanity at a youth event;
Criticize coaches, players or game officials;
Harass or attempt to intimidate another parent, coach or official
As a Second-Goal Parent I will let players and coaches take responsibility for the first goal of
winning. I will relentlessly focus on the second, more important, goal of using sports to teach life
lessons to my child and other youth.
Research is clear that when parents and teachers work together a child tends to do better in school. There is no reason to think that it is any different in youth sports. The following are some guidelines for how parents can contribute to a Coach/Parent Partnership that can help the athlete have the best possible experience.
Recognize the Commitment the Coach Has Made: For whatever reason, you have chosen not to help coach the team. The coach has made a commitment that involves many, many hours of preparation beyond the hours spent at practices and games. Recognize his commitment and the fact that he is not doing it because of the pay! Try to remember this whenever something goes awry during the season.
Make Early, Positive Contact with the Coach: As soon as you know who your child"s coach is going to be, contact her to introduce yourself and let her know you want to help your child have the best experience she can have this season. To the extent that you can do so, ask if there is any way you can help. By getting to know the coach early and establishing a positive relationship, it will be much easier to talk with her later if a problem arises.
Fill the Coach's Emotional Tank: When the coach is doing something you like, let him know about it. Coaching is a difficult job and most coaches only hear from parents when they want to complain about something. This will help fill the coach"s emotional tank and contribute to his doing a better job. It also makes it easier to raise problems later when you have shown support for the good things he is doing. And just about every coach does a lot of things well. Take the time to look for them.
Don't Put the Player in the Middle: Imagine a situation around the dinner table, in which a child"s parents complain in front of her about how poorly her math teacher is teaching fractions. How would this impact this student"s motivation to work hard to learn fractions? How would it affect her love of mathematics? While this may seem farfetched, when we move away from school to youth sports, it is all too common for parents to share their disapproval of a coach with their children. This puts a young athlete in a bind. Divided loyalties do not make it easy for a child to do her best. Conversely, when parents support a coach, it is that much easier for the child to put her wholehearted effort into learning to play well. If you think your child"s coach is not handling a situation well, do not tell that to the player. Rather, seek a meeting with the coach in which you can talk with her about it.
Don't Give Instructions During a Game or Practice: You are not one of the coaches, so do not give your child instructions about how to play. It can be very confusing for a child to hear someone other than the coach yelling out instructions during a game. As in #4 above, if you have an idea for a tactic, go to the coach and offer it to him. Then let him decide whether he is going to use it or not. If he decides not to use it, let it be. Getting to decide those things is one of the privileges he has earned by making the commitment to coach.
Fill Your Child's Emotional Tank: Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to be there for your child. Competitive sports are stressful to players and the last thing they need is a critic at home. Be a cheerleader for your child. Focus on the positive things she is doing and leave the correcting of mistakes to the coach. Let her know you support her without reservation regardless of how well she plays.
Fill the Emotional Tanks of the Entire Team: Cheer for all of the players on the team. Tell each of them when you see them doing something well.
Encourage Other Parents to Honor the Game: Don"t show disrespect for the other team or the officials. But more than that, encourage other parents to also Honor the Game. If a parent of a player on your team begins to berate the official, gently say to them, "Hey, that"s not Honoring the Game. That"s not the way we do things here."
Note: These guidelines are adapted from Positive Coaching: Building Character and Self-Esteem Through Sports by Jim Thompson, the founder and leader of the Positive Coaching Alliance.
Empowering Conversations with Your Child
When we think about what makes people friends with each other, a number of things come to mind. For example, our friends like us and enjoy spending time with us, as we enjoy them. And what is it we mostly do when we are together with our friends? Mostly we talk and listen to each other.
Conversations are the glue between people, the essential element in a strong relationship. Relationships wither without communication, and the very best form of communication is the conversation. Many parents fall into the trap of thinking that it is their job to talk and their child's to listen. Actually that's only half-right. It is also our job to listen and the child's job to talk. It's a wonderful thing when a parent and child can really talk to and hear each other.
It is important that parents intentionally seek out conversations about sports with their athletes. Here are some suggestions for how to engage your child in a conversation about sports.
Establish Your Goal—A Conversation Among Equals: A conversation is something between equals. Kings didn't have conversations with their subjects. They told them what to do. Prepare yourself for a conversation with your child by reminding yourself that sports is her thing, not yours. Remember that you want to support her, to let her know that you are on her side. Your goal is not to give advice on how to become a better athlete. It should be to engage your child in a conversation among equals, one of whom (you!) is on the side of the other (her!).
Adopt a Tell-Me-More Attitude: Brenda Ueland penned one of the most important essays on relationships ever written, Tell Me More: "When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life."
Adopt the attitude that you want your child to tell-you-more ("I really want to hear what you have to say."), and then listen to what he has to say—even if you don't agree with it or like it—and you will begin to tap into what Ueland calls the "little creative fountain" in your child.
"If you are very tired, strained…this little fountain is muddied over and covered with a lot of debris…it is when people really listen to us, with quiet fascinated attention, that the little fountain begins to work again, to accelerate in the most surprising way."
Think of your conversation with your child as an Olympic event with judges. A conversation that rates a 9 or a 10 is one in which the child does more talking and the parent more listening. Set your goal before you start, and go for it.
Listen! In many instances you may know exactly what your child can do to improve. However, this is a conversation, remember? Your goal is to get your child to talk about her sports experience, so ask rather than tell. Save your tellings for another time.
Use Open-Ended Questions:Some questions lend themselves to one-word responses. "How was school today?" "Fine." Your goal is to get your child to talk at length, so ask questions that will tend to elicit longer, more thoughtful responses.
"What was the most enjoyable part of today's practice/game?"
"What worked well?"
"What didn't turn out so well?"
"What did you learn that can help you in the future?"
"Any thoughts on what you'd like to work on before the next game?"
Also ask about life-lesson and character issues: "Any thoughts on what you've learned in practice this week that might help you with other parts of your life?" Even if you saw the entire game, the goal is to get your child to talk about the game the way she saw it, not for you to tell her what she could have done better.
Show You Are Listening. Make it obvious to your child that you are paying attention through use of nonverbal actions such as making eye contact as he talks, nodding your head and making "listening noises" ("uh-huh," "hmmm," "interesting," etc.).
Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child! Ueland again:
"Who are the people, for example, to whom you go for advice? Not to the hard, practical ones who can tell you exactly what to do, but to the listeners; that is, the kindest, least censorious, least bossy people that you know. It is because by pouring out your problem to them, you then know what to do about it yourself."
Let Your Child Set the Terms: William Pollack, MD, author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, notes that children have different "emotional schedules" that determine when they are ready to talk about an experience. Forcing a conversation right after a competition (when there may be a lot of emotion) is often less successful than waiting until the child gives an indication that he is ready to talk. Boys may take longer than girls to talk about an experience, so look for prompts that a child is ready. And conversations don't have to be lengthy to be effective. If your child wants a brief discussion, defer to his wishes. If he feels like every discussion about sports is going to be long, he'll likely begin to avoid them. And don't be afraid of silence. Stick with it and your child will open up to you.
Connect through activity. Sometimes the best way to spark a conversation is through an activity that your child enjoys. Playing a board game or putting a puzzle together can allow space for a child to volunteer thoughts and feelings about the game and how he performed. This is especially important for boys, who often resist a direct adult-style of conversation.
Enjoy: The most important reason why you should listen to your child with a tell-me-more attitude: Because then she will want to talk to you, and as she (and you) get older, you will find there is no greater gift than a child who enjoys conversations with you.
Role of the Culture Keeper
Many PCA partner organizations and coaches appoint official “Culture Keepers” to help reinforce Honoring the Game as a paramount value in their organizations and teams. However, any parent can serve as an unofficial Culture Keeper. This document describes the role of a Culture Keeper. A Culture Keeper helps shape the culture of a youth sports team and/or organization. Culture is simply “the way we do things here.” The bedrock of a positive youth sports culture is Honoring the Game. A Positive Youth Sports Culture involves not only the coaches and athletes, but also parents and fans. That’s where you come in. The Culture Keeper’s job is to spread the word about Positive Coaching to parents and fans on the sidelines.
Become familiar with the three principles of Positive Coaching (Honoring the Game, Redefining Winner, and Filling the Emotional Tank).
Read PCA material, check out the PCA web site (www.positivecoach.org) for more information.
Ask the coach about anything you don’t understand. In particular, memorize the elements of Honoring the Game (ROOTS) which include respect for Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates & Self
Get to know other parents on the team at the beginning of the season. Talk with them about your role early on and ask for their support on the sidelines during games.
Make sure they have seen the PCA Parent Letter and ask if they have any questions about it. If they haven’t, give them a copy.
Model the Behavior You Want to See. Parents pick up on each other’s behavior. If you harp at officials, other will be more likely to do the same. If you are calm and focused, it will be easier for them to act like you.
As the season progresses, continue to keep the idea of Honoring the Game alive with all the parents.
Welcome new families to the program and let them know up front “How we do things here.”
Provide pre-game talks to the fans on the sidelines. Remind everyone to “Honor the Game”, support all the athletes and to have FUN!
Be visible on the sidelines. Wear an “Honor the game” button to games and carry Honoring the Game cards and stickers with you to give to parents (Available from PCA’s on-line store at www.positivecoach.org or call toll free 866-725-0024)
Take the lead and demonstrate to others how to Honor the Game. Acknowledge those participants “doing it right.” People tend to do what gets rewarded – so thank those who Honor the Game.
TO VOLUNTEER AS CULTURE KEEPER visit the forms page of our website and complete the HOW CAN I HELP form!~