In Attitude, Newsletters

In this Issue: It Takes a “TEAM” for Athletic Success

  • The Athlete’s Role
  • The Coach’s Role
  • The Parent’s Role
  • Ask Dr. G
  • Parents: Dealing with the Painful Issue of Your Child’s Playing Time
  • Dr. G’s Website

It Takes a “TEAM” for Athletic Success!

What every athlete, coach and parent needs to know about going to the next level!

For any athlete to become a champion, which to means going as far as possible in their sport, it takes a total team effort behind them. Without the appropriate support and guidance of coaches and parents, real success in sports is virtually impossible! The key here is that each member of the ATHLETE-PARENT-COACH team “play” the right role, and play it to the very best of their abilities!

When each member of the “team” plays their appropriate role, the athlete’s chances of turning their dream into a reality go way up. Unfortunately, well-meaning team members frequently get caught up in wanting to do more to “help” and so inadvertently step outside of their proper role. When this happens, their “help” backfires, sabotaging the process and inadvertently generating performance problems for the athlete.


Be coachable – Be open to learning and willing to take critical feedback. You don’t improve without making mistakes and getting feedback from the coach about what you need to work on and do differently next time.

Have your OWN goals – The sport belongs to YOU. You should practice and compete because YOU WANT TO! You should not be doing the sport to make others happy or proud of you.

Love what you’re doing – You should participate because you LOVE what you’re doing. Your sport should be FUN for YOU. You should be passionate about it!

Work hard, be committed – Success in anything comes down to how willing you are to put the time, energy and effort into your activity. There is no substitute for hard work! It is the ultimate “secret” to success.

Be a CLASS ACT – Being a real success is very much all about HOW YOU ARE as a person. You can’t define being a winner as the outcome of a competition. It’s HOW you play that really counts. Conduct yourself with dignity, HONESTY and class!

Be a good sport – Similar to above, your job on the team is to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser. This means that you want to play by the rules. When you play and win, do so fair and square. Remember, WINNERS DON’T CHEAT!!!! Also, don’t brag! Don’t gloat! Don’t let your ego control your actions. When you fail, handle that loss like a champion. Congratulate your opponent. Keep your head up! Your reputation and character are on the line!

Be a team player – The mark of a true champion is he/she makes his/her teammates better. Support your mates. Be unselfish! Do everything that you can to raise the level of their play. Remember that overworked cliché, “There’s no “I” in team!” Set your ego aside when you play and model a good team player!

Do the BEST you can – Pursue excellence in everything that you do. Don’t just go through the motions. Be fully invested in your practices and games. Even if you’re not at your best that day, do the best you can that day!

Pay attention to details – The very best athletes in the world get to be the best because, whenever they practice, they pay attention to all the important details! They focus closely on technique to make it the very best they can. It’s the little things that you do in practice that ultimately make the biggest difference in the long run.


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Walk the talk – Effective coaches model the behaviors they want to see in their athletes. Be motivated, focused and hard working and your players will follow!

Be positive – Catch your athletes doing thing right! Use positive feedback when it’s deserved! Don’t skimp here. This is how you build healthy self-esteem and confidence!

Communicate clearly – With both your athletes and their parents. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be direct. Be open and honest! When your athletes mess up, help them understand what they did wrong and specifically what they need to do to correct the problem.

Stay in control emotionally – You don’t need to yell to be a great coach. Stay even and in control of your emotions and you will get far more out of your athletes.

Demand excellence from your players – Your job is to “sell” hard work and the pursuit of excellence. Do not settle for mediocrity and instead, teach your players to “get comfortable, being uncomfortable!, to get used to regularly stepping outside of their comfort zones.”

Do NOT play head games – Be honest and open with your players. Say what you mean and mean what you say!

Be fair – Great coaches don’t play favorites! They treat everyone fairly and have one set of rules for the entire team, not a second set of abridged rules with more privileges for the favored players!

Be respectful – If you want your athletes to be successful, then you must treat them with respect and dignity. You do not demean! You do not embarrass or humiliate.

Be trustworthy – Your players need to count on and depend upon you. They need to be able to trust that what you say, you back up with your actions! Be a man/woman of your word.

Create a safe learning environment – Make it safe for your athletes to learn and take risks. Make it safe for them to excel. Set and enforce clear limits on the team so that scape-goating and negativity are NOT allowed!

Teach your players the importance of making mistakes and failing – Great coaches create an environment where athletes feel free to make mistakes and fail because they know that this is the ONLY way to learn and get better. When your players fail, help them get curious as to what they did wrong and what they need to do differently next time rather than furious with themselves!

Have fun/passion – Excellence comes from enjoying what you’re doing. Coach with passion and enthusiasm. Love what you’re doing and help your players do the same.


Be your child’s “best fan” – What your child needs most from you is SUPPORT. When things go badly they need you to be there for them emotionally. They need you to BE UNCONDITIONALLY LOVING, regardless of their performance!

Don’t coach – The biggest mistake that parents make on the team is that they want to “really” help, so they begin to coach on the side. Pregame suggestions, motivational advice or critiques, during game suggestions and hints and after game feedback on their play, mistakes, etc. is all coaching. If you want your child to go as far as possible, then you won’t coach! That’s the coach’s job, NOT yours!

Support the coach and the program – Don’t bad mouth the coach to other parents or to your kids. You want to support the coaching and the team. If you have problems with the coaching, then go directly to the coach at an appropriate time.

Support the other players on the team – Chances are good that your child is on a team. Support your child’s teammates. Cheer just as loudly for them as you do for your child.

Model appropriateness – Our kids learn from watching us and modeling our behaviors. In all of your interactions with the coach, teammates, other parents and game officials, be an adult role model that your children would be proud to emulate.

Keep the sport in perspective – Remember, you’re the adult here and you want to help your child keep their sport and this competition in perspective. The game should NEVER be larger than life. Also keep in mind that this is your son or daughter you’re dealing with here and their well being and happiness is always much more important than the outcome of an insignificant youth sport contest!

Be a good sport – Similar to above, help your child handle winning and losing with dignity, class and good sportsmanship. This all starts with how YOU handle it!

Keep your child physically and emotionally safe – While your job is NEVER to coach, it is your job to insure that your child is in good hands. If you suspect that your child is at risk of physical or emotional abuse at the hands of the coach, then you must immediately intervene to insure their safety, talking to the coach, league director or a higher up when necessary.

Don’t EVER tie your child’s lovability and self-worth with their athletic performance – Your children should never have to perform to make you happy or earn your love.You need to give them the gift of your unconditional love so that they can play their sport unburdened!

Remember that your behaviors always speak much louder than your words – It’s not simply enough for you to say the “right” things to your children. You must also match your non-verbals to your words. Telling your kids that it’s OK when they fail yet responding with anger and frustration when they do so is giving your kids the clear message that it is NOT OK to fail!



“My son is one of the better players on his baseball team. When the season started, he was at his position, short-stop and batting third. After a few games went by, he began to struggle a little up at the plate and his coach pushed him way back in the line-up to bat 8th. Then his coach started sitting him so he wasn’t even playing or sometimes moving him out to right field! My son is so upset and so am I!!! I want to say something to the coach. Advise please!”


“Although watching your child go through this kind of a situation is both frustrating and upsetting, it’s important to keep a healthy perspective here! It is always the coach’s prerogative to decide who starts, where they play and how much playing time they get. Fair or unfair, this is the coach’s job and ultimately, his/her decision. As a parent, you might want to encourage your child to chat directly with the coach, but in the following manner:

Approaching the coach at an appropriate time and asking them, “Coach, what do I need to work on to get better and help me increase the chances that I might get more playing time?” This must be done in a respectful way and one in which the athlete is sincere about improving and working harder. If your child is significantly younger, (under 12) you could ask the coach yourself! However, let me caution you here. You must be very sensitive to the fact that this is the coach’s decision and complaining to the coach that you think he/she is unfair, will not get you what you want and is actually inappropriate! Playing time decisions are very complicated and difficult for coaches. They can never be right with them because there are always kids that don’t get to play!

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are times when a coach’s playing time decisions go beyond unfair, where your child’s lack of playing time is just another symptom of an overall mistreatment. While we have to live with unfair coaches and their decisions, we don’t want to live with coaching behaviors that seem abusive. If you have an athlete who is feeling very badly about being on the team, and the coach is unresponsive and unsupportive of him/her, (not giving feedback to them, ignoring them, embarrassing them), then I would immediately find another team and a different coach for them to play for.


Parent and Coaches Guide to Winning at the Youth Sports Game

Great CD for Coaches and Parents to use at Meetings!

Parents: Learn how to help your child perform their best!


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