In Coaching: Good/Bad/Unfair, Problems in Youth Sports

Want to produce winners in the athletic arena? Want to give kids the best shot to make their sports dreams come true? Well I can tell you it’s not happening right now in our current, “winning is the most important thing,” youth sports system! Right now we define the success of an athletic team by their won-loss record.

There’s a better, far more effective way!

Andre’ Lachance is the Manager of Baseball Operations and the Head Women’s National Team Coach for Baseball Canada. He has started a revolution in training athletes which is just starting to catch on in a lot of other countries where he is asked to train coaches and players. In his “outside the box” thinking, Lachance believes that skill and athlete development are far more important than winning games, so in his baseball leagues, he has totally changed the way the game is played!

You can’t coach in his league unless you as the coach agree to this rule: During games, every coach can coach any athlete from either team! That is, if you see a player from the opposing team doing something wrong, you can stop the game and directly coach that player. In fact, Lachance wants his coaches, most who have differing specialties, to be available to all of the players in the league, not just the ones on that coach’s team. For example, if your specialty is pitching, and you see an opposing pitcher struggling or making mistakes, you are able and even expected to stop the game and directly work with that athlete!

How about that? Athlete development being more important than the ultimately meaningless, won-loss outcome of a league game.

Lachance’s system completely changes the coaches’ orientation to the game and helps them remember that their primary job is to teach and develop players and NOT to win!

This shift in perspective frees coaches up from measuring their self-worth by their team’s won-loss record. Imagine how well you can teach when your ego isn’t on the line each and every time you step on to the field?

Another related rule is that any coach can stop the game at any point, make corrections for an athlete and then get both teams to “replay” the play! That’s right! You get a “do-over” so you can actually learn how to correct that mistake!

As you can well imagine, parents and most coaches were totally up in arms when they were first exposed to Lachance’s system. They felt like he was ruining the game and sabotaging healthy competition and their child’s chance to excel. Then, they witnessed the results! Lachance’s system has gotten players learning faster and performing better! In fact, some of his “graduates” are currently playing in the BIGS!

The problem in the US is a serious one!

We are at a crisis point with competitive sports in the US! There’s a 70% drop out rate of young athletes across all sports! By the time kids hit age 13, 70% of them drop out!! If that number doesn’t tell you there’s something very wrong, then we need to check your pulse! The reason for this outrageous drop-out rate is because the adults involved have over-valued winning at the expense of skill building and athlete development. As a consequence, coaches and parents have put an inordinate amount of pressure on these young athletes to produce. This kills the kids’ learning and enjoyment of their sport, driving them away from participation! This is NOT how you build champions. There is a much better way and hopefully, in the not too distant future, we’ll wake up to it and let go of our obsessive need to falsely measure excellence by winning and losing!


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