Teachable Moments for Kids in Sports

Posted on: December 27th, 2012 by Laura No Comments

I wanted to share this article that was written for Sports Mom by Jim Thompson is founder and Executive Director of Positive Coaching Alliance.

I’ve talked to adults in their 40s and 50s that can’t remember anything that happened in the classroom
when they were in fourth or fifth grade, but they can talk with exquisite detail about something that
happened on the baseball field or basketball court. Sports has the potential to actually change the
trajectory of the kids’ lives, so I don’t think we can overstate how important sports can be…if it’s done
the right way.

We encourage parents and coaches to talk with their kids about things that happen on the field or on
TV. The good things that happen and the bad things that happen both can be teachable moments. Say
something negative happens. Well, that’s an opportunity to have a conversation with your child about it.

“What did you think about it? Was that honoring the game? Was that good sportsmanship?”

It can be an incredibly rich conversation. I can’t be all I can be without a worthy competitor to push me.
We should look at our competitors as gifts that cause us to get better.

Liberty Mutual and Positive Coaching Alliance decided last year for the first time to really highlight the
really breathtaking and inspiring moments in youth sports across the country. So, together they picked
the top 10. It’s really hard for me to pick the best, but one I really like happened it Ohio.

Meghan Vogel gave up her opportunity to win a state track meet. She ran for West Liberty Salem High
School and was one of the top runners in the state having one the 1600 meters championship earlier in
the day. Arden McMath, a competitor, was having heat problems and almost collapsed. Megan had a
chance to win, but gave it up to help Arden across the finish line.

There are examples like that at www.responsiblesports.com.

Another example is Queen Creek High School in Arizona where members of the football team realized
a young woman was being bullied, and the team adopted her. They had her sit with them at lunch and
protected her from being bullied. Bullying is a problem all across the country and athletes in high school
have the ability to get involved with an anti-bullying campaign.

When you focus on a kid’s strengths rather than his or her weaknesses, you actually get different
brainwave activity.

I liken it to a house plant. If you go away for a weekend and you don’t have anybody come in to water
your house plant, the plant will be in trouble. Kids need the equivalent of sunlight and water. That
equivalent for kids is positivity. Positive recognition is thanking them for their contributions. Relentless
positivity I can actually change the trajectory of the kids life.

Transcribed from Jim Thompson, Executive Director of Positive Coaching Alliance

About Jim Thompson:
Jim Thompson is founder and Executive Director of Positive Coaching Alliance, a non-profit formed at Stanford University with the mission to create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports so that all youth athletes have a positive, character-building experience. For more than 10 years, Jim was director of the Public and Global Management Programs at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he also taught courses in leadership and non-profit issues. US News named Stanford’s Public Management Program the top nonprofit business management program in the nation in 1992.

Jim’s available on Tuesday, December 18th from 7-11am ET, and we’d love to set something up. He can do phone interviews, or if you’d like video, we’ll have a camera onsite. We’re happy to send you embed code if you’d like to send in some questions.

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