Benicia   Arsenal   FC  2000

Positive Coaching Alliance and Our Team...

As a PCA coach, I really believe in applying the "ELM" Mastery approach, filling the players' "Emotional Tanks," and Honoring the Game using an approach similar to the "ROOTS" approach.

All parents and players on our team will need to read, understand, and sign PCA Pledges related to these approaches. You can find all of the following information on the PCA website at:

The ELM Tree of Mastery Approach

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 toLearn 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 critique your child’s play. Tell your child you are proud of him regardless of the
            outcome of the game.

Filling Players' Emotional Tanks

• Use encouragement and positive reinforcement as your primary method of motivating.
• Strive to achieve the 5:1 “Magic Ratio” of 5 positive reinforcements to each criticism/correction.
• Schedule “fun activities” for practices, so players will enjoy their sport.
• Develop “player coaches” by asking for player input and asking rather than telling them what to do.

Honor the Game

Many people talk about "sportsmanship," or what it means to be a "good sport." What does it mean to you to be a good sport? Answers to this question vary widely. Sadly, PCA has even heard stories of coaches telling their teams that if they win the Sportsmanship Award at a tournament, they will spend the entire following week conditioning! Why might a coach say this? Unfortunately, many coaches equate being a good sport with being soft or weak.

PCA believes the time has come to unite behind a powerful new term, "Honoring the Game." Coaches, parents, and athletes need to realize that an Honoring the Game perspective needs to replace the common win-at-all-cost perspective. If a coach and his or her team have to dishonor the game to win it, what is this victory really worth, and what sort of message is this sending young athletes?

If Honoring the Game is to become the youth sports standard, it needs a clear definition. At PCA we say that Honoring the Game goes to the "ROOTS" of positive play. Each letter in ROOTS stands for an important part of the game that we must respect. The R stands for Rules. The first O is for Opponents. The next O is for Officials. T is for Teammates, and the S is for Self.

R is for Rules
Rules allow us to keep the game fair. If we win by ignoring or violating the rules, what is the value of our victory? PCA believes that honoring the letter AND the spirit of the rule is important.

O is for Opponents
Without an opponent, there would be no competition. Rather than demeaning a strong opponent, we need to honor strong opponents because they challenge us to do our best. Athletes can be both fierce and friendly during the same competition (in one moment giving everything to get to a loose ball, and in the next moment helping an opponent up). Coaches showing respect for opposing coaches and players sets the tone for the rest of the team.

O is for Officials
Respecting officials, even when we disagree with their calls, may be the toughest part of Honoring the Game. We must remember that officials are not perfect (just like coaches, athletes and parents!). Take time to think about how to best approach an official when you want to discuss a call. What strategies do you have to keep yourself in control when you start to get upset with officials" calls? We must remember that the loss of officials (and finding enough in the first place) is a major problem in most youth sports organizations, and we can confront this problem by consistently respecting officials.

T is for Teammates
It"s easy for young athletes to think solely about their own performance, but we want athletes to realize that being part of a team requires thinking about and respecting one"s teammates. This respect needs to carry beyond the field/gym/track/pool into the classroom and social settings. Athletes need to be reminded that their conduct away from practices and games will reflect back on their teammates and the league, club, or school.

S is for Self

Athletes should be encouraged to live up to their own highest personal standard of Honoring the Game, even when their opponents are not. Athletes" respect for themselves and their own standards must come first.

Having this definition of Honoring the Game (HTG) is a start. To make Honoring the Game the youth sports standard, coaches, leaders, and parents need to discuss HTG with their athletes. Coaches need to practice it with their athletes (i.e. have players officiate at practice). And perhaps most importantly, all adults in the youth sports setting (coaches, leaders, parents, officials, and fans) need to model it. If these adults Honor the Game, the athletes will too.