Fixing The Demise Of Youth Sports - The Matheny Manifesto

This is a must watch for parents and coaches. The principles apply to any sport.

Mike Matheny and his approach to youth sports became really popular a few years ago with his Matheny Manifesto which was written for a group of youth baseball players that he was going to coach.

Mike Matheny is a current manager for the St. Louis Cardinals and former catcher in the MLB.

Check out this video. There is priceless information for both coaches and parents.

You can skip to 2:48 if you already know the history of the Matheny Manifesto and get to the meat of the great content.

Here are some of the key points summarized for you.

The Dangerous Cycle Of Youth Sports That Ruins Parent and Children Relationships

Like Matheny says, there is no doubt that we lose sight of what real success is. Instead...

In the video, they mention this vicious cycle:

Perform Well > Invest More > Expect More

This creates undue tension and pressure. And many relationships between parents and their children suffer because of it.

As stated, it's not about chasing trophies or getting scholarships. According to the NCAA, only 2% of athletes are rewarded some form of a college scholarship!

As Matheny says, are we using youth sports as a weeding course to produce the best athletes?

Instead, our focus should be to teach character and life skills through sports!

Coaches And Teachers Need To Take This Seriously... Impacts Lives Of Children!

Matheny also has some great advice for coaches.

As coaches and teachers, we have a huge responsibility! When people look back on their adolescence, they often cite teachers and coaches as the most influential people.

We've been given a trust and we need to own that. We need to have a positive impact!

As coaches, we need to take time outside of practice to teach character. We need to be impactful people.

Matheny references Coach Corbin of Vanderbilt baseball, takes time before every practice to teach character. That even professional players like David Price still comes back and talks about the positive impact people like Coach Corbin had in his life.

As Coach Matheny says, as coaches, we can impact and define the character of these young athletes. This defines who they are so they can go out and change the world.

5 Requirements Of A Sports Parent

Coach Matheny says that he tells his children that their success is not defined by their achievements in sports. He also tells them how much they (Matheny and wife) love them, will not be defined by what they do in sports.

He always focuses on life after the game with his children. He wants his children to think about what they're going to do after sports.

Additionally, Matheny talks about how parents should conduct themselves.

During practice and games...

1 - Sit far away.

2 - Make sure that you're not taking over the job of a coach.

3 - You are there for support.

4 - You show up for as many games as possible.

5 - You never say a word.

Outside of practice and games...

You should ask if they want to practice. But you don't force them or push them to practice.

As Matheny says, this is more likely to push them over the edge and into playing video games instead.

The Greatest Opportunity To Learn & Kobe Bryant On Conditioning Kids Not To Think

Matheny says that he does a lot of teaching when players are on the bench next to him. He says it could be the greatest opportunity to learn.

He constantly is giving them hypotheticals and asking them what they think.

He also says that players need to learn the art of calling the game. That's where the pitcher and catcher determine how to pitch each hitter.

He says we need to stop telling players what to do. We need to teach them how to think.

They also mention that Kobe Bryant said kids are being conditioned on being told what to do rather than ask the question why. Coach Matheny said that we need to have humility as a coach and accept the question why.

We can't say "Because I said so..." This eliminates thinking and engagement.

For basketball, this relates to calling tons of plays and constantly standing on the sideline instructing players on everything... AKA "Joystick Coaching".

While these tactics may work in the short run, they have a negative impact on the long-term development of athletes.

More Resources For Parents and Coaches

This interview had a ton of great points. Here are some resources that dive into some of these points into more detail.

Also, here is the PDF to the Matheny Manifesto. There are six pages of reading. You should check it out if you have not.

Positive Impact Coaching - Articles and Resources

Steph Curry & Fear-Driven Early Sport Specialization

How to Make a Positive Impact On Your Players - 7 Aspects of Teamwork and Character We Will Focus On

When Players Need You The Most

Youth Basketball Guidelines: From NBA & USA Basketball!

Youth Coaches: Destroy Your Playbook and Do This Instead

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Chad says:
3/12/2018 at 2:01:13 PM

Great topic. I''ve been coaching my son''s baseball and basketball teams since he was 5 yrs. old. He''s 12 now and I am just starting to understand how important this approach to coaching really is. Especially, recognizing how much pressure kids put on themselves. The pressure kids put on themselves is a performance barrier that only becomes harder to penetrate when coaches and parents add additional pressure. Coaches and parents need to do a better job of reducing pressure, and unrealistic expectations, if they want kids to perform to the best of their ability. I wish there was a reset button that would allow me to go back and start over when the boys were 5. Matheny''s Manifesto is a must read for any youth coach. Thanks for the great article Joe.


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