If You Coach or Parent Youth Athletes – You Must Watch This

By Joe Haefner

If you are serious about helping youth athletes turn into healthy adults from an emotional, psychological, and physical standpoint, you need to watch this video.

For any of you who have been with us since we started this newsletter in 2007, I’m sure the words spoken in this video are nothing new to you. However, it’s still a good reminder on how we should treat children in youth sports.

Here are some important messages from the video…

40 million play youth sports – 70% quit by 13 years old.

  • For reasons that kids play sports, winning does not even make the top 10.
  • Kids quit because they’re tired of getting yelled at.
  • Kids quit because they’re afraid to make mistakes.
  • Kids quit because of an emphasis on winning which leads to a lack of playing time.

In “competitive” youth sports, it’s not the kids who compete harder, it’s the adults.

Sports are supposed to be about kids playing, having fun, learning, making friendships, and learning how to solve problems on their own.

Players should be rewarded for hustle, hard work, and being a good teammate.

Kids aren’t becoming better. They’re becoming bitter.

Let your kids learn how to fail.

A child’s worst memory from youth sports is often the ride home.

If you get anything from this video… this is the most important part… Rather than trying to give advice after a game, simply say…

“I love watching you play.” And that’s it!

Related Resources:

What’s Wrong With Youth Basketball Leagues? (And Suggestions To Improve Them)

8 Secrets To Success & How They Relate To Youth Coaching / Parenting

Coaching Youth Basketball – Drills, Offense, Defense, Coaching Strategies, Practice Planning, and More


  1. Sane — November 25, 2014 @ 8:01 am

    Excellent. If kids played without the score and without standings, then maybe people would understand that this is recreation. Maybe the recreation dept. needs a boost of funds so they can recreate and just play

  2. Larry Griff — November 25, 2014 @ 8:47 am

    Great, great stuff, a must for every coach. Thank you for sharing this.

    My favorite line from their website with this video :
    The single greatest effect on performance is an athlete’s state of mind


  3. Maria mtz — November 25, 2014 @ 9:20 am

    I have a 13 year old boy who loves basketball. He attended basketball summer camp and loved it. He was ready to show and practice what he learned. Bb season starts and he is ready for this but he goes to practice after school and sits yes sits the whole time during practice. Well he comes home and tells me in tears he sat the whole time during practice and never gets a chance to practice. The next day he goes to his coach and tells him he doesnt want to be sitting on the side lines and wants to quit and his coach says “ok” and leaves it as that. No talking him out of it or asking him why so he did quit. He is now in off season sports, and lifting weights. My point is our coaches are all about winning it doesnt matter whose dreams or spirits they distroy.

  4. Coach — November 25, 2014 @ 9:51 am

    Maria, it stinks that your son didn’t get to play but 13-14 years old is 7th/8th grade. It’s starting to get to the point of HS, which is not “everyone plays” mentality. Should the rest of the team sacrifice simply so everyone can play? It isn’t 4th grade anymore. Not everyone gets a medal.

  5. Connell — November 25, 2014 @ 10:16 am

    It’s true everyone does not get to play in middle school or high school but not to practice is ridiculous. You never see kids progress or development if you don’t look at potential or give opportunity and that is what practice if for. You practice to get better, develop chemistry and develop players. To not have everyone practice is a detriment on the coach ability to see talent and coach a successful team.

  6. JT — November 25, 2014 @ 10:17 am

    Coach – Hope you are nowhere near my community and especially anywhere near my kids. You don’t deserve the honor of being called Coach. Yes, they are 7/8 grade. But…..she was talking about practice. A team needs various players to fill roles. Sitting an entire practice is not a role a 7/8th grade team needs.
    Quit your hobby and hope the day job doesn’t sit you on the bench and pay you for your performance.

  7. Jackie — November 25, 2014 @ 12:06 pm

    I second that JT! Coach just gave another example of why kids do not continue participating in sports.

  8. Chris — November 25, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

    Excellent just what the doctor ordered. It starts today for me how about you? My parents are all being sent this clip.

  9. Chris — November 25, 2014 @ 1:46 pm


    You are part of the problem we all have to deal with. Maria is talking about practice.

  10. Paul Jensen — November 25, 2014 @ 3:11 pm

    How insightful and timely for me. Tonight I begin my 1st year as coach for 6-7th graders for basketball. I volunteered to coach because of the prevalence of the over the top mentality shown by my son’s past coaches. I have been questioning myself on how far to push these kids trying to teach them the game. This video just told me, back off and let them have fun. Let them own the game and their free time. Coach K …not Coach Knight!

  11. Charlie — November 25, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

    Coach why does High School have to focus only on the capable competitive player. When I went we had intramural programs where the school coaches spent time each session teaching skills. I experienced a number of occasions where team mates were asked to step up to the school competitive team – some did and some said no thanks I enjoy what I’m doing. There’s a message in that. If you aren’t doing that then you are just lost in your own fantasy – whatever it may be

  12. Andy — November 25, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

    In our area (San Jose, CA), the soccer and basketball leagues are hyper competitive. Starting in 4-5th grades, kids have to specialize and play only one sport year round. I believe it is the numerous leagues, run by coaches who want to feel like gods, that are destroying the fun of sports at such young ages.

    I understand that high school is competitive, but a lot of kids stop playing by 5th grade or middle school. Even in high school, the best soccer players don’t play for their high schools because they are in the traveling leagues.

  13. Phil — November 25, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

    I am a youth basketball coach in Tasmania, Australia at beginner level and also at the higher performance level . I see exactly the same behaviour in youth sports with the same consequences. I wonder though about starting competitive sports at age 5?
    And a few words for the coach who sits kids out at practice- get real! Kids learn through activity, not just watching! If he has not complied with rules then talk about it and find a more appropriate way to communicate what is not acceptable. If he has followed all the rules then you have no right to deny him PRACTICE time and opportunity.
    Great video!

  14. stephen Denney — November 25, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

    Fantastic video i have twin boys who i coach in BB Australia under 16 competition .I share all responsibilities in my basketball team , i am fair in court time and remain a positive outlook during the BB game . I encourage my players to be competive and that is all i really ask of them .This video has just given me a wake up call to why i started coaching BB in the first place (and i have never said that to my boys)(i love watching you play) (i have said i enjoy watching you play).
    thanks for sharing the video.

  15. Bryan — November 26, 2014 @ 1:11 am

    What a great video, can’t wait to share. As for “Coach”, wow! Talk about missing the boat. 7th and 8th grade isn’t high school.. by choosing to not play everyone and worry about winning at that age you miss a LOT of late bloomers that would make great players if they were just given a chance to stick with it and develop their full potential.

  16. Sujith Croos — November 26, 2014 @ 11:03 am

    There was a BB match for my daughter in the school today, they lost the game. She was upset because there teacher was insisting them you all have to win this game. luckily I wached this video before the game. so after the game when we are returning home I told I enjoied watching you playing, yhat’s changed her sad mode. so thank you very much. I coach small children Bb I will use this in my practice. great video tks Sujith croos

  17. mike — November 26, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

    The unfortunate thing is that the coaches, and I use this word loosely, that need to watch this video, and everything else about youth sport, won’t watch this. It is the converted that go to sites like this. The uninformed coach doesn’t understand why kids play, they don’t understand how kids learn, the don’t understand the “windows of opportunity” to develop the various athletic capacities. Anyone in North America can hang a shingle that says they are a ‘coach’ – we need to train youth coaches. While it is understand training will not make a coach competent, it is much better to insist upon some training, than have no training at all.

  18. John — November 27, 2014 @ 1:13 am

    I coached youth sports over 40years biggest thing I learned was all kids have dreams let them achieve them by letting them play the game and make there memories as well as friends

  19. Rubén Castillo — November 27, 2014 @ 7:10 am

    We coaches sometimes have to deal with parents who ask us to be more competitive. I have one that comes to me to whisper “Hey, we have to win this game, take the good players to the court”…I have one who even took his kids to another Club for that coach gives himself more importance to winning than learning by participation”. It’s hard in these days when some parents (Thanks God they are just a few) see their kids as future NBA players.

  20. Matt — November 27, 2014 @ 9:31 pm

    Having been around the Bball world for a long time- I have come to realise that I dont have the skill, knowledge or wisdom to know which kids are going to be “the best” in the long term. Sure I can pick player A over player B as the better player now, but kids change so much physically and mentally, that there is a good chance that player B may become the star in 5 years time.

    So I see myself as a steward of the game. I teach for the present and for the future. Skills according to their current ability and the joy of the game so that in 10-20-30 years time they still enjoy hoops.

    My teams have more fun losing that other teams have winning! And yes, we do play hard for the win!

  21. Jason — November 28, 2014 @ 4:59 am

    I think its the same with any sport at the end of the day if your child is enjoying the challenge and wants to improve they will. And for those parents who think/believe their child will be a professional athlete in the NBA or NFL or NRL (australian rugby league) or even a Tennis Professional you really need a reality check as less than 1% of all kids running around playing sport will make it to an elite level and turn professional, I think kids need to learn how to compete,not focusing on winning or losing and the love of the chosen sport will push them to improve because they want to.

  22. Jt — December 3, 2014 @ 11:49 am

    Great video and article. Only thing I would like to see addressed is parental responsibility. Parents sign their kids up for sports that the kid doesn’t want to play or puts them into competitive situations when they want rec ball treatment and rules. Everyone is aware there are differences in the the level of competitiveness between rec ball and “travel” ball but some parents are so determined to get their kids on the “right” team that they make the wrong choice for their kid. Then they compound their poor choice by expecting the coach to work miracles with their kid and have unrealistic playing time expectations. No what the ground rules are before you sign up your child!

  23. Albert alocillo — December 7, 2014 @ 3:03 am

    Thanks for your message coach, but 1 thing I wannna add, they need to be tought and develop spiritually because it is the foundation that propels thier Physical,Emotional,intelectual qoutients, spirituality is something that that we did not see, but you can feel and see it how they respond and behaved,by faith and have joy and Love, true love comes from God

  24. Ariel Rabe — December 20, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

    If the kid has experienced hardship in life, he’ll be able to respond positively to the situation. Ala Manny Pacquiao. But MP perhaps is two or three in a million. He ‘s actually a phenom in the world of sports. The coach might just be trying to find out how the kid will react to his subtle “call”. Parents on the other hand should be quick to the “draw” in helping their kids recover emotionally from the practice “snub”. Sadly, there are parents who are simply not “trained” for it. Schools or PTA’s should focus on this area.

  25. Phillip — January 1, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

    Joe, thanks for sharing this! I have to believe that no one actually WANTS to ruin our children for sports, but it’s so easy to lose the bigger perspective. I especially like the bit about how his wife stopped him from talking in the car, even when he had a legitimate question. Even when we think we understand better, hat’s the point where the smartest of us will often still fail.

  26. Daniel dua — April 12, 2015 @ 11:57 am

  27. Daniel dua — April 12, 2015 @ 12:01 pm

    It’s really a nice video and many attimes coaches who train kids see them as adults in terms of game play,but the truth of the matter is that they are still learning and it takes time so my watch word is PATEINCE.

  28. tiffany schaper — January 31, 2016 @ 1:08 pm


  29. Team Sports — August 20, 2017 @ 3:02 am

    Parenting your kids can be exhausting and also if they like sports. This could mean to you but for your kids, it also means a lot to them. Don’t stop them on the sports that they like knowing that they are good in that sport. Just keep on motivating them to their every game. So that they will get inspired while you’re supporting them.

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