Performance is a Behavior, NOT an Outcome!

Source: Changing the Game Project


Last week I received the following email (edited for anonymity). We get calls and emails like this quite often from amazing, passionate coaches who are trying to make a difference. Take a read:

Dear John,

I’m currently a head football coach…I took over the program last January after being on staff for the previous 10 years. We had a great offseason and a solid summer. We started the season off with a come from behind victory. Everything was going well. However, these past 10 days have made me question everything. We had a below average week of practice last week and got crushed by our arch rival. Our best player got ejected for fighting and…his brother also received a personal foul and cursed me on the sideline when I tried to reason with him. We have had an equally poor week of practice this week.

Since I took over, my main concern has been trying to change the culture here. I am at a low socioeconomic urban school. Many of my players have no father figure in their life. Many of them are poor. Many of them don’t eat lunch. Many of them aren’t disciplined at home because their single mothers are just trying to survive. I knew all this coming in, so my main goal has been trying to get them to be better humans.

I have seen several of our kids grow on and off the field but I feel like we’re starting to slip back into the abyss. Our practices have been flat. The kids are starting to seem uninterested. They are so used to being the ugly duckling of our district and the perennial loser that I don’t think they know any better. It’s like they are okay with it because that’s the way it’s always been. What can I do to turn this around?”

Sincerely, Coach B

Wouldn’t you want a coach this dedicated to your kids to be their coach? I know I would. Coach B cares about the person, not the athlete. He sees sport as a vehicle that will give them the life skills to better their life situation. For him, it is not about the wins and losses, but the willingness to compete the right way. This is a great coach. So how can we help?

Recently I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, “The Talent Equation” with Stuart Armstrong. Stuart’s guest was his coaching mentor, Mark Bennett, M.B.E. Mark is the founder of Performance Development Systems Coaching, and a mentor to high-performance and professional coaches across the globe. Mark is a former British Commandos trainer and originally developed his PDS system as a way to shape the behavior of elite soldiers. Since then he has worked with professional coaching staffs from the NBA, professional rugby, golf, and elite NCAA teams, shaping coaches so they can shape their athletes.

His wise words during the podcast were the exact advice I needed to pass onto Coach B:

Performance is a behavior, NOT an outcome.

We get so focused on scoreboards and standings that we lose sight of the foundational element of coaching: shaping behavior. When we get the behavior right, when we get our athletes to take ownership of the standards for each and every little thing they do, the magic happens.

Athletes rise to the standard.

They hold each other accountable.

They define what are acceptable levels of focus, effort, and execution.

They train more effectively.

Great results follow.

When you get the behavior right, the scoreboard starts to take care of itself. Athletes control the controllables, make more effective plays, and those small plays add up to big wins.

Coaches, first and foremost, we are shapers of behavior. When we get the behavior to the required and agreed upon standard, results start taking care of themselves. This is my advice to Coach B: focus on behavior first.

This seems simple, but in reality, most coaches do it backward. They focus first on the outcome and hope that the behavior will follow. They install new defenses and trick offensive plays, they teach tactics and technique, they up the fitness expectations, and then come game time, they roam the sidelines yelling “But we went over this in practice!”

They have no idea if learning took place. Just because we taught it, doesn’t mean they learned it. The coaches have no idea if the athletes were listening. And often, when the game gets tight and the pressure ramps up, their teams crumble under the stress of focusing on the scoreboard. They revert to the old norm. Players fight the opponent. They yell at officials. They argue with each other. They stop controlling the controllables, and eventually they lose regardless of talent.

Great coaches and elite athletes understand that performance is a behavior, not an outcome. It is doing the little things correctly, moment to moment, day after day. But how do we do this in our teams?

First, you must clearly define your core values, your standards, the list of “this is how we do things here.” In conjunction with your athletes (as we have written about here), you take the time and define the standards of effort, focus, execution, respect, humility, selflessness, and more. You allow your athletes to define who they want to be and how they want to do it. You get them to sign their names and commit to being the type of teammate described by those values. I recently did this work with a team I am coaching, here are our values:

Next, before every practice, you must get your athletes to own the level of performance – the behaviors – for the day. Mark Bennett recommends that his coaches have the athletes define what acceptable, unacceptable, and exceptional looks like for the chosen activity. This includes not only values based things such as effort and communication, but tactical and technical elements such as spacing, movement, speed of play, and whatever else you are trying to teach. The athletes define and own what is good enough, what is great, and most importantly, what is not good enough and warrants a stoppage of play and a reset.

Bennett challenges them by asking “how long can we sustain acceptable and exceptional,” thus giving the athletes a goal to shoot for. The activity starts and continues as long as the behavior level is acceptable or exceptional, and stops when the level becomes unacceptable. Usually, your players will overestimate how long is sustainable, but over time, with consistent reinforcement, their behavior – and thus their performance – starts to change. Most importantly,  the athletes own this process. They define the standards, they define acceptable behaviors, and when it all clicks, they identify unacceptable, call each other out on it, and hit the reset button and do it right.

Within your culture, you may have individuals that still do not buy into the behavior, even as the team as a whole progresses. This is the situation with the coach I wrote about above. In this case individual intervention is warranted. Sit the athlete down and follow these three steps:

  1. Have the athlete define the team values, and identify which one he or she is not adhering to. Many coaches do this in front of the team for the benefit of 1 or 2 kids. Do it individually so that the specific kids know you are speaking to them, and their teammates don’t think they are being called out for the actions of a few.
  2. Help the athlete see their behavior through other people’s’ eyes. “How do you think it makes your teammates feel when they are giving maximum effort and you are going through the motions?” “How do you think it makes your coaches feel when we rely on you as a leader and you disrespect your teammates?” Most kids never think of this.
  3. Help your athlete change by asking “Is that who you want to be?” If the answer is no (which it is 99% of the time) ask them “how can I help you change?” When you see their new behaviors, catch them being good. If you want the good behavior to continue, you have to acknowledge and reward it.

Sadly, you will from time to time have individuals that will not get on the bus, and you have to make a decision whether it is time to let them off and move on without them, regardless of talent. You must understand culture trumps talent in any environment, and even the most talented players will slowly destroy an entire culture if they are not a good fit and they are behaving counterintuitively to the cultural standards.

Finally, shaping behavior is not a sometime thing; it is an all time thing. As Bennett says “Changing behavior takes time, and the quickest way to change behavior and make progress is to do it every time you step on the field, not just once in awhile.” It is confusing for kids when failure to meet the standards is ignored by coaches time after time and then when coach is having a bad day, he loses it and yells at everyone for the same behavior that was OK the previous week. If it is not OK, we must say so. If we let it go today, we are saying that it is not really a standard. You condone what you do not confront. You must intentionally cultivate the right behaviors and you must intentionally confront the wrong ones.

Coaches, our team’s performance is a behavior, not an outcome. This is my advice to the coach who wrote us last week. How we play is shaped by our standards and our accountability. Identify your standards, agree upon them and define them with your team, and agree upon what happens when we fall below the standard. Hold everyone accountable, and get them to hold each other accountable. Identify the individuals that still don’t get it, and either get them to change their behavior or get them off the bus.

When do you do this?

Every. Single. Day.

When you realize that performance is a behavior, the result takes care of itself.

Good luck Coach B, and to all of you as well.

Indoor 2017/18 Tryouts

Below are the date and times for the first round of tryouts.


DO NOT wear outdoor cleats to these events



o    Sunday October 1st –  Calgary Soccer Centre, Albi Homes Field

4:00 – 4:50pm – preseason training

o    Thursday October 5th – Thornecliffe Greenview – 6:15

– 7:15pm – preseason training


BU10 preseason training

o    Thursday October 5th – Thornecliffe Greenview – 7:30

– 8:30pm – preseason training



o    Wednesday October 4th – Calgary Soccer Centre, West fiel – 5:00 – 5:50pm – preseason training

o    Friday October 6th- Calgary Soccer Centre, Albi Homes Field – 6:00 – 6:50pm – preseason training



o    Sunday October 1st – Calgary Soccer Centre, Albi Homes Field – 5:00 – 5:50pm – scrimmage session

o    Friday October 6th – Calgary Soccer Centre, Albi Homes Field – 7:00 – 7:50pm – scrimmage session



o    Sunday October 1st – Calgary Soccer Centre, Albi Homes Field – 6:00 – 7:00pm – scrimmage session

o    Wednesday October 4th – Calgary Soccer Centre, West field-  7:00 – 7:50pm – scrimmage session



o    Wednesday October 4th – Calgary Soccer Centre, West field – 8:00 – 9:00pm – scrimmage session

o    Friday October 6th – Calgary Soccer Centre, Albi Homes Field  – 8:00 – 9:00pm – scrimmage session


End the Hate: 20 Ways to Stand Up and Help Stomp Out Bullying

Source: Stop out bullying –

By Toni Birdsong on Oct 11, 2016


Bullying Prevention

No one deserves to be bullied. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and the perfect time to pause and educate your family on specific ways to help stop bullying online and off. Thanks to the Stomp Out Bullying movement, this month is packed with a variety of awareness events and tools to help parents, schools, and young people put an end to this devastating social epidemic.

According to the group, one in six students say they’ve either been the victim of some form of bullying or, witnessed others being bullied. And one in eight students has experienced bigotry and name calling. But what kind of behavior is considered harmless teasing and what dips into the realm of bullying? Let’s take a look:

Different Types of Bullying

Physical Bullying: This is the most obvious form of intimidation and can consist of kicking, hitting, biting, pinching, hair pulling, and making threats. A bully may threaten to punch you if you don’t give up your money, your lunch, etc.

Verbal Bullying: Words hurt. Verbal bullying often accompanies physical behavior. This can include name calling, spreading rumors, and persistent teasing.

Emotional Intimidation: You don’t have to be insulted or hit to be bullied. Emotional intimidation is closely related to both physical and verbal bullying. A bully may deliberately exclude you from a group activity such as a party or school outing.

Racist Bullying: Making racial slurs, spray painting graffiti, mocking the victim’s cultural customs, and making offensive gestures, is all a part of the act of racial bullying.Bullying Prevention

Sexual Bullying: This type of bullying often gets minimized or overlooked but is a problem. Sexual bullying is unwanted physical contact or abusive comments.

Cyberbullying: Because of technology’s primary role in our culture, one of the most common kinds of bullying today is cyberbullying. This is when one or a group of kids or teens uses technology (emails, Web sites, social media, chat rooms, instant messaging and texting) to torment, threaten, harass, humiliate, embarrass or target another person or group of people.

Hazing: Hazing is a ritualistic test and a task involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a gang, club, military organization or another group. This can include physical (sometimes violent) or mental (possibly degrading) practices.

Anti-Gay Bullying. Nine out of 10 LGBT students reported being harassed and bullied last year. Over one-third of LGBT students are physically assaulted at school because their sexual orientation and gender identity are different than those of heterosexual students. Over half of all students report hearing homophobic remarks often at school. More than 30% reported missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.

According to a 2014 McAfee study, cyberbullying is on the rise with 87% of youth having witnessed cyberbullying due to appearance (72%) race or religion (26%) and sexuality (22%). Pretty startling is this sad stat: 52% of teens have engaged in offline physical fights because of something that ignited online.

20 ways kids can help stomp out bullying:

According to Stomp Out Bullying, kids can have an enormous impact on the bullying crisis. Whether they know the person being bullied or not, kids can stop standing by and STAND UP! To safely support a victim:
1.Don’t laugh
2.Don’t encourage the bully in any way
3.Stay at a safe distance and help the target get away
4.Don’t become an “audience” for the bully
5.Reach out in friendship to a bullying victim
6.Help the victim in any way you can
7.Support the victim in private
8.If you notice someone being isolated from others, invite them to join you
9.Include the victim in some of your activities
10.Tell an adult if you see bullying or are bullied
11.Encourage your school to participate in Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention
12.Start a peer mentoring group at school
13.Raise awareness of bullying and cyberbullying prevention in your community
14.Teach friends about being tolerant
15.Ask your school to set up a private ballot box where kids who are being bullied can report it anonymously
16.Get someone to sponsor a conflict resolution team
17.Encourage school administrators to adopt Internet-use policies that address online hate, harassment, and pornography.
18.Create events in your school and community to raise anti-bullying Bullying Preventionawareness

19.Create bullying and cyberbullying prevention posters
20.Stand up and do something when you hear someone making jokes or comments about: Someone’s sexual identity, someone’s family member, someone’s weight, someone’s choice of dress, someone’s skin color, someone’s accent, or someone’s disability

For more creative ideas on how to be part of the anti-bullying solution, go to If you are an educator, parent, or student, you are in a powerful position to make a significant impact on this serious social crisis.

Signs your child may be a victim of bullying:
1.Looks anxious or upset if he or she receives a new text or alert on their phone.
2.Frequently gets headaches, nausea, or a stress-related illness. He or she increasingly asks to stay home from school or come home early from school.
3.Trouble sleeping and an increase in nightmares.
4.Becomes withdrawn, moody, angry or unwilling to discuss topics dealing with school, friends, or other peers.
5.Deletes or deactivates favorite social networks like Instagram or Facebook.
6.Suddenly loses his or her steady group of friends and refuses to talk about the details or place blame.
7.Decline in grades or a loss of interest in favorite hobbies, sports, or school clubs and activities.
8.Uses negative, hopeless, or suicidal references and may describe feelings as being lonely.
9.May begin to act out feelings of helplessness and frustration by bullying siblings or younger children in family’s social circles.
10.Tends to “lose” things like lunch money, electronics, or other expensive things bullies tend to take.

What to do if someone is bullying you:

Tell someone. Encourage your child to talk to a trusted adult. Many tweens and teens keep quiet when being bullied which often leads to more bullying and communicates to others that she is fair game for bullying. Encourage your child to come to you at the first sign of bullying or conflict online. Monitor his or her online circles and assess the tone of her online conversations.

Save all evidence. Print copies of messages and websites. Use the save feature on instant messages and take screen shots of posts or comments on social networks.

Report the abuse to the online platform, to school and/or police. Report the cyberbully to the social network in the Help section. If the perpetrator is another student, share evidence with the school counselor. Report the cyberbullying to the police or cyber crime unit in your area if the cyberbullying contains threats, intimidation or sexual exploitation.

The best defense against cyberbullying is a good offense, and that means doing whatever it takes to build and maintain open and honest communication with your child. While regularly conversing may not prevent cyberbullying, it does help you both effectively face challenges—together—as they arise.

2017 Fall Season Kicks Off!

Source: CMSA


Fall Season Kicks off September 5!

Welcome to the over 300 teams participating in the 2017 CMSA Fall Season

Fall Season games begin September 5 offering teams who participated in the outdoor program the opportunity to play outdoors for an additional 4 weeks. The top 4 teams from each division proceed to the Fall Cup finals, an exciting final weekend of outdoor soccer and fun way to wrap up the 2017 season.

More information on the Fall Season and Fall Cup can be found HERE.


Google it! What Youth Sports Can Learn from the Tech Giant About Building Great Teams


Headed into the 2004 Olympic Games, the Men’s USA Basketball team was 110-2 all-time. They were 24-0 since the introduction of the 1992 “Dream Team”(NBA-era).

The team consisted of current and future NBA stars. The best of the best. The greatest players from the greatest league in the world. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, and others graced the roster.

These were the royalty of their time. It was a collection of the very best players placed on one team and set for another round of world dominance.

At the Olympics, they were embarrassed by Puerto Rico 92-73 and also lost to Lithuania and Argentina before they stumbled to a Bronze medal. By historical standards, it was a disaster.

How could a team so talented, selected from the world’s best league, from the country that invented basketball, not win gold?

On paper, this was another “dream team”. In reality, it was dubbed the “nightmare team”. They were the best we had, but somehow they could not function at their highest possible output. Instead of a perfect team, they were a perfect disaster. What happened?

The answer may be as simple as turning to Google…

Not in a Google search, but in some Google research. Team USA may have assembled the world’s top players on one “Dream Team” but the recipe for success calls for more than the most skilled.

Recently, Google wanted to know how to build the perfect team. They found the best and brightest researchers to cull through data and evaluate teams. They reviewed volumes of research. They also evaluated 180 Google teams through more than 200 interviews to discover the skills and traits of the best teams.

Google found 250 traits. They had a library of data collected and analyzed by sociologists, organizational psychologists, and statisticians. From this data one important revelation became clear: building the perfect team had little to do with finding the best people.

Let me repeat: building the perfect team had little to do with finding the best people.

In youth sports, we have a complex system of “selection” to choose our sports teams. We look for the best of the best and put them on one team. While we are, of course, trying to identify the best talent, what Project Aristotle teaches us is that collecting talent is not sufficient. Building great teams is not only about selecting the best people. Their research found that there are five ingredients that take talented groups of people from good to great. They are:

  1. Dependability – Every successful team is built on a foundation of trust and it can arise from doing what you said you would do on time and effectively. Great teams have dependable members. As a coach, do you deliver what you promise on time and in the way you promised? If you’re dependable, they’ll trust you and, in turn, learn from your example. As the New Zealand All Blacks would say (borrowing from Rudyard Kipling), “For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack”. Players who work hard for each other, and trust and depend on each other build a formidable bond. Teach your players to depend on each other and to be dependable. Choosing players for skill and ignoring their dependability is the first step to missing the boat. All the talent in the world doesn’t matter if a player isn’t dependable and doesn’t build trust.
  2. Structure and Clarity – Great teams implement this ingredient with as much fervor and intentionality as they would a proper training regimen. If you want to create the perfect team be vigilant about working together to set very clearly defined goals. Be adamant about making sure everyone has clearly defined roles. Take two of the NBA dynasties – the Jordan Era Chicago Bulls and the Curry Era Golden State Warriors. One thing was obvious with both – everyone had a clearly defined role in order to achieve their collective goals. Dennis Rodman was not brought to the Bulls for his scoring acumen and he knew it. In fact, when Kerr and Jordan would put in extra work he’d join them to rebound. He said rebounding them taught him each shooter’s spin, roll, and bounce. He began to “know instinctively” where a ball would go based on who shot it. That’s a player with a clear role and he was staying in his lane and fulfilling his role.
  3. Meaning – Great teams have a “why,” a greater purpose. A very clear personal significance in work can engage, empower, compel, unite, and transform a group of people into an unstoppable unit. Work with your team to create significance. Help each member find a why. Why are they there? Why do they do what they do? Why are you there? If you want to help them discover meaning, be willing to be vulnerable and share your why. People who have a why are willing to endure the suffering. They’re willing to sacrifice. No matter how young, each kid has a reason to be there and you have to know it and help them embrace it. Here’s a hint: for every kid FUN will be a significant factor in why they play. They are there to have fun, so if you keep fun as a meaning for the group they will be fully engaged.
  4. Impact – Google wants their team members to work for something greater than themselves and to be vehement about supporting the greater good. In terms of your team, sometimes the impact has to do with the team itself as being greater than the single player. The All Blacks talk about being good ancestors and “planting trees you’ll never see”. All team members are focused on something greater than themselves. They want to extend the legacy passed to them and plant the seeds of that legacy for future generations. That’s impact. Great coaches have learned to use words like brotherhood and sisterhood to elicit this impact response. Youth coaches can also find a charity to support through an organization such as Go Play Better where they can set technical goals which trigger charity donations if achieved. There should always be a higher purpose than winning, especially in youth sports.
  5. Psychological Safety – This is the most important, and rarest ingredient of the perfect team. Creating a place of psychological safety requires us to be willing to provide our players a place to take risks, to have a voice, to ask judgement-free questions, and safe to be vulnerable. This is elusive and it my require you to model it first. If you want to create a psychologically safe environment, the easiest way is for the adults to be vulnerable. Open up, share, and be willing to be judged by your own players. Are you willing to risk mistakes in front or your athletes and admit when they happen? Are you willing to ask “stupid” questions or admit you don’t have all the answers? Are you capable of sharing something personal with your players so they know it’s okay to be open? When I taught kindergarten, we’d do a morning circle. The rules were simple, whoever had the talking stick could speak without judgment, laughter, ridicule, etc. During the year we asked questions, we shared dreams, we discussed vulnerable issues in our lives. It was a safe space for us. If a kindergarten class can do it, you can do it with your team.

The research is pretty clear: teams and leaders that instill and cultivate these five ingredients will see a profound impact on team performance, because they raise the standards of the collective. These standards are what is known as “group norms.” This is where creating the perfect team lies and may help us understand what happened to the US Olympic team in 2004.

Group norms are traditions, behavioral standards, unspoken rules, mantras, and habits of excellence that regulate the interactions and functioning of a team. These norms are often unspoken, yet understood through observation and interaction .

Some groups, for example the New Zealand All Blacks, have clearly stated norms. They give each new member a “black book” that contains the sayings, the advice, the rules, and the accepted values of the team. Players from generations before remind the new player what makes an All Black and how an All Black behaves. They even have spoken mantras to remind teammates of these norms – Sweep the sheds, for instance.

This is a team that best exemplifies the power of group norms. They win. Year in year out. They win as a byproduct of the team culture. Though talent plays a role, the All Blacks adhere to a strict code in order to maintain the team culture. It’s not about the hardware. It’s about the software. Not coincidentally, they possess all five of the secret ingredients.

Does this translate to youth sports? You bet it does.

You might argue that Google has technology teams, not a youth sports teams. True, but team dynamics, behavioral psychology, and sociology don’t know the difference. The underlying dynamics between the participants remain constant. Human interaction is human interaction no matter where it occurs.

Secondly, you might say that Google studied teams of adults. Yes, we shouldn’t treat children like mini-adults. Behavioral dynamics of adults may have gotten a little more nuanced, but they are still based on human emotion and response. We mature in our behaviors, but the emotional responses to stimuli are still similar whether we are 8 or 88. In addition, teams are living organisms. Whether that team is a group of adults or a group of children it will develop methods of interaction and behavioral patterns. Visit any Kindergarten classroom on the first day of school and then again on the last and you’ll find a clear “culture” developed. Children are capable of team culture just as much as adults. Human interaction is human interaction no matter the age.

Finally, people may argue if great teams require five primary ingredients, why have we never heard of this? The truth is we have, but many coaches never focus on the “soft skills” of team dynamics. We focus on the “hardware of the system” – the skills, talents and tactics of teams. These five ingredients have nothing to do with hardware, but here is the kicker: the magic is NOT in the hardware. The magic of success is in the software that governs how the hardware functions. Instilling these five dynamics makes all the Xs and Os that much more powerful.

It’s our obligation to choose and to develop teams that have these five ingredients as the foundation. We have focused way too long on the hardware of our teams, and like the 2004 USA Men’s Basketball team taught us, the best hardware on the planet cannot function if it doesn’t have good software installed. Go out and put some more time into your operating software. You will quickly see a difference.

WOC #20 Jim Thompson, Founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance, on How Connection Precedes Commitment in Leadership



What if there was a single component you could add to your coaching that would get total commitment from your players, create better relationships with your parents, and possibly help you win more games? Jim Thompson shares this component and more in the newest Way of Champions Podcast. He also discusses the knowledge, strategies, and advice he has learned from some of the world’s greatest coaches in his 20 year journey of “Developing Better Athletes, Better People”. Listen in to hear more.

Jim Thompson, founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance, started PCA in 1998 to transform the culture of youth sports into a Development Zone™ with the goal to develop Better Athletes, Better People. PCA’s vision of youth sports as a Development Zone has attracted the support and involvement of many elite coaches, athletes, academics and business leaders in this country.
Jim received an MBA from Stanford where he was Director of the Public Management Program, named during his tenure as the nation’s top non-profit business management program. He has written nine books on youth sports including: Positive Coaching, The Double-Goal Coach, Shooting in the Dark, Elevating Your Game and Developing Better Athletes, Better People.

Subscribe to the Way of Champions Podcast on iTunes

WOC #19 Sam Walker, Best Selling Author of The Captain Class, The counterintuitive leadership qualities of the men and women who led the greatest teams of all time.


What do the Collingwood Magpies, the New Zealand All Blacks, Barcelona Football Club and the New York Yankees have in common? They’re all members of author Sam Walker’s list of the 16 greatest sports teams ever. It’s not the talent, the coach, or the strategy that made these teams great – it was the Captain. Syd Coventry, Richie McCaw, Yogi Bera, and Carles Puyol led these teams to eternal greatness, and what made them great captains is not what you think…

Sam Walker is The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor for enterprise, the unit that directs the paper’s in-depth page-one features and investigative reporting projects. A former reporter, sports columnist, and sports editor, Walker founded the Journal’s prizewinning daily sports coverage in 2009.

In addition to The Captain Class, he is the author of Fantasyland, a bestselling account of his attempt to win America’s top fantasy baseball expert competition (of which he is a two-time champion).

Subscribe to the Way of Champions Podcast on iTunes

Show Notes
9:00 How Sam came up with his list of the World’s Greatest Teams
14:45 The Captain with the unconventional skill set
22:00 Why the best player is not the best candidate for captain
24:05 Who is the most important player on Barcelona according to Sam
30:00 Many times we bypass the “water carriers” for great players and miss the boat
39:30 Which “club” had two teams that made the top 16 greatest of all time?
46:00 The goal is Sustained Excellence not Winning Championships
48:30 Sam’s advice to coaches- Look for the charismatic connector
51:45 Sam’s advice to athletes – It’s all behavior. Study leader behaviors
58:00 Finding Sam

Finding Ryan
Website – By Sam Walker
Twitter – @SamWalkers
His Book on Amazon – The Captain Class

2017 CMSA Fall Season Starts Sept 5th

2017 CMSA Fall Season Schedules posted Friday August 25

The 2017 CMSA Fall Season is an extension to the outdoor program and provides teams who participated in the CMSA outdoor season the opportunity to play an additional 4-6 games throughout the month of September.

Fall Season commences Tuesday, September 5.

The CMSA Fall season, and outdoor soccer, will officially wrap up October 1 with the CMSA Fall Cup.

More information on the CMSA Fall Season and Fall Cup can be found HERE.


Changing the Game Project: Looking for Answers? FREE Booklet With Links to Our Most Popular Articles for Parents, Coaches, Athletes and Youth Sports Organizations



Here at Changing the Game Project, every week we get a call or email that says “remember that article you wrote about…? We want to use it in our newsletter and we can’t find it. What was it called?” Well, after four years of publishing thousands of words a month, we have realized that we sometimes cannot even find the articles we are looking for. Therefore, we developed a comprehensive resource guide as a way for you (and to be honest, us!) to easily find the articles you need to save you time and energy and keep you doing what you do best – coaching, parenting, playing sports, or running your organization. Below you will find links to the top 5 articles in each category so you can get started, as well as share this page with the coaches, parents and youth sports organizations in your life. Also, you can grab the entire booklet of every article we have ever published here (it’s only 4 pages, just title links)


How to Use The Guide: The guide is organized into five sections: Parents, Coaches, Athletes, and Youth Sports Organizations/Schools/Clubs and Book Recommendations. Obviously, some of the articles pertain to multiple categories, so feel free to peruse each category for headlines that interest you. As new articles come out we will update to keep it as current as possible.

Our hope is you will use this guide as a means to share a better experience with your friends and colleagues and continue to help us spread the resources for Changing the Game Project. If you are a Coach, link to helpful articles in your emails to parents or athletes. Parents, share articles about specialization, the ride home, and why kids quit with your friends. Send your athlete an inspiring article. Clubs, you can share an article or two to prompt discussion prior to a board meeting or AGM.  You could create a series of articles sent, add it to your website, or create study tracks that are required as continuing education. The information is all here in a categorized and hyperlinked format. Feel free to get creative with how you use it, and let us know what you do and how it is working.

Finally, while most of these articles have been written by John O’Sullivan, we have received some outstanding guest contributions over the years, and we want to thank writers such as James Leath, Reed Maltbie, and others for sharing their work with us.


Good luck!

Top 5 Articles for Parents 

The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports

How Adults Take the Joy out of Sports (And How We Can Fix It)

Why Kids Quit Sports

Is It Wise To Specialize

The Ride Home

Top 5 Articles for Coaches 

Are Great Coaches Becoming an Endangered Species?

The Adultification of Youth Sports

The Missing Ingredient in Talent Development

Our Biggest Mistake Talent Selection Instead of Talent Identification

Youth Sports Coaching: Not a Job but a Calling

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When Will What We Know Change What We Do in Youth Sports?



“My daughter and I had to miss her grandfather’s funeral when she was 12 for a cheerleading competition.”

I had to read that twice to be sure what I was reading. This was an actual comment we received recently on Facebook. We receive a lot of heartbreaking stories from readers, but this one sentence stopped me in my tracks. The mere thought that the funeral of a parent would play second fiddle to a 12-year-old cheerleading competition simply boggles the mind.

We hear incredible tales of missed family events, as well as coaches ordering players to skip siblings weddings and other life events. We hear of injuries that used to only occur in college age players now occurring weekly in kids as young as age 12. We hear about families forced to choose between supporting their child’s emotional and psychological well-being or allowing them to continue playing high-level sports for an unaccountable, bully coach. But missing a funeral took the cake.

“When will what we know change what we do?”

This was a question posed on a call the other day with the Quality Coaching Collective, a first of its kind group of dynamic authors, speakers, researchers and coaches from across the globe that I am honored to be a part of. All of us on the call work everyday to shift the paradigm in youth sports and physical literacy. We work with organizations to make the changes to their mission, values, coaching and accountability to make sports more user friendly for the kids involved. The question we all ask ourselves is this:

Why doesn’t science, research and coaching best practices drive our youth sports model?

Sadly, it’s because youth sports and physical movement education have become, in far too many cases, more about the needs of the business of sport than the needs of the child in sport. When over 70% of kids quit sports before high school, it is their way of telling us that this model is not working for them.

It is time for what we know to change how we do things in youth sports.

We know that playing multiple sports and getting adequate rest and time off is a key component to preventing injury and burnout.(click here for American Society for Sports Medicine position statement). We also know that in many sports less specialization prior to the teenage years is a greater predictor of elite level performance. Sadly, what we do is continually force children to specialize far too young, increasing the dropout rate and resulting in an up to 70-90% higher injury rate according to this recent study by Neeru Jayanthi.

What we know is that autonomy, enjoyment and intrinsic motivation are critical components of long-term sport performance, according to researcher Joe Baker, author of the critically acclaimed book Developing Sport Expertise. What we do, all too often, is take these away from kids. We limit a child’s ability to try many sports by forcing him or her to choose one far too early. We focus on outcomes (did you win?) instead of enjoyment (are you having fun?). As a result we prevent kids from developing the intrinsic motivation to continually improve, and to be driven to succeed without us having to even ask.

What we know is that a coach’s words can leave a lasting impact on a young athlete. A coach’s influence is never neutral! We must be intentional about everything we say and do with kids. Sadly, what we all too often do is allow coaches to treat young athletes in a way that we would never allow a teacher to treat a child. We allow poorly trained and behaved coaches to continue to work with kids, even after numerous incidents of poor behavior, because they win a few games. We allow coaches who are demeaning under the guise of being demanding. And, as author Jennifer Fraser found in her great book Teaching Bullies, we even ostracize the children and parents who try and stand up to coaches who treat others poorly.

What we know is that no young athlete says “I love it when I can hear my dad yelling at the officials.” We know that the vast majority of kids, when asked “what would you like your parents to say on the sideline of your games, emphatically say “NOTHING!” What we do is attend our children’s games, coach them on every play (“Pass, shoot, hustle!”) and disrespect officials, often over inconsequential calls. Then we become outraged when children disrespect other authority figures in their lives and ponder “where did they learn that?” Spend a weekend on the sports field. Kids hear what we say, but they imitate what we do.

What we know is that research says the #1 reason athletes play is “FUN!” Though an 8-year old might have a different definition of fun (learning new things, being with my friends) than an 18-year-old (being pushed to be my best, high-intensity competition), they still speak to the importance of enjoyment. What we do too often is take the “play” out of playing sports, and say “we are here to work.” Kids don’t work sports; they play them.

What we know is that randomized, games-based learning promotes creativity, decision making, assessment and more transferability to competition. What far too many coaches still do, unfortunately, is promote blocked/massed practice, endlessly repeating the same technique over and over to “get our touches in.” It’s not that this doesn’t have some effect, simply that it’s about the least effective way to make use of your limited team training time.

What we know is that clubs who follow a proper athletic development model, and craft a mission statement and values focused on developing the person, not simply the athlete, will create more loyalty and greater player retention than those who do not. What we often see are organizations that pay lip service to child development and values, and do not hold parents, coaches and athletes accountable for upholding those values. What a huge abdication of responsibility and lost opportunity to really make an impact on kids.

What we know is that sport development is all about the process and long term focus. There are no overnight successes. Failure and adversity are all part of the process and focus on excellence. Sadly, what we do is operate out of fear. We get caught up in short term outcomes (did we win this weekend?) vs the focus on continuous improvement (what did we learn from losing that will help us get better?).

Finally, and most importantly, what we know is that what our children need most, after a tough game, is something to eat and to know that we love watching them compete and play. They don’t need a critical recap on the ride home. They don’t need their coach’s decisions questioned, or teammates criticized. Just love them, unconditionally, and take into account their state of mind before you offer up your thoughts on how to get better.

When will what we know change what we do?

How long can we keep ignoring the research and evidence on sporting best practices?

Change will happen when great parents and coaches stand up and build youth sport organizations and school programs that serve the needs of the kids. Change will happen when the silent majority take a stand against the vocal minority of adults who care more about the bottom line than the welfare of children.

Change will only happen one family, one club and one town at a time. As author Carl Safina writes, “one doesn’t wait for a revolution. One becomes it.”

Let’s align what we know and what we do. Our kids deserve it.

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