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March 2016

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2 Great Books for “Youth Sport” Parents & Coaches

Written by , Posted in Blog, Lead Yourself, Your Family

When you become an adult, have some kids and blink twice, you might find yourself feeling chained behind the relentless demands of youth sports. Youth sports offers joy, but also danger. Whether you are a parent or coach, you owe it to yourself, your family and your team to develop wise guiding principles. I developed one chapter of my book to this topic, but I recommend two books that delve much deeper into the murky waters of youth sports: The Matheny Manifesto and Pathway to the Big Picture. 

Concussions ended Mike Matheny’s professional career, most of which he spent with the St. Louis Cardinals. He now coaches his former team, but before he accepted that job, he tackled a bigger one – coaching kids. When Matheny was asked to coach a youth team, he thought of all the things about youth sports that he disliked. He sketched out a firm list of what his demands of parents would be, if he were to coach. Those demands, founded in love, wisdom and experience, turned into his book. I think it’s a must-read for baseball coaches, but the principles can be applied to any sport. I guarantee that you’ll have some hunches confirmed, but you’ll also find some things you need to do completely opposite of how you have been doing them. The Matheny Manifesto was one of the best books I’ve read all year.

While Matheny’s book is geared more towards baseball coaches, John Blankenship’s book is geared towards basketball parents. Blankenship shares some foundational principles that every family should consider, regardless of the sport your kids play. This book was especially delightful because I know the author. When I was in Jr. High, he was a senior in high school. He played with a tireless tenacity and mental focus, but I most remember that he treated us younger kids well. I never saw him pout, throw a tantrum or yell at an official. It makes me glad to know he’s now a coach. We need more coaches like him.

Blankenship offers some priceless principles and questions. Let me share three of my favorites:

  • Is sports improving or weakening your relationship with your child?
  • You can’t give 110% tomorrow (it’s impossible), so you can’t afford to only give 90% today. You’ll never make up for it.
  • When you feel pain, never make a scene!

Both authors quote from, in my mind, the greatest coach to ever live. If you like learning from John Wooden, you’ll love both reads.

I’m a better coach and parent for reading both books. I hope you’ll do the same, and then buy an extra copy to give to other coaches or parents.

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