Dec 21, 2016
Co-hosts Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos interview
Jim Thompson, Founder and CEO of the Positive Coaching Alliance.
Jim is focused on how to get the best from people, especially young
athletes, through the teachable moments. Jim started PCA, a
national nonprofit organization, in 1998 to transform the culture
of youth sports into a Development Zone™ with the goal to develop
Better Athletes, Better People. Jan and Jim talk with Jim Thompson
about his background with youth, ways that coaching youth sports
can build children into better adults, how positivity turns a
mistake into an opportunity to improve effort, and what
triple-impact competitors can contribute to your organization.
Listen in to learn how sports coaching, and
leadership development, both depend on positive attention and
[4:16] It took PCA about 15 years to boil their
mission statement down to four words: “Better Athletes, Better
People.” Their model of the double-goal coach is winning on the
scoreboard, and using sports to teach life lessons.
[5:14] Youth athletes, to have a great experience,
need to feel connected to their coach and teammates, need to
believe that they can improve their performance, and need to know
they are part of an organization that does things the right way,
that they can feel proud of.
[7:19] Jim tells of his journey, starting as a
teacher’s aide for emotionally disturbed, behavior problem kids in
St. Paul, MN, under the mentorship of great educators. Very
troubled kids were taught with a relentlessly positive approach,
every good action receiving positive reinforcement.
[9:21] Jim found out while coaching his son’s teams,
that a relentlessly positive approach with the kids caused them to
perform really well. They had more fun, they were more aggressive;
and even other parents wanted their children to be on his teams for
the next year.
[13:29] Jim shares the Sara Tucholsky and Mallory
Holtman softball story, when Sara, who had hit a homerun, but
injured her knee at first base, was carried around the bases by
opposing players Mallory and a teammate. You will have your own
Mallory moments, when you can elevate the game.
[16:49] PCA takes insights from academia and great
coaches, and turns them into tools that anyone can use. One of
their powerful tools is the mistake ritual. When a player makes a
mistake, everyone calls out: Don’t worry about it, we’ll get the
next one, brush it off! That helps the player focus back on the
game, and drop the negative self-talk.
[30:30] Difficult conversations are needed. You want
to be a noticer of effort and improvement, but you want the very
best performer on the job. Making mistakes is part of the game, A
lack of effort to improve is when you want to have that difficult
conversation. Even that conversation can be done in a positive way
that will build people up.
[33:41] PCA training includes a session where the
trainer says, name your first teacher in school. About 50% can
remember their name. Then the trainer asks, what’s the name of the
first coach you ever had? Almost everyone remembers.
[36:24] The number one lesson from sports psychology:
Focus on what you can control, and ignore what you can’t control.
This takes mindfulness. Focus on the process. Be positive.
[41:00] Help every player to identify their best
self, and make a commitment to be their best self. The
triple-impact competitor works hard to make themselves better, the
people around them better, and the game better. Coaches help the
players to become better persons.
Books Mentioned on the Show
Positive Coaching: Building Character and Self-esteem Through
Sports, by Jim Thompson
The Double-Goal Coach: Positive Coaching Tools for Honoring the
Game and Developing Winners in Sports and Life, by Jim
Shooting in the Dark: Tales of Coaching and Leadership, by
Elevating Your Game: Becoming a Triple-Impact Competitor,
by Jim Thompson
Developing Better Athletes, Better People: A Leader's Guide to
Transforming High School and Youth Sports into a Development
Zone, by Jim Thompson
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life,
by Martin P.E. Seligman, Ph.D.
Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That
Will Change Your Life,
by Barbara Fredrickson
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by
Daniel H. Pink
Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell,
Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition, by
Harvey B. MacKay
An Ashoka fellow, Jim Thompson and PCA received the
inaugural ETHOS Award from the Institute for Sports Law and Ethics
(ISLE) in 2013 and he is now on the ISLE Board. He is on Stanford's
Continuing Studies Program faculty where he teaches courses in
coaching, leadership, and sport & spiritually. He and his wife,
Sandra Hietala, are founding board members of Recovery Café San
José, a healing community for individuals with mental illness and
drug abuse issues.
Positive Coaching Association (PCA) is a thriving nation-wide
organization with 14 chapters, and an expansion plan to reach 20
million youth athletes by 2020. PCA’s vision has attracted the
support and involvement of many elite coaches, athletes, academics,
and business leaders in this country. Jim 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,
Website: Development Zone