About PCA

Positive Coaching Alliance was established at Stanford University in 1998.  PCA believes that winning is a goal in youth sports but that there is a second, more important goal of using sports to teach life lessons through positive coaching.

In the United States, youth are dropping out of sports at an alarming rate. A major contributing factor is the "win at all cost" mentality of many parents and coaches that creates a pressure filled environment for the kids and ultimately turns them away from sports. According to Michigan State University's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, children participating in organized sports tend to achieve higher results in school, develop excellent interpersonal skills and lead healthier lives. 

Positive Coachin Alliance
Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) provides live, research-based training workshops and practical tools for coaches, parents and leaders who operate youth sports programs to get them on the same page about what it means to Honor the Game. Positive Coaching Alliance educates adults who shape the youth sports experience by offering partnership programs with YSO's, schools, cities and national sports governing bodies.  PCA also provides corporations with the opportunity to offer sports parent workshops to their employees.

Roadmap to Excellence


Roadmap to Excellence

The goal of Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is to create a movement to transform youth sports. This will require change at all levels of society by "change agents" who will help make that change happen in their spheres of influence.
PCA has developed "Standards of Excellence" for youth sports organizations (YSO) that aspire to be outstanding "educational-athletic" organizations. There are six elements:

  1. This "Road Map to Excellence" is intended to help you become a change agent, so Positive Coaching will become the norm in youth sports. We need individuals like you to make your organization one that promotes and reinforces positive coaching rather than the win-at-all-cost model of coaching that is polluting youth sports.
  2. For YSO leaders and board members, this Road Map can help you implement the Standards of Excellence. It also can help parents and coaches begin a conversation with the leaders of their YSO. The important thing is to begin talking about these things because action that results in cultural change rarely comes without a great deal of talk, with conversations at many levels. So let the conversations begin; start talking about the elements of this Road Map to Excellence and help us "transform youth sports so sports can transform youth."

Honer The Game


Many people talk about "sportsmanship," or what it means to be a "good sport." What does it mean to you to be a good sport? Answers to this question vary widely. Sadly, PCA has even heard stories of coaches telling their teams that if they win the Sportsmanship Award at a tournament, they will spend the entire following week conditioning! Why might a coach say this? Unfortunately, many coaches equate being a good sport with being soft or weak.

We honor the game.PCA believes the time has come to unite behind a powerful new term, "Honoring the Game." Coaches, parents, and athletes need to realize that an Honoring the Game perspective needs to replace the common win-at-all-cost perspective. If a coach and his or her team have to dishonor the game to win it, what is this victory really worth, and what sort of message is this sending young athletes?

If Honoring the Game is to become the youth sports standard, it needs a clear definition. At PCA we say that Honoring the Game goes to the "ROOTS" of positive play. Each letter in ROOTS stands for an important part of the game that we must respect. The R stands for Rules. The first O is for Opponents. The next O is for Officials. T is for Teammates, and the S is for Self.

R is for Rules
Rules allow us to keep the game fair. If we win by ignoring or violating the rules, what is the value of our victory? PCA believes that honoring the letter AND the spirit of the rule is important.

O is for Opponents
Without an opponent, there would be no competition. Rather than demeaning a strong opponent, we need to honor strong opponents because they challenge us to do our best. Athletes can be both fierce and friendly during the same competition (in one moment giving everything to get to a loose ball, and in the next moment helping an opponent up). Coaches showing respect for opposing coaches and players sets the tone for the rest of the team.

O is for Officials
Respecting officials, even when we disagree with their calls, may be the toughest part of Honoring the Game. We must remember that officials are not perfect (just like coaches, athletes and parents!). Take time to think about how to best approach an official when you want to discuss a call. What strategies do you have to keep yourself in control when you start to get upset with officials" calls? We must remember that the loss of officials (and finding enough in the first place) is a major problem in most youth sports organizations, and we can confront this problem by consistently respecting officials.

T is for Teammates
It"s easy for young athletes to think solely about their own performance, but we want athletes to realize that being part of a team requires thinking about and respecting one"s teammates. This respect needs to carry beyond the field/gym/track/pool into the classroom and social settings. Athletes need to be reminded that their conduct away from practices and games will reflect back on their teammates and the league, club, or school.

S is for Self
Athletes should be encouraged to live up to their own highest personal standard of Honoring the Game, even when their opponents are not. Athletes" respect for themselves and their own standards must come first.

Having this definition of Honoring the Game (HTG) is a start. To make Honoring the Game the youth sports standard, coaches, leaders, and parents need to discuss HTG with their athletes. Coaches need to practice it with their athletes (i.e. have players officiate at practice). And perhaps most importantly, all adults in the youth sports setting (coaches, leaders, parents, officials, and fans) need to model it. If these adults Honor the Game, the athletes will too.

Coaching Tools


Coaching Tools

Parent Letter Download this letter for parents that you can send out right before the start of your season.

Parent Pledge Download this pledge for parents to sign before the season starts.

Positive Charting Click here to learn about how to use Positive Charting during your games.

Coaching Scripts These scripts help you introduce Honoring the Game, Redefining "Winner," and Filling the Emotional Tank to your players.

The Positive Coach's Bookshelf Check out these great books on positive coaching and related books by members of the PCA Advisory Committee.

Parent Tools


Sports Parent Tools

Guidelines for a Coach-Parent Partnership Check out these PCA tips on how you can best support and work with your child"s coach(es).

Empowering Conversations Get ideas about how to talk with your child about his or her sports experience (even after a tough loss).

Sports Parent Guidelines for Honoring the Game Gain insight into how you, as a parent, can contribute to an "Honor the Game" culture.

The Positive Coach's Bookshelf Check out these great books on positive coaching and related books by members of the PCA National Advisory Board.