Good Character

Character in Sports

Positive Coachiing Alliance


The material on this page was borrowed (with permission) from the Positive Coaching Alliance website.

Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is a nonprofit organization based at Stanford University with the mission to transform the culture of youth sports to give all young athletes the opportunity for a positive, character-building experience.


A Positive Coach is a "Double-Goal Coach." 

A win-at-all-cost coach has only one goal: to win.  He or she is concerned primarily with teaching skills and developing strategy designed to win games. 

A Positive Coach also wants to win but has a second goal: to help players develop positive character traits, so they can be successful in life.  Winning is important, but the second goal, helping players learn "life lessons," is more important.  A Positive Coach puts players first.


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There are three major elements to the "job description" of a Positive Coach.

A Positive Coach:

      Redefines "Winner"

      Fills Players’ Emotional Tanks

      Honors the Game



A Positive Coach helps players redefine what it means to be a winner by focusing on mastery rather than score. S/he sees victory as a by-product of the pursuit of excellence. S/he focuses on effort rather than outcome and on learning rather than comparison to others.

S/he recognizes that mistakes are an important and inevitable part of learning and fosters an environment in which players don't fear making mistakes. While not ignoring the teaching opportunities that mistakes present, s/he teaches players that a key to success is how one responds to mistakes.

S/he sets standards of continuous improvement for him/herself and the players. S/he encourages the players, whatever their level of ability, to strive to become the best players, and people, they can be.

S/he teaches players that a winner is someone who makes maximum effort, continues to learn and improve, and doesn’t let mistakes (or fear of mistakes) stop them.



A Positive Coach is a positive motivator who refuses to motivate through fear, intimidation, or shame. S/he recognizes that every player has an "Emotional Tank" like the gas tank of a car. Just as a car with an empty gas tank can’t go very far, a player with an empty emotional tank doesn't have the energy to do his/her best.

A Positive Coach understands that compliments, praise, and positive recognition fill Emotional Tanks. S/he understands the importance of giving truthful and specific feedback and resists the temptation to give praise that is not warranted. When correction is necessary, a Positive Coach communicates criticism to players in ways that don't undermine their sense of self-worth. A Positive Coach strives to achieve a 5:1 "Plus/Minus Ratio" of praise to correction.

A Positive Coach establishes order and maintains discipline in a positive manner. S/he listens to players and involves them in decisions that affect the team. S/he works to remain positive even when things aren't going well. S/he recognizes that it is often when things go wrong that a coach can have the most lasting impact and can teach the most important lessons. Even when facing adversity, s/he refuses to demean him/herself, the players, or the environment. S/he always treats athletes with respect, regardless of how well they perform.




A Positive Coach feels an obligation to the sport and teaches the players to Honor the Game. "Honoring the Game" means getting to the ROOTS of the matter, where ROOTS stands for respect for:

A Positive Coach upholds the spirit, as well as the letter, of its rules.

A Positive Coach respects opponents, recognizing that a worthy opponent will push the athletes to do their best.

A Positive Coach understands the important role that officials play and shows them respect, even when s/he disagrees with their calls.

A Positive Coach encourages players to make a commitment to each other and to encourage one another on and off the field. S/he values the rich tradition of the sport and feels privileged to participate.

A Positive Coach realizes that one of the most difficult times to Honor the Game is when the opponent is not, and s/he reminds the players to live up to their own highest standard (respect for self).

Ultimately, a Positive Coach demonstrates integrity and would rather lose than win by dishonoring the game.


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