Everyone likes to win, but Lower Sussex Little League wants kids to have fun, regardless of the final score. LSLL is aiming to recapture the spirit of the game with a new program called Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).
“For any youth sport, it’s all about the double goal of coaching to win a game, but also coach in a positive manner,” said Tracy Littleton, president of Lower Sussex Little League.
All LSLL coaches will be required to complete the training in person or online. They will learn to teach, communicate and correct in a positive way.
“I think it’s going to, hopefully, change the atmosphere of our Little League. The goal is not to win at all costs,” said Littleton. “We’ve got kids who are out there to have fun. The goal is to make better ball players all around.”
Less than 1 percent of youth athletes will ever play past the high-school level, said Littleton. For these kids, sports are recreational, which means they should be fun.
“They’re not telling coaches we don’t want them to win,” Littleton clarified.
For instance, coaches teach players the “ELM” elements: make an Effort, keep Learning and don’t be afraid to make Mistakes. LSLL’s own Littleton and Todd Vickers took the course last year, learning many of these tips.
While LSLL expects teams to give all children as much playtime as possible, PCA is the first positive training method of its kind that LSLL has formally adopted. Right now, the training is just for coaches, but LSLL hopes parents will see the value in a positive playing atmosphere.
“I think if the people see the board making this effort to be more positive, you’ll see more kids coming back every year,” said Littleton. The positive attitude can spread from managers to players and parents.
He said there were some issues last year that served as a catalyst for LSLL to adopt PCA. Today, PCA will not solve every problem on the ball field, Littleton noted, but he said LSLL will make an effort to improve.
PCA is a Stanford University-based non-profit organization that promotes a positive, character-building youth sports experience. The Positivecoach.org Web site offers programs for children, parents, coaches and officials to continue learning and building skills. Training can apply to any sport, for all ages and for people who coach their own children. Littleton said he believes LSLL is the only local group using the Positive Coaching Alliance, but he believes other organizations will jump on soon.
Lower Sussex Little League will promote PCA at registration events on Saturdays, Feb. 2 and Feb. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon the LSLL park in Roxana. Additional registration dates will be on Wednesdays, Feb. 6 and Feb. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. Online registration is available now at www.lowersussexlittleleague.com.
A PCA representative will also address the crowds as opening day, Saturday, April 13.