Salem Youth Soccer Association, Inc. 1-888-715-5592



To: SYSA Parents & Coaches

SYSA is committed to the principles of Positive Coaching and against a "win-at-all-cost mentality". A Positive Coach shares that goal (wants to win) but has a second goal that is even more important -- to use the sports experience to help young people learn "life lessons" and positive character traits that will help them be successful throughout their lives.

Help us promote the three Positive Coach themes that have the power to "transform youth sports so that sports can transform youth". The three themes are:

  1. Redefining "Winner"

In professional sports (which is entertainment), there is only one goal - to have the most points at the end of the contest. However, in youth sports (which is education), there is a more important goal: to produce young people who will be Winners in life.

To help our children get the most out of sports, we need to redefine what it means to be a "Winner". Here's what Winners do:

Remember the ELM Tree where ELM stands for Effort, Learning, and Mistakes.

If our athletes keep these things in mind, they will develop habits that will serve them well throughout their lives.

There is an added benefit. Athletes who are coached this way, tend to have reduced anxiety and increased self-confidence. And when athletes feel less anxiety, they are more likely to have fun playing their sport and do better!

Here's how you can help redefine what a Winner is:

  1. Tell your child about the ELM tree (Effort, Learning, Mistakes are part of learning, winning is secondary).

  2. Let your child know you appreciate it when he or she tries hard, even if unsuccessful.

  3. Ask rather than tell. Try to get your child to talk about his/her play rather than telling him/her what you think about it. Ask open-ended questions to get him/her to talk (e.g, "What was the best part of the game for you?").

  4. Recognize that improving oneself is hard work. Let the coaches critique your child's play. Tell your child you are proud of them regardless of the outcome of the game.

  1. Filling the "Emotional Tank"

Research shows that the home team wins about 60% of the time because of the positive emotional support a team receives when it plays in front of its own fans. We want our players to have a "portable" home team advantage that they can take wherever they go.

The key is their "Emotional Tank". Like gas tanks in cars, we all have "Emotional Tanks" that need to stay filled to do our best.

There will be times when you need to correct and criticize your child. You must use positive statements that fill their "Emotional Tank" and limit negative statements that can drain their ‘"Emotional Tank".

For example:

Negative language – "What do you think you were doing wrong there Katie?"

Positive language – "How do you think you could do that better Katie?"

Another effective technique is the "critique sandwich". You start with a positive statement, give the criticism and then follow with a positive statement.

For example:

"Wow, you have a powerful kick Johnny." "But, you need to use your laces instead of your toe, so you will get better control." "If you use your laces, you will have a powerful AND accurate kick!"

Here's how you can help fill your child’s Emotional Tank:

  1. Encourage your child, regardless of what happens in the game.

  2. Try not to give your child a lot of advice (which after a tough game can seem like criticism, which drains a person's emotional tank). Remember that it's difficult to do well with a low tank. When he or she makes a mistake, you might say, "Don't worry. Let's get the next one. You can do it."

  3. Use mostly Positive Statements.

  1. Use the "critique sandwich" technique explained above.

  1. Honoring the game

Sportsmanship may seem like an out-of-date concept today when professional athletes and coaches act in ways we would not want our children to imitate. We intend to avoid this trend in our league by "Honoring the Game".

Honoring the Game gets to the ROOTS of the matter, which stands for respect for:

Here's how you can help Honor the Game:

  1. Let your children know that you want them to honor the game. Discuss the meaning of each element of ROOTS with your child.

  2. Be a good role model. Honor the Game when you attend games. Cheer both teams when good plays are made. If, in your opinion, an officiating mistake is made, be silent! (Think about how difficult it is to officiate a game perfectly).

  3. Don’t yell instructions from the sidelines. Let the players play and coaches coach.

  4. Encourage other parents to Honor the Game.

For more information about Positive Coaching, visit: