The PCA Blog


Founder Jim Thompson Featured On The Leadership Podcast


The Leadership Podcast Co-hosts Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos interviewed Jim Thompson, our Founder and CEO, to learn how coaching and leadership development both depend on positive attention and natural consequences.  

Listen Now 

Key Takeaways FROM JIM 

[4:16] It took PCA about 15 years to boil our mission statement down to four words: “Better Athletes, Better People.” The 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 (the "Mallory Moment"), when Sara, who had hit a homerun, but injured her knee at first base, was carried around the bases by opposing players Mallory Holtman and her teammate. You will have your own Mallory moments when you can honor 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, one example might be: 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.

Key Quotes From The Podcast

“Connectedness is the most important. It’s the prerequisite. You don’t get commitment until people feel connected.”

“When our emotional tank is full, then we look at things as challenges rather than as problems.”

“Being a ‘noticer,’ is a key element of being an effective leader.”

“If you continue to compete, as a coach or as an athlete, you’re going to have an opportunity to elevate the game.”

“Psychological safety is an important part of creating a high-performance team.”

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