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The Winning Coach

by Chuck Schumacher


I never lose. I either win, or learn.

Nelson Mandela

This is the wisdom that comes with experience. It’s the philosophy that every youth sports coach should embrace because it sets kids on an honest path to self-improvement by learning from failure, which ultimately is a recipe for success in life.

Positive Coaching Alliance’s Double-Goal Coach® Award presented by TeamSnap is given each year to 50 deserving coaches from across the country who embody this very philosophy. Those nominated for this prestigious award know that it’s important to teach kids how to win games, but also understand something that many do not: that the more important goal is teaching kids to win for their future. Ironically, when people view losing as a learning experience, the wins become more plentiful and their very character is elevated to even higher levels.

Coaches who take the more shallow approach of belittling their players when they lose, blaming umpires, disrespecting the opposing team or punishing players for errors are doing more harm than good. Even if they have a winning season on the field, it’s a loss for youth if teaching life lessons were not a top priority. By helping young minds build strong character, the Double-Goal Coach sets kids up for success later in life, long after their playing days are behind them.

The Double-Goal Coach award winners I have watched in panel discussions the last two years at PCA’s National Youth Sports Award Dinner presented by Deloitte are inspiring. They are fluent when talking about skill development and the work ethic necessary to achieve it. And the fact that they were nominated for this award, which represents the ability to teach life lessons, speaks to their outstanding character. These coaches are the real deal; winners in every aspect of the word!

Competition has a way of bringing out the darker side of people. This is why it’s so important that when we come across coaches who understand the value of staying positive with kids, we recognize, support, and encourage them to continue using their gifts to teach kids the realities of life through their chosen sport. Too many really good coaches are hanging it up because they have had it with the unrealistic, instant-gratification atmosphere in today’s youth sports.

The Double-Goal Coach Award raises awareness for the need of more coaches who see youth sports as a nurturing process for kids, not as a breeding ground for future big-leaguers. Training can be frustrating, and it takes a coach with unique abilities to keep kids interested while at the same time teaching the fundamental skills of the game, making it enjoyable, and teaching life lessons every step of the way.

By nominating those you see as a Double-Goal Coach, you are reinforcing the idea that as a society, we should resist the culture of over-training and recruiting young kids just so we can win games. Kids want to play sports because they think it’s going to be fun. And yes, they like to win. But it is the role and responsibility of a coach to model the principles of strong character, teach kids to honor the game, and give proper perspective when losing is the outcome.

Motivating, inspiring, encouraging, and teaching are the hallmarks of a Double-Goal Coach. More of these coaches are needed to ensure that kids will stay in sports and receive the great benefits of exercise, camaraderie, work ethic, competition and learning from failure. With 70 percent of kids quitting organized sports by age 13, many are not getting the chance to realize their full potential. Mental burnout and over-use injuries are at the top of the list for why kids drop out. This is what happens when a win-at-all-cost approach is taken.

“I never lose. I either win, or learn.” I’m not sure if Nelson Mandela ever coached youth sports, but if he had, I’m sure he would have been an excellent Double-Goal Coach.

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Chuck Schumacher is the author of “How to Play Baseball: A Parents Role in Their Child’s Journey,” available at (signed copy) or Amazon. Chuck has 20 years of experience as a youth baseball coach and 40 years of experience in martial arts. He is also a NASM certified personal trainer. In 2006, he opened Chuck’s Gym in Franklin, Tenn., where he teaches baseball and Okinawan karate.