Youth Sports Think Tank 2019 Day One Review

Building Life Skills With Your Child Through Sport

The GO! Chase Excellence in Youth Sports Virtual Think Tank for 2019 began yesterday.

The Think Tank lasts for 10 days with sessions available until 30 April.

I belatedly got a chance to sit down and watch my first presentation today and have been inspired to post a daily summary and review of the Think Tank, focusing on one presentation that I have viewed in the last 24 hours.

Available with each session is a downloadable participant journal which will form the basis of these posts. The journal is presented in three sections.

  • What – What issues does this session address?
  • So What? – Why are these issues important?
  • Now What? – How can I address these issues or implement the ideas in this session?

Today’s Review

Today’s review is from the “Collaborate” track. This track is focused on engaging parents in more effective ways so they become collaborators in our culture.

The presentation I viewed was “Building Life Skills With Your Child Through Sport” and is presented by Gordon MacLelland.

Gordon is the CEO of Working With Parents in Sport.


This session urges parents to develop a realistic perspective as to why kids play sport and where it may take them. Parents are encouraged to avoid setting up an environment around the child that is entirely focused on the child becoming an elite performer. Rather it is suggested that sport is used to equip kids with positive character traits such as commitment and resilience that will serve them well through life. Parents can further facilitate this process by creating a culture at home that aligns with their child’s sporting experience. This involves creating opportunities for their child to develop positive character traits associated with their sport and celebrating these traits as much as possible when they are observed.

So What?

Many youth sports are currently experiencing plateauing or decreasing numbers. There is no doubt that part of this is due to adult agendas putting children into processes that they don’t necessarily want to be a part of.

If the main focus is on children becoming top performers, this is poor preparation for life and we are not making the most of the sporting journey.

Coaches, parents and sports organisations all have a role to play in turning this around.

Now What?

This presentation has inspired me to put even more effort into celebrating the positive character traits that I see in my own kids and the athletes that I coach.

I am also invigorated to do my part in providing leadership within my sport. I believe that youth sports organisations need to lead the way by “walking the talk” and be more aware of the signals that they are sending out. Even some very well-meaning sports unwittingly send mixed messages. Behaviours are too often not matching up with words and this needs highlighting. Despite mission statements and mottos espousing “development” the reality is that a lot of time, money, energy and attention is given to championships, competitive tournaments, representative teams and fixtures.

We need to change the default adult agenda away from wanting kids to become high performing athletes. A realistic acceptance that the kids are unlikely to “make it” will provide more space to focus on the personal benefits and growth that participation in sport can provide.

It is a small shift that makes a big difference.

Favourite Quotes From Presentation

“Children are not commodities.”

Further reading

Working With Parents In Sport website

How to Be an Awesome Sports Parent

How to Empower Young Athletes

For Best Results When Should Young Athletes Specialise?

If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.

20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Anchor or via email.

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