Three (3) ways to build relationships in youth sports teams

“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.” – John Wooden

Coaching has become an artful expression over the years. I think of a great artist like Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo and Ai Weiwei and Christo Claude in the current era; each of them with unique styles that have an impact on not only the world we live from a macro perspective but the artist industry itself. I view coaching the same way, the impact a coach has on a child can last a lifetime for a child, but also for the coaching industry itself.

Every coaching style has an opportunity to be successful, that success is based around building a foundation formed around relationships. Relationships can take a under-performing team and help them reach new heights or an incredibly talented team and create an atmosphere of negativity. As a coach, relationships are the life line of your team. Master this foundation and the opportunities are endless.

Below are three successful ways to incorporate relationships building tactics into youth sports teams.

  1. One on One time with players – Children benefit greatly from one on one time with the coach. Simple tactics as a quick 5-8 min check-in will help pave the way for a communication. This can come in the form of helping with skill development or just a simple “how are things going outside of the team” goes a long way
  2. Take an interest in classroom performance – Encouraging children to excel in the classroom goes along way with building relationships. Parents will support you on the court. Remember  parents, player and coach work together for success!!
  3. Everyone is a Leader – Giving every child an opportunity to lead is powerful when it comes to building relationships, Selecting a “captain for the day” is a great example to encourage leadership in every player.

Remember to check out The Book  Light Year Dreams: Becoming the Athlete, Building the Leader. Combine these tactics with Chapter 1 : Work Ethic Determines Performance. If there are any further questions regarding best practices in building relationships with players, please contact Christopher Mayshack @ christopherjmayshack@gmail.com. Thank you !

Unlocking The 3C’s in Coaching Relationships

 As we continue dive into our spring 2019 conversation series  5 Things Kids Want To Tell Parents about Team Sports   , today I wanted to discuss with you why coaching relationships matter in youth sports. Coaching has and will continue to be a talking point for parents, athletes and other coaches.  The youth sports coach, whether it be in the earliest years of recreation basketball to 17U AAU, will continue to be more criticized than your neighborhood school teacher, your local councilman or community police officers. We love our sports, especially when it comes to our children. So its easy to create a need to trample a coach with unfair expectations. We see it across all sports, there is a need to make sure the right coach is in place to ensure our child will be successful in the sport. I am of the belief that if we are going to consistently put our coaches on the hot seat, than maybe it’s time we look at how we view whether a coach is the right fit to serve our children. As a former youth coach and current college coach, I believe there are a few metrics we should be using to judge the value of a good coach.  I offer a few things to think about when we talk about the coach to player relationship (C2P):

3 C’s Conceptual Model of Coaching

(Jowett & Cockerill, 2002;
Jowett & Ntoumanis, in press).

Closeness – Coaches and Athletes must create a connection to each other in the form of a bond in order to unleash the power of this relationship. While is true that a coach will not have to same closeness with all his players, it is also true that coaching without a relationship is not a meaningful and beneficial relationship for all parties involved. When there is a bond missing between a player and coach, coaches should seek to build a relationship with parents to offer a better insight on the athlete. Parents should without judgement offer up ways for the coach to build that relationship with him.
Commitment reflects coaches and athletes’
intention or desire to maintain their athletic
partnership consistently over time; Children respond more favorably to a coach that over time has been more consistent with his or her coaching tactics, praise and criticism. For the Coach, that is not consistently at practice or has failed to develop a consistent pattern of coaching will be critique by that athlete to a point where the coaching will not be received. This part of the coaching relationship is a cognitive representation of connection between the
coach and the athlete. THE MORE TIME YOU SPEND COACHING A KID, THE MORE INFORMATION THEY WILL TAKE IN AND APPLY OVER TIME. It’s the psychological connection that manifest with consistent exposure to information between sender and receiver.

Complementarity defines the interaction
between the coach and the athlete that is
perceived as cooperative and effective.  I use the Positive Negative Positive (PNP) method when working with kids. You can start off with what they did well which usually results in them opening up and then give them ideas about how to improve their performance and then leave on the conversation on a positive note. Complementarity reflects the affiliation motivation of interpersonal behaviors and includes behavioral properties, such as being
responsive, friendly, at ease and willing. This makes the C2P relationship one that goes back and forth. I know with my players I make it an effort to joke and play with them and find unique ways to put in coaching points. Moreover, it’s about finding opportune times to switch roles from sender to receiver when it comes to communication. Let the player give his or her  perspective on what’s going on in the field.  This creates that productive back and forth line of communication that allows coaches and players to be successful.

Coaching is all about unlocking the power of relationships in order unlock the potential of players. Using practice time and activities outside of practice are the best times to make this happen. Come back to my page in the following weeks as we discuss goal setting and how to create pathways for students to be successful.

By: Christopher Mayshack

An author of children’s book titled Light Year Dreams – Becoming the Athlete, Building The Leader    , former college athlete and current college basketball coach.  He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and son Carter. Please visit the website  Here.   Find him on twitter  @CoachMayshack

5 Things Kids Want To Tell Parents about Team Sports

I know you guys are thinking , “Tell me something I don’t know” as many of you parents know, communication with your young child  or teenager can be a daunting task in the social media world. We have given up on the face to face connection that we were raised with in the past for the cell phone replacing the spoon in the utensil line at the dinner table… As I talk with most of the kids who I coach or teach in may classroom, I speak about ” The words that were never said”, speaking about the importance of concentrating on the little things when It comes to communication. Key points, how you begin a conversation, how you receive advice. These things are essential in building those relationships with kids. Bad practices in youth sports both as a coach and/or parent help create a negative outlook for children.  Common negative habits include:

  • Children who lack necessary development of interpersonal skills
  • Fear of playing sports in the public setting
  • Anxiety about attending practice
  • Lack of personal motivation
  • Lack of Confidence in personal decisionsBasketball

This brings me to the 5 things I think kids have a hard time communicating with parents about when it comes to participating in team sports.

“I want to be in an environment where I have a really good relationship with the coach”


Coaching is important in youth sports…Period.  Beyond the fact that most youth coaches are not trained in sports and skill tactics of the game, youth sports coaches need to understand the importance of relationship building with children. “The coach–athlete relationship is embedded in the dynamic and complex coaching process and provides the means by which coaches’ and athletes’ needs are expressed and fulfilled (Jowett & Cockerill, 2002). “It is at the heart of achievement and the mastery of personal qualities such as leadership, determination, confidence and self-reliance.” I can tell you from experience as a Division II Coach, Junior College Coach, High School Head Coach, relationships are the foundation of success in youth sports. As a Coach, this year in which my team won a regional championship and finished the year 22-6. In talking with players in exit interviews, we heard statement like ” This is the best year I’ve had since I’ve been playing basketball”. “I love you too coach”I can tell you this is a direct reflection of our coaching staff’s commitment to servanthood and being mentor to the guys we work with. Its about relationships in sports ….

“I actually like being on a team where I’m being challenged to learn about myself, my teammates and game I play”

“Social and interpersonal skills help youth accurately interpret the behavior of others. The set of skills includes interacting positively with peers and adults and effectively navigating social situations. Social and interpersonal skills build on emotional competencies. Children must be able to use these skills effectively in order to contribute to a team, resolve disagreements and coexist peacefully with others” . In my experience in sports, I learned about how to connect with people. The shy kid that doesn’t look at people when he speaks, doesn’t speak up when he has questions in the classroom and doesn’t look like he is having fun around others; that kid has a great opportunity to practice developing those skills at an early age in sports. The right learning environment has four (4) essential principles :

1.Environment where coaches and parents continually let their child know they believe in them

2. Team culture where honest feedback is accepted and practiced

3. A program where coaches are always eager to learn as well

4. Bandwidth for athletes to make mistakes

Image result for african american coach

“I lose concentration on the game when I hear you arguing in the stands”

Parents can unknowingly create a stressful sports environment by placing an emphasis on success  through winning and individual statistics rather than a positive experience through personal growth in youth sports.  Many times Parents shouting from the sidelines mistake this for encouragement and support, its more likely to put a stress on the team, your child and the coach.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Parents have the unique power to help aid in facilitating  a positive sport experience when they focus and motivating kids to achieve goals that are related to improving skill.

“These valuable skills learned from sport have also been shown to transfer and facilitate development in other areas of life, such as school and extra-curricular activities (Jones & Lavallee, 2009). This skill transfer is more effective when the child has a greater self-awareness of their own life skills. Therefore, parents can further assist skill development by encouraging their children to think about what skills they are gaining from sport.”

“Start talking to me now about my dreams and how I can turn them into goals”

Young athletes grow skills sets in environments where goals are process driven. Athletes need over-arching main goals but they also need smaller goals that lead up to the big goals.  It very encouraging for parents to support their children and the dreams they have, I would offer this piece of advice… Write the Goal, Create Pathways to Achieve the Goal, Re-work the Goal.  Providing alternative pathways to achieve those goals keep children motivated to reach the finish line. In the early stages of competitive sports, your child’s goal should be based on improving  a ridge range of skill sets, think bandwidth versus depth. As they become older they should be working to improve on skill sets with a specific target goal to accomplish. I would offer this advice, Realize that your child would actually benefit from goals outside of sports. Its positive to offer up academic goals that work in concert with athletic goals as well.

“Hold me accountable for my off the court decisions as well as my on the court decisions”

In general , parents should never be told how to instruct their kids when it comes to their own personal goals; However it should be know that the positive coaching alliance states the following as it relates to building successful habits in youth sports:

  1. Reinforce the behavior you want
  2. Ignore the behavior you don’t want
  3. When you can’t ignore the behavior you don’t want, intervene in a ‘least-attention’ manner.

Number 2 & 3  seem the to be the biggest challenges for most parents to understand. We all were raised a different way, taught to complete task a different way so being able to be flexible with our learning takes time and a consistent effort. “When certain kids learn that their misbehavior gets the attention of their parents, teachers and coaches, they start to believe that this is the only way they can get attention.” ”The Discipline of Three C’s The experts at PCA advocate a concept of ‘the discipline of three C’s’ – Calmness, Consequences and Consistency. Coaches should promote an environment that operates with calmness, have a plan in place that has consequences for each action that is a distraction to the team. Providing consistency  is what every child needs to be successful, no matter if they are 5 years old or an impatient 17 year old, every child wants structure.

Image result for african american coach


What are your next step actions? How are you planning to have the conversation with your child? The coach of your son/daughter ‘s team? It starts with promoting an environment at home where children have an optimistic outlook when it comes to participating in sports.




  • Jowett, S. & Cockerill, I.M. (2002). Incompatibility in the coach–athlete relationship. In I.M. Cockerill (Ed.) Solutions in sport psychology (pp.16–31). London: Thomson Learning.
  • The Influence of parents in youth sport. Mary Quinton, 2016
  • https://www.playinfo.org/news_article/show/234218

By: Christopher Mayshack

An author of children’s book titled Light Year Dreams – Becoming the Athlete, Building The Leader    , former college athlete and current college basketball coach.  He lives in Washington, DC with his wife.  Please visit the website  Here.   Find him on twitter  @CoachMayshack

The Strength of a Champion, created from a Well of Weaknesses…

“Everything I’m not, makes me everything I am”… Kanye West

It sounds silly to think about this, but are we fully aware of what we are good at when we are born? I mean think of this as a one of the most important superhero traits we can have. The ability to quickly identify our weaknesses. This would change everything, how we train for a competition, how we can align our own personal strenghts with a career we would be best to work in. Now that would make life sweet!!!, or would it?!?!

Think about the Shaquem Griffin story from this year’s NFL Draft. If he would have known that he was going to the draft even in spite of his disability, would he have worked as hard as he did? Would have given it his all? Would you know who Shaquem Griffin is ?… I don’t think so, it goes back to the Kanye verse ( Don’t judge me lol), “everything I’m not , makes me everything I am”. These challenges are some how apart of our drive for success. Griffin was born without a solid hand ( amniotic band syndrome-a congenital disorder that constricts the appendages, including fingers and toes.) Should this have forced Shaquem to sit on the sidelines?!? (He would have never got to play with his brother in the NFL or get a nike contract… The take away is this…… Your weaknesses are what make you strong, never hide or run away from that…

Last week I read an article about Marcus Mariota and his work with the special Olympics(Marcus Mariota – Special Olympics ). Mariota stayed at the camp until every child caught a pass from him. He didn’t attempt to make it easy and throw a five foot pass to make sure the kid caught the ball. He didn’t quit on the kids and try to run out there early after his time was over. He made it clear that he wasn’t going to let a handicap dictate success for a child. Again, everything I’m not, makes me everything I am… Mariota showed us what every parent should look for in a coach, a person who build the strength of champion based on the a well of weaknesses.


I leave with the verse from 1 Peter 4:10

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”


Chris Mayshack
M.S. Sports Administration
Certified USA Youth Basketball Coach – License #41783596

Youth Sports Funding – What’s next ?

Youth Sports – AR-15’s as tool for Fundraising!

Yesterday, I read an article from espn about a youth sports league in OHIO that uses AR-15 rifles are used as a tool to fundraisers for the East Canton Youth Baseball League.  One element of this story appeals to my business side. I find it interesting that sports organizations in these turbulent times use weapons that cause nothing but harm to others as tool to fund activities for youth. I look at the Florida School Shooting and found myself taken back that the same weapon used to kill 17 people are the ones being sold to fund sports activities. I truly want to get some opinions of people who have read this article as a I seek a better understanding.

Question to parents:

Recognizing the importance of leadership in youth development, what positive coaching practices would you as a parent like to see in Youth Sports Programs?

As a youth sports professional, I value the relationships with community. I would like to get the thoughts of parents, your comments are valued and I look forward to discussing the topic of leadership in youth sports.

Thank youContinue reading “Youth Sports Funding – What’s next ?”

From the Classroom to the Boardroom…With a little help from Sports…

“I realized if you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you can change enough communities you can change the world” – Erin Gruwell


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It was 9:00am on this past Saturday, and I had some free time to sit back and think to how I got here in the first place. It was a boardroom where I signed on to do consulting work  with FLYE Inc.- a non-profit dedicated to teaching student-athletes about business through sports. This is the type of position I have wanted my entire life. A position where I could make an impact of undeserved children. I sat there quietly as a waited for the meeting to start and I realized ” I’m here because of sports, everything that I have learned, I got it from a specific experience related to sport.”

The court or field is an extension of the classroom

In the beginning, the classroom version of Chris was different from the Chris that people know on the court. I had very little to any teachers that took a personal interest in me, let alone motivated me to excel. That desire came from sport, the ultimate teacher of life. While I realize my experience is different from others I do recognize that everything we are in the classroom is an extension onto the court. How we learn, what questions we ask, are we even vocal; these are things we learn in the classroom that show on the court. So the best thing that happened to me was the opportunity to play sports at a high level. Some of those sessions in the film room help prepare me for the boardroom.

Use your powers for good…

As a coach and former athlete, its important to show the next generation the power of self. Athletes develop so many skill sets through participation in sports. Teamwork, Communication, Leadership are just a few skills sets you develop over time through constant repetition. I encourage parents, grandparents, teachers; push the next generation to get into sports. There are many benefits!!!

Christopher Mayshack



Reason – Defining the “why” for our athletes takes creativity…

“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning” C.S. Lewis


Over the past week I have talked about the power of relationships in sports. I explained the importance of getting to know player off the court. I have talked about teaching resiliency in sports. This involves encouragement, remembering the good times and going back to the overall goal. The final post in this part 3 synopsis talks about Reason. Ordinarily, we use reason as a part of our discourse on a daily basis. We must provide a reason for not arriving at work on time, a reason for not taking the trash out in the form of chore. This comes in the form of an explanation or justification for doing something.  I find that in many peoples lives, reason gives us the order to take action. Coaching edition of reason involves defining purpose.


 In coaching reason is a big part of what we do. Its how we develop our winning culture, it impacts how we play the game, it serves as a teaching lesson at times. I have to ask the tough question:

Are we really giving each athlete the “why we do the things we do on this team” in sports?

Finding the why in sports helps with player engagement,  builds competitiveness and creates an environment for learning. But it simply takes creativity to make this process fun.

It starts with the following dialogue between player and coach. Imagine this… its mid-season and you are in a conference game. Player A is not performing at a high level. With the game on the line you opt to take him out, Player gets subbed out of a game. He confused as to why he was taken out of the game.

Coach: What do you see out there?

Player: I don’t know?

Fast forward to the next day at practice. Player looks lost and the coach stops play:

Coach: What are you doing out there? You look Lost!!!


Right here is a great teaching point. How can we help this player or any player succeed at this moment? How we practice is a direct reflection of game performance.


Have we looked at how the following ideas help players find the “why”

  1. Game within a game– Teaching our players to find the game within the game is a key tactic. Players need goals, encouraging them to be competitive even in drill will create that atmosphere.
  2. Think about goals everyday– A constant reminder of team goals are essential for success, this idea reverts back to Resiliency. Remembering the goals. Have each player right down goals for the day.
  3. Visualize moments of success– Sounds crazy but there is something about visualizing what you plan to do for the day.

I hope this 3 part series gives you talking points on the road to success. Take a look at  The Website as we continue to dive into what coaching truly means for today’s athlete.   For those that purchase The Book : Light Year Dreams , Chapter 3 – Character Wins is great read for young athletes and a great talking point for coaches. With all chapters, I think using this as a talking point for further conversation is always a plus.  Contact Us is great way to get any questions answered on how to implement these best practices with your teams or coaches.  Thanks

Christopher J. Mayshack

Resiliency – Teaching your team to stay together even through the tough times

“Education come from within; you get it from struggle, effort and thought” Napoleon Hill

Many of us coaches, players and fans are not enjoying a winning season this year. To be honest, we all hate losing, its not fun, practices are not fun and its an experience that divides us.

Many life lessons are learned on the playing field for many. One of my favorite lessons I enjoy talking about is Resiliency.

Resiliency – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Coaching requires that we constantly inspire each player to learn from experiences, players call it wins and losses, as a coaches we must employ our players to view this as much more than a record…It’s an opportunity to build on each game, each moment and turn it into a teachable moment. IMG-1706

The equation is simple : Resiliency > Wins/Losses

Teaching our kids to recover from difficulties are more important then teaching them only to do things for the purpose of winning. I offer the following ways to encourage resiliency in sports.

  1. Create an environment of positivity – In the locker room, on the wall, in the meeting room find ways to players to visualize success. Images of past workouts in the preseason, images famous player quotes, Post players/team goals for the season. Remind them of the work they put during the preseason, remind them of purpose and inspire them to find that feeling again.
  2. Remind them of the team pillars of success – Remind your players of the foundation of your team. Find core words that epitomize what your program stands for and hold them to the standard. Encourage them to write down their own personal pillars of success along with their goals. Have them present this to the team and ask for an accountability partner to hold them to their own standard.
  3. Stay together even in good wins and terrible losses – Remind your guys of the highs and lows of a season, remind them of staying the course.

Find ways to remind them of greatness!! The first blog of the year was dedicated to building relationships, this one to finding moments to teach resiliency, the next one with incorporate reason.

Look forward to discussing how finding the why makes all the difference.

please visit lightyeardreams.wordpress.com to find out how to build the next generation of leaders through sports.

Christopher J. Mayshack, M.S.



Labor of Love : Picking up where others left off

Elwood, Tyrone and Dorian at our AAU Tournament

“The work done by freemen comes cheaper in the end than that performed by slaves.” Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

In today’s world, freedom is a word we use a lot to describe many of our lives. But how many of us really have the mindset to live out our lives the way we want to?!?!?

As I look back at my working career I spent a lot of time living the dream of someone else, believing what someone told me was “the life”, but its only with time and the experience that we can truly see what out passions are. As a corporate america guy, who tried to live that other life, I witness many co-workers, superivisor and clients who talked about what they wish they could do in their lives. It wasn’t til November of 2014 when I lost my job I realized that life moves on, keeps going while you stand still and choose to dream about the job you want or the life you want. It takes courage to live out your life the way you want it to be.

I recognized that labor of love this past weekend with the great group of kids I coach with the Atlanta Clippers AAU team. This past weekend I realized that same labor of love was put into my life from Ed Boyd with the hawks little league baseball team in durham, Eric Brown with the triangle knights, or Coach Basnight at brogden middle school.  People who decided to take action and make an impact wherever they could in a kids life. I truly believe that once you take the first step to make a difference in this world, you will one day be truly free. Mine is invested in kids, I encourage you to find yours.

I encourage people in community to give to children, especially in the form of coaching, no matter what your situation is , whether you feel that you aren’t good enough to be a role model, just know that you are already. You look like that kid, come from the same place, had the same experiences. You can make a difference.

As for the quote, I believe that once you do things in your life for the service of others, once you make the choice to stand for something near your heart , you will become free in the heart and mind , and thats what living this life is about. It cost nothing to be who you are and change things.  All you have to do is take action!!!!!!

#LYD #Lyter