Building the sport of lacrosse in Belmont, Massachusetts

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Dear Parents,

The coaches and directors of the Belmont Youth Lacrosse program (BYL) are committed to the principles of Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) and against a "win-at-all-cost" mentality. PCA calls a Positive Coach a “Double-Goal Coach.” A win-at-all-cost coach has only one goal--to win. 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.
 We ask that the parents help us promote the three PCA themes, which have the power to transform youth sports, so that sports can transform youth. The three themes, which are explained below, are:
1) Redefining “Winner,”
2) Filling the Emotional Tank, and
3) Honoring the Game.
1) Redefining “Winner”
In professional sports (which is entertainment), there is only one goal—to have the most points at the end of a contest. However, in youth sports (which is education), there is a second goal: to produce young people who will be winners in life.
 To help our children get the most out of competitive sports, we need to redefine what it means to be a "winner." Here’s what winners do:
• Make maximum effort.
• Continue to learn and improve.
• Refuse to let mistakes (or fear of making mistakes) stop them.
This is called a Mastery Orientation. PCA says that the Tree of Mastery is an ELM Tree, where ELM stands for Effort, Learning, and Mistakes. If our athletes keep these things in mind, they will develop habits that will continue to serve them well throughout their lives.
 There is an added benefit. Athletes who are coached with a Mastery Orientation tend to have reduced anxiety and increased self-confidence. And when athletes feel less anxiety, they are more likely to have fun playing sports and tend to do better.

Here’s how you can help:
 1) Explain the ELM Tree of Mastery to your child. 
 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 or her play rather than telling them what you think about it. Ask open-ended questions to get him or her to talk (e.g., "What was the best part of the game for you?")
 4) Recognize that Mastery is hard work. Let the coaches criticize your child's play. Tell your child you are proud of him or her regardless of the outcome of the game.
 2) Filling the "Emotional Tank"Research shows that the home team wins about 60% of the time; in part because of the emotional support a team receives when it plays in front of its own fans. We want our players to have a portablehome team advantage that they can take wherever they go.
 The key is the “Emotional Tank.” Like gas tanks in cars, we all have Emotional Tanks that need to be filled to do our best.
 There will be times when you need to correct and criticize your child, but research has shown that a “Magic Ratio" of 5:1 (praise to criticism) is ideal. When the ratio drops much below 5:1, children become discouraged (their tanks become drained). Help us achieve this Magic Ratio with your child.
Here’s how you can help:
 1) Your #1 job is to fill your child's Emotional Tank. Provide your child with encouragement regardless of what happens in the game.
 2) Try not to give your child a lot of advice. Too much advice, especially after a tough game can seem like criticism, which drains a person’s tank. Remember, 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.” After tough losses, it's often helpful to acknowledge feelings of disappointment. For example, you might say, "I can imagine you must be disappointed to have lost."
 3) Use the “3-Pluses-and-a-Wish” technique. Before you give advice, find three good things about your child's performance. Phrase the advice as a wish. For example, you might say:
• You really tried hard in the game today (Plus #1).
• I also saw you supporting your teammate after he made a mistake (Plus #2).
• And that play you made toward the end of the game shows how much you are improving (Plus #3).
• I wish you wouldn’t get down on yourself when you make a mistake.
If you can’t come up with three pluses, don’t say the wish because then it may drain his emotional tank rather than fill it.
 4) Remember the Magic Ratio. Praise your child about 5 times for every time you criticize. If you do, he or she will be better able to hear your criticism without becoming defensive.

 3) 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 reverse this trend in our league by “Honoring the Game.”
 Honoring the game gets to the ROOTS of the matter, where ROOTS stands for respect for:
Teammates, and one's
  • Rules: We don't bend the rules to win. We respect the letter and spirit of the rules.
  • Opponents: A worthy opponent is a gift that forces us to play to our highest potential.
                          We try our hardest to win, but not at the expense of demeaning our opponents.
  • Officials: We treat officials with respect even when we disagree.
  • Teammates: We never do anything that would embarrass our team.
  • Self: We try to live up to our own standards regardless of what others do.
Here’s how you can help:
 1) Let your children know that you want them to honor the game. Discuss the meaning of each element of ROOTS with them.
 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, please be silent. Use this as an opportunity to think about how difficult it is to officiate a game perfectly.
 3) Encourage other parents to honor the game.
 The coaches and directors of the Belmont Youth Lacrosse program are looking forward to another successful season this Spring. We appreciate your support of the BYL and hope you will help us enforce the principles of the PCA. If you have any questions or comments for the BYL, please visit our website at: or send an email to: . If you would like more information about the PCA, you can visit their website at: or send an email to: . 
Belmont Youth Lacrosse League