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Play Like a Champion Today
Transforming Youth Sports Culture

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What's the Problem?

The past several years have seen growing concern about the state of youth and high school sports in America. Mounting evidence suggests that activities once seen as fun and nurturing are now viewed as hard work of questionable developmental value. Sports can involve work, but the work should be fun. Sports played in schools and clubs are becoming detached from their educational mission and losing the value of character formation. Shifts toward commercialism and exclusion of the non-elite have been broadly identified as affecting the sports culture.


Several other disturbing trends include:

  • The average child today spends less than 3 years playing a sport and quits by age 11 because it is no longer fun.

  • Many sports programs have adopted a win-at-all cost mentality that is counter-productive to building character.

  • Children from low-income families are half as likely to play sports as kids from upper-incomes homes.

  • The trend toward specialization has meant fewer children are participating in multiple sports, which has proven to increase burnout and injury, which can negatively impact a child's development.

  • Officials are dropping out of youth sports at unprecedented levels due to abuse from spectators, coaches, and even athletes.

  • As “parent rage” incidents increase, sports parents are losing sight of proper behavior at youth sports events.

  • Pressure on families is building as recruiters target children at younger ages through expensive clubs, programs and trainers.

  • Less than a third of coaches have attended character-focused training to attend to the wholistic development of athletes.

Why Play Like a Champion?


These trends are disturbing. We know that kids need sports! Positive sports experiences are associated with a range of benefits for youth that include: higher future earnings; less smoking and drug use; decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and childhood obesity; higher academic achievement and productivity; improved life skills; and better overall mental health and self-esteem. (Source: Project Play State of Play 2020). We also know that sports provide a healthy, meaningful place for children to play and an alternative to negative influences like gang involvement and violence on the streets.

Play Like a Champion has the winning formula: Educate individuals in America's sports community to provide a positive sport culture. We do this through Play Like a Champion’s research-based coach, parent, official and athlete curriculum that builds an engaging climate for team development and an effective system for building positive relationships. This approach assures that all athletes can grow physically, socially, emotionally and morally through their athletic experience.

Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series Programs


Play Like a Champion Today has created an Educational Series comprised of unique and comprehensive programs designed to meet the needs of youth and high school partners by delivering research-based programs, resources, and consultation. Play Like a Champion’s curriculum is designed to elevate the culture of sport and enhance the life of every athlete by fostering their holistic development. Whether athletes grow socially, emotionally, mentally and morally through their sport experience depends upon the how the athletic environment is conducted. Programs partnering with Play Like a Champion Today can participate in:

  • A 3-4 Hour Coach Clinic for all Coaches & Athletic Personnel

  • A comprehensive plan with ongoing consultation from Play Like a Champion

  • Parent Like a Champion Workshop

  • A youth Official’s Workshop

  • Athlete Leadership Seminars and Player Handbook

  • Preseason and Postseason player, coach and parent evaluations of the athletic experience

  • A variety of Advanced Clinics and Workshops for continuing education

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Program Flexibility: Play Like a Champion works with each partner to determine the most effective approach to incorporating our comprehensive programs. We tailor our programs to meet the unique needs of your sport community!

Play Like a Champion was named a 2020 Project Play Champion for work on an innovative Physical Education curriculum with partners in the Archdiocese of Miami Catholic school system. Click to learn more!

​Coach Clinics

Based on the latest research in sports science as well as sports psychology rooted in social and emotional learning, the Play Like a Champion Educational Series offers a one-of-a-kind, interactive clinic to educate coaches on how to foster the full development of their athletes through building cohesive teams. Play Like a Champion coaching philosophy involves protecting the joyful dimension of sports as competitive play and the educational dimension of sports as fostering children’s physical, social, emotional and moral development. The coach clinic teaches how to:

  • Make sports fun for all of the players

  • Create a welcoming and inclusive team environment

  • Develop the mind, body, and moral character of their players

  • Set mental, physical, and moral goals with young athletes

  • Build a team in which all children feel accepted and cared for 

  • Give children a sense of  ownership and control of their sports experience.

  • Re-define winning as the achievement of team-set goals

  • Build lasting, strong relationships among the team and with sports parents


Play Like a Champion Coach clinics are nationally accredited by the NCACE

All Play Like a Champion coach clinics utilize the GROW approach.

Goals + Relationships + Ownership = Winning

Using the GROW approach, coaches leave Play Like a Champion clinics with the preparation required to build a team that succeeds on the field, and to guide young athletes to mature into people with strong moral fiber and healthy lifestyles characterized by physical literacy. Results show that the Play Like a Champion approach to coaching leads to an improved sport experience for all: 

  • Student-athletes are happier in sports and stay active for more years in sports.

  • Coaches gain an increased sense of pride in the work they are doing.

  • Parents report greater satisfaction with their children's sports experience.

  • Officials feel respected and appreciated.

  • Administrators enjoy the benefits of having professionally prepared coaches committed to the developmental mission of their school or league.

Play Like a Champion works with organizations and schools in both public and private settings, offering a a variety of programming options to meet the specific needs of your coaches, parents and athletes. If your athletic program is part of a Catholic or religious school/organization, visit our Sport as Ministry page to learn more about faith-based programming that adds spiritual formation to the Play Like a Champion approach.

Parent Workshops

In addition to coach and athlete education, Play Like a Champion provides Parent Like a Champion handbooks and workshops for parents of student-athletes that focus on appropriate roles and responsibilities to empower parents to be on the same page as to the purpose and process of the sports experience. The Parent Like a Champion Workshop curriculum and handbook aim to:

  • Identify what to look for in a positive sports program and what parents can expect from a well-formed coach.

  • Alert parents to behaviors that contribute to toxic sports climates and provide alternative supportive and positive behaviors.

  • Offer strategies for parents to emphasize character development in their child's sports journey

  • Provide parents with advice on nutrition, exercise, and motivation that can help their children develop wellness habits of physical literacy to last a lifetime.​

New in 2021! Play Like a Champion is offering virtual Parent Like a Champion Workshops via Zoom. Join our trainers for this one hour workshop that gives sports parents the tools to develop their Champion and create a positive youth sports culture. Click here to learn more and register for an upcoming session today!

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Athlete Resources

High School Leadership Seminars

Athletes often emerge as natural leaders in their communities, but do they lead in a positive manner? For our high school partners, Play Like a Champion has designed leadership seminars that prepare student-athletes to be moral leaders on their teams, in their school communities, and throughout their lives.

Youth Player Handbook

The handbook is a resource used by young athletes as they progress through a season. The handbook helps student-athletes to set goals while reflecting upon the valuable lessons of sports. A Leader’s Guide is also available, serving as an aid for coaches or parents of athletes who are using the Player Handbook.

PE Curriculum


Play Like a Champion’s PE Curriculum was developed to provide 5th-8th grade students with a Physical Education curriculum that promotes whole-child development and lifelong physical literacy. Our curriculum for Catholic schools offers a unique integration of faith formation and prayer in support of the school’s mission, while our public school option emphasizes character education. The intentional, comprehensive approach offered by this program enhances the PE Classroom, applying the fullest understanding of the human person to physical, mental, social, emotional, moral, and spiritual development.

The framework for this curriculum draws heavily on Play Like a Champion’s approach to character development through sport as well as research in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), the work of Don Hellison on Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility through Physical Activity (TPSR), and for our Catholic curriculum, Church documents such as Giving the Best of Yourself: a Document on the Christian Perspective on Sport and the Human Person (2018). The purpose of the teachings are to empower students to take responsibility for their own development and well-being and for contributing to the well-being of others. As this curriculum features one full class lesson each unit along with short “follow-up lessons” in subsequent classes, teachers will utilize Play Like a Champion’s PE Curriculum in conjunction with their existing standards and lesson plans.

The PE Curriculum includes an interactive student workbook (Student-Athlete Playbook) and dynamic slides with visuals, video and text to supplement content taught in the classroom. The Playbook is available in digital or print formats to meet your school's needs and Play Like a Champion provides support for teachers and staff throughout the partnership.

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Click the image above to access a sample lesson on Mental Goals!

Sample PowerPoint Slides from First Year Materials

Additional Resources

Play Like a Champion has several additional resources available to help partners provide an outstanding experience for athletes and teams. From weekly "Coach Note" emails to additional workshops and consulting, we have resources and solutions for every youth and high school program. Check out additional resources below, including our Code of Conduct for coaches, parents, athletes and officials. Use these to set a high standard and create an environment everyone can be proud of!

Officials Workshops

Officials are more than just regulators of competition; they are keepers of the integrity of sports. Play Like a Champion offers a one-hour workshop for officials to ensure that the caretakers of youth sports are well-versed in our principles and prepared to guide a sport environment that is fair and safe. The clinic provides best practices for officials to implement the Play Like a Champion philosophy in their key roles as guardian, judge, and peacekeeper.

Evaluation and Administrative Consultation

The Play Like a Champion leadership team continues to consult with partners after the initial workshops regarding program evaluation, follow up and additional plans. We provide program evaluation and supervisory resources to guide administrators in honestly assessing their sports culture and using intentional tools to elevate it, such as coach, parent and athlete pre- and post-season surveys.


Weekly Educational Follow-up

Every Tuesday morning, Play Like a Champion partners receive our Weekly Champion Notes in their inbox. These content-rich emails remind coaches, parents and athletes of the Champion philosophy initially learned in our clinics and workshops, with application to key topics and specific suggestions on how to implement the approach within sports. This continuing education is essential for ensuring the Play Like a Champion philosophy remains top-of-mind with fresh ideas for intentional implementation that lead to ongoing growth and satisfaction for the whole athlete.


Click for a Preview of Weekly Notes for Champions

Train the Trainer

Many educational models employ a top-down approach by sending their “expert” trainer to a community. Play Like a Champion knows that local athletic administrators are deeply committed to ensuring the highest quality of their sports programs. Therefore, Play Like a Champion employs a “Train the Trainer” model with our curriculum providing resources and training to local leadership to present our curriculum to coaches, parents and athletes. This model empowers local leadership in an engaged ongoing professional partnership with  Play Like a Champion staff. This model also creates sustainability and affordability in the education process tailor made to fit the unique character, size, and identity of particular schools or leagues.

We Champion Female Coaches!

Play Like a Champion believes strongly that women everywhere make great coaches. At the youth or high school level and beyond, women have the character, experience and skill necessary to teach boys and girls of all ages. Further, we believe that sports need great female coaches to serve as role models for younger generations of girls, to show these leaders of tomorrow what they can become. Unfortunately, the number of women serving as coaches is not nearly high enough.


  • It has been almost 45 years since Title IX was established and female sport participation is at an all-time high. Yet, the percentage of women coaching women at the collegiate level has declined from over 90% in 1974 to a nearly all-time low today of approximately 40%.​

  • About 15% of youth coaches are women. The lack of female role models and female coaches may contribute to the higher drop out rate for girls.​

  • Up to 75% of youth are dropping out of sports by the age of 13 primarily, they say, because it is not fun anymore…60% of these adolescents are females.​

Click the video above to hear from great female coaches!

With this in mind, Play Like a Champion is on a mission to increase the number of female coaches by increasing awareness, inviting women to get involved, and advocating for practices that promote the increase of female coaches in youth and high school sports. What can you do to join this important cause? 

  • Share your story! Connect with us on social media or email us to tell us about the amazing women coaching in your area and help encourage more females of all ages to get in the game.​

  • Promote this message with mothers of athletes and invite them to coach! Use your own platform to promote the benefits of coaching with women in your organization. These benefits include the ability to use your gifts and talents to impact children's lives, to spend more time with your own child in one of their favorite activities, to be a role model and more.​

  • Create a "Women’s Only" coaching clinic at your local level! Ask a great female coach in your area or school to provide a clinic in her sport. Invite local girls and women of all ages to attend and learn. Cover practice and game plans, game strategy, and also strategies for women balancing work and family with being a youth sports parent and coach. Promote the importance of women coaching. Make this 45-60 minutes and include child care during the clinic.​

  • Add a +1! Encourage everyone in your organization to bring a female coach on-board as an assistant or head coach of another team. For youth organizations, have every one of your female coaches strive to add a female assistant or convince another woman to take on the role of head coach within your league. For high schools, talk to your male and female coaches about encouraging and considering female applicants for open assistant coaching positions. If everyone just added a +1, we would make a dramatic impact across our communities!​

  • Encourage high school and college aged girls to “sample” coaching by assisting on a youth or high school team. You never know when this simple step will lead to a lifetime of coaching that can have a positive impact on so many!​


Know of something else that would make an impact in this movement? Email us or reach out to us on social media to let us know!

Additional Resources on Women in Sport

The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport  |  WeCOACH  |  Female Coaching Network  |  Girls in the Game|  Women in Sports Coaching by Nicole M. LaVoi (2016)

To learn more about your organization working in partnership with the Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series, contact us today.

Coach Clinics
Additional Resources
PE Curriculum
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