WYC 039 Dr. Michael Phillips talks Long Term Athlete and Coach Development

What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Dr. Michael Phillips shares stories and discusses his journey to becoming a successful youth sports coach.

Michael is a professor of exercise science at Tennessee Tech University.  He has coached basketball at all levels – 5th grade AAU, middle school, high school, and 8 years at the collegiate level.  Michael also has studied and presented the concept of LTAD and LTCD – Long Term Athlete Development and Long Term Coach Development – concepts used by the Canadians and British, and being studied by the US Olympic Committee.  Michael is married and has 2 children, a 13 year-old son and 8 year-old daughter.

Twitter: @docphillips1

Facebook: /mikephillips

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


Coaching/Leadership Quote

‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you figure out why’ – attributed to Mark Twain

Coaching Your Own Kids

  • It’s hard to strike a fair balance of how hard to be on your own kid

My Cringe & ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments

  • Being a former player – in Michael’s early years he realized he couldn’t just show up and teach them what he knew – he had to learn how to teach kids

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

  • Michael found 2 keys to learning how to teach/coach:

1 – Going to coaching clinics

2 – Talking to other coaches

  • Begin lots of drills without a ball – teach them the footwork first, then add in a ball
  • Great drill – Split the kids in half and have them do drills towards mid-court so they meet their teammates and can watch/learn as they go

Mental Peak Performance

  • Practices have to be fun, challenging, and competitive
  • Preparation is the key to achieving peak performance.  Take the thinking out of it- so they can just perform.  Make practices game-like so they don’t have surprises during the game.

Coaching Resources



  • Spend much more time praising the kids who are doing it right – and much less time getting on the kids who aren’t behaving.  Often the misbehaving kids want attention so if you are giving all the attention to the kids who are doing it right, the misbehavers will fall in line.

Inspiring Story

  • Michael gave a scholarship to a kid who wasn’t as athletically gifted as some others but had an unbelievable work-ethic and attitude.  Michael really connected with the kid and they had a great experience.

Long Term Athlete Development and Long Term Coach Development

  • Canada and Great Britain have created programs that look at long-term athlete development instead of putting kids on teams immediately focused on winning
  • Most new coaches in the U.S. have never been trained on coaching


  • When you coach – ask yourself: is your primary goal the long-term development of the athlete, or just winning?

The One that Got Away

  • When coaching college against his big rival – Coach Phillips showed some ‘Braveheart’ clips pre-game – and his guys got over-fired up before the game, and had absolutely no energy left 5 minutes into the game.  Lesson learned: be more methodical and business-like in pre-game, not too rah-rah.

Coaching/Leadership Motivation

  • Quote: ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you figure out why’ – attributed to Mark Twain


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