WYC 063 – Youth Soccer – Willie Cromack talks creating Better People, Better Players via ‘Go Play Better’

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

Cromack is a former collegiate soccer player who left the game after college to run the family bike shop. During his time at the shop he became heavily involved in charity bike rides, raising money and awareness for everything from cancer to education to the homeless. Cromack noticed something about the participants in his charity rides. They were motivated by a higher purpose that gave them the energy and motivation to complete daunting rides. They focused on a purpose much higher than winning the race, such as raising money by completing a feat of endurance and perseverance. Most importantly, simply by completing their goal, they won! Then Cromack thought “why can’t we do this with my youth soccer team?” Thus Play Better was born.

Play Better is an online giving platform that can be run through a simple phone app. Teams create a team page that handles all the administration of charitable receipts, collects reward donations and allows supporters to leave comments or compliments for players or the team. As Cromack says, “It’s like a benevolent team Facebook page!”

website: goplaybetter.com – Watch the 3 minute video on the homepage to hear what it’s all about!

Twitter: @goplaybetter & @willcromack

Facebook: /goplaybetter

Featured article on Changing the Game Project: changingthegameproject.com/a-higher-purpose-than-winning/

Listen Now:


Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link



‘Who is going to be brave enough to try this new move during the game this week?’

Coaching your own kids

  • Boys are very different than girls.  Boys tend to be more aggressive, girls have the tendency to be more passive and be just as happy passing the ball.

My Cringe & ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments

  • Teaching is complicated.  You have to break things down to the simplest form and start with the basics.
  • Don’t coach for the result, instead coach to get the kids better.  ‘It was all about me early on.  Then I realized it was all about the kids.’

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

  • Simplicity is key
  • Skill acquisition is what keeps kids coming back – the thought they are getting better.  And sports has the quickest feedback loop to whether the kids are learning and improving.

Self-Confidence and teaching kids to achieve peak performance


  • Set goals to try a new move during a game that you have been working on in practice: ‘Who is going to be brave enough to try this new move during the game this week?’
  • Your demeanor and body language is more important than anything you say.  If you look relaxed like you could be sitting in a lounge chair on the sidelines – the kids pick up on that.

Culture – Discipline/Rewards/Teambuilding

  • Culture – The one word we are going to define our team with is ‘Brave’
  • Coach your parents on what you are asking the kids to do – so they aren’t freaking out and telling the kids to do something different than you are teaching them

The One that Got Away

  • Coach Cromack shares a story of a very talented 11 year-old boys team getting whipped the day after Halloween – it was a reminder to him that they are just kids, don’t take it too seriously

Best Stolen Idea

  • ‘Better people, better players.’

Recommended resources

Go Play Better – HUGE IDEA #2

  • website: goplaybetter.com – Watch the 3 minute video on the homepage to hear what it’s all about!
  • It’s a way to replace win-at-all-cost attitudes with creating grateful attitudes and working for a cause bigger-than-themselves
  • You set a lofty goal (make 100 passes in the game), then instead of rewarding with ice-cream or a treat – they reward with donations to a charitable cause

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