WYC 102 – Youth Coaching – Steven Cournoyer talks inspiring teams, players, and parents from the inside out

Steve Cournoyer has coached 38 different teams, from AAU basketball to 3rd grade kids, primarily in baseball and basketball. He has authored an excellent resource called The Inspired Coach – A guide to inspiring teams, players, and parents from the inside out. He has served our country in the military for over 10 years and worked as a medic in the operating room.

Website & Book: theinspiredcoach1.com

Twitter: @InspiredCoach1

Facebook: /theinspiredcoach

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‘If you change the way you look at things, what you look at changes’ – Mahatma Gandhi

Coaching your own kids

Assistant coaches

  • It all starts with communication
  • The goal is to develop the kids and help them fall in love with the sport.
  • Steve has a rule that the coaches don’t coach their own kids, they share those duties so that no one has the stress of trying to coach their own child


  • You must set the expectations with the parents
  • A parent meeting is a no-brainer
  • Make sure you’ve let the parents know your background, especially if you’re a volunteer coach
  • Set expectations for playing time – is it all equal?
  • Coach the parents on how to cheer – if they give conflicting messages it is very confusing to the kid. ‘Cheer to inspire instead of cheering to instruct’


  • Ask the players ‘Why are you here?’
  • Discuss their philosophy and the philosophy the team is going to have
  • Create some glue to pull them together:
    • A team name (that is different than your given team name)
    • A team song
    • A team cheer (Boston Celtics’ championship team used ‘Umbootu’)

Self-confidence – Unleashing fearless players

  • Coach doesn’t talk about winning with his players. He does talk about it with his coaches, but not with the players. A kid should never feel like it was their fault the team lost a game.
  • Teach the kids: ‘Always be surprised when you miss a shot (or strike out, or miss a tackle.)’ “Fail miserably, but learn from it, then be surprised when it happens again”
  • Don’t use conditioning as a punishment. ‘The harder you work in practice, the funner the games are.’ You want the players to believe that their conditioning has a distinct purpose and challenge them to bring their best to it.

Best team builders

  • For basketball – takes 5 players on one side of the gym and 5 on the other, then puts 17 basketballs in the middle, and asks them to pass the balls and get all the balls going. It’s great because they fail miserably at first and laugh about the struggle, but usually by the end of the year they start to get it

The One that got away

  • Listen to your assistant coaches and give them specific assignments during games so you can all catch different things going on

Best borrowed/stolen idea

  • ‘If you’re teaching 12 year-olds, and you treat them like 16 year-olds, they will play like 14 year-olds.’

Favorite coaching book/quote

The Inspired Coach book

Parting Advice

  • If you find ways to go out of your way to help your players fall in love with the game, you are going to be able to teach that game with greater precision.


Today’s Sponsors

I Youth Football helps coaches, organizations, or parents teach football skills to kids ages 3-11.  Not only does I Youth Football guarantee your players increase their skills, they will give you individualized pricing based on your situation. So if you are a coach or want your local organization to run I Youth Football in your area, visit them at www.iyouthfootball.com and reach out. It’s simple to set up, and a nice way to earn a little side money while helping kids learn the game of football. To get $100 off the program be sure to use this coupon code: winning


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