Originally published Sunday, August 27, 2017 at 06:05a.m.

Positive Coaching Alliance’s mantra is “Better Athletes Better People,” and that’s exactly the message first-year Bradshaw Mountain High School athletic director Tony Miller wants his coaches to instill in their student-athletes on the Prescott Valley campus.

For two hours Saturday morning at Glassford Hill Middle School, Arizona Diamondbacks director of baseball outreach and development Jeff Rodin, a member of Positive Coaching Alliance’s Phoenix chapter board, conducted an alliance clinic for Bradshaw Mountain’s coaches, among others, in the Humboldt Unified School District. The goal was to certify these coaches so that they can begin implementing the alliance’s tenets on both the practice and playing fields.

Miller said 46 people attended Rodin’s workshop, which focused on how coaches can achieve optimum performance from their athletes through encouragement, and building team rapport and character. Rodin has been teaching the principles of Positive Coaching Alliance founder Jim Thompson since 2013.

“Negativity snowballs and breeds dissent,” Rodin told the coaches from the outset. “It distracts from staying within the moment, the objective.”

Positive coaching, the alliance teaches, creates an atmosphere that supports the “best possible performance.” The alliance cites several elite coaches and researchers who agree that praising players for their individual contributions is better than focusing on their deficiencies.

Positive Coaching Alliance reps say their message applies to leaders (principals, athletic directors, etc.), coaches, athletes and parents. And yet coaches often have the most influence on their players when striving to win and teaching life lessons.

The alliance believes coaches should mold their athletes into hard-working, inspirational and classy “triple-impact competitors,” Rodin said. In this system, each athlete works to better him or herself, the team and the game.

Rodin led several exercises for the coaches on Saturday.

One exercise split the coaches into three groups based on their experience — 20 or more years coaching, 10-20 years, and less than 10 years. Within each of the groups, there were teams of two or three coaches who discussed past coaches who most impacted their lives, positively or negatively. Another exercise asked the coaches what they wanted their teams to be known for, and to write their thoughts on small sticky notes.

Rodin, who handed out Thompson’s Positive Coaching Alliance book, “Elevating Your Game: Becoming a Triple-Impact Competitor,” to each coach, encouraged coaches to have their players complete Thompson’s “Triple-Impact Competitor Self-Assessment” form. It asks athletes to assess to what degree they feel they are bettering themselves, the team and the game.

From there, Rodin told the coaches about the alliance’s “Development Zone,” which teaches athletes how to play with confidence and without tentativeness.

“I tell my wrestlers to practice non-tentatively all the time,” Bradshaw Mountain wrestling coach Brad Grauberger said.

Bears softball coach Sharon Haese added, “If you are playing tentatively, you’re practicing tentatively. You need situational awareness of when to be firm and how to get them to refocus themselves.”

This discussion fed into the alliance’s “ELM Tree of Mastery,” which teaches athletes the importance of Effort, Learning and Improvement, and bouncing back from mistakes. This is the opposite of dwelling on results, comparisons with others, and miscues.

“You can only control what you can control,” Rodin said.

The ELM Tree of Mastery seeks to decrease athletes’ anxiety while boosting their self-confidence to perform without fear of failure.

“Develop a Mistake Ritual – brush it off, flush it,” Rodin said.

Another primary alliance focus is “Filling the Emotional Tank,” or coaching teams’ players to stay optimistic so that they can handle adversity. Rodin said it’s important for coaches to have one-on-one interaction with players. That means looking a player in the eye and giving “truthful, specific praise, expressing appreciation and listening.”

“For every correction [of an athlete], there must be a certain number of positives,” Rodin said. “The ratio should be at least 5:1 [five positives for every correction]. Calmness is contagious.”

Rodin added that coaches should work on improving their “plus/minus ratio,” and that criticism of a player or athlete should be done in private.

Grauberger, a veteran coach, said he’s learned through the years that you “have to try to find something good in every situation.” However, a coach’s comments to an athlete should be genuine and heartfelt.

“You have to give truthful praise, and that’s hard sometimes,” Grauberger added. “I tell them to just play. I will not jump on kids. Mistakes happen.”

Saturday’s discussion ended by addressing bullying and hazing. Positive Coaching Alliance teaches teams to embrace new and younger team members by welcoming them into the “family” and working with them. This sets the culture for the team’s values.

The alliance believes teams should remember the legacy they want to leave behind. That means respecting ROOTS – Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, Self.

“Coaches must be engaged and watch for hazing,” said Rodin, adding the importance of monitoring players’ social media posts. “Be aware of what they are sending – that they must be positive when they are Tweeting. This is part of Culture Creation – this is the way we do things here.”

For more information about Positive Coaching Alliance, visit positivecoach.org or call toll-free at 866-725-0024.