What's too much in coaching youth sports?

Anyone who's ever coached a young athlete recognizes the feeling — when pride and admiration turns to frustration or impatience when a shot is missed or a ball is dropped.

Countless times each year, coaches from kindergarten to college are able to turn those feelings into teachable moments and encouragement, approaches that almost always lead to better player or team performance.

But sometimes a darker side emerges: A player is yelled at, severely punished, even physically abused.

It’s not clear what happened last week with University of Kansas head football coach Mark Mangino. An investigation is under way following complaints by players and parents.

Yet the problem of overly aggressive youth coaching is growing in America. Indeed, three out of four young players quit organized sports before the age of 13, according to one survey, blaming overly aggressive coaching more than any other reason.

"The win-at-all-costs mentality that's filtered down from professional sports has colored youth sports," said Jim Thompson, founder of a California-based organization called the Positive Coaching Alliance, which counsels coaches at the high school level and below. "Youth coaches are imagining in their heads that they’re an NBA coach or an NFL coach."

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