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Friday, October 3, 2003



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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Phil Jackson's Lakers are in Hawaii for training. They play the Warriors twice here next week.


Jackson touts
positive coaches


Phil Jackson looks forward to the day when respect replaces rage at gyms and ball fields across the country.

As the national spokesman for the Positive Coaching Alliance, the Los Angeles Lakers coach is helping promote the organization, which emphasizes growth of character over a "win at all costs" attitude in youth sports.

Jackson, in town for the Lakers' training camp this week, was the featured speaker at a reception at the Pacific Club on Tuesday celebrating the launch of the new PCA office based at the University of Hawaii's Department of Kinesiology and Leisure Science.

Like many coaches, Jackson stressed the impact sports can have in molding the attitudes of young people and leading them to productive lives as adults. But the trick these days is keeping those youths coming back to the field.

"We've evolved into an idea that we have to bring kids along to a place where they're enjoying the game more than feeling the competitive spirit, even though the competitive spirit is always going to be there," Jackson told reporters before the reception.

"When kids get to their teenage years, we're losing almost 70 percent of the kids who participate between the ages of 8 and 13, where suddenly it becomes too competitive and it's too serious. It becomes an element in their life that has become no fun."

To help stem the tide of youth sports drop-outs, Jackson is helping PCA founder and executive director Jim Thompson spread the doctrine of positive coaching and the "double-goal coaching" model, in which coaches strive for on-field success while maintaining a positive environment for the players.

It's a departure from Jackson's beginnings as a teenage coach in the 1960s, when a yardstick was sometimes used to reinforce concepts for his Babe Ruth baseball teams.

"If you couldn't slide right, one whack, if you did it wrong the next time, two whacks, which we all thought was fun and games in the mid-'60s when a lot of our coaching symbolized military warfare," he said

While corporal punishment is largely extinct, coaches can sting a child's psyche with angry words.

Thompson said Larry Brown, now coach of the Detroit Pistons, read an article in which Jackson extolled the virtues of positive coaching and called the PCA office after personally witnessing the effects of a coach's tirade.

"(Brown) called us and said, 'My 8-year-old son came home from baseball practice and said (he doesn't) want to go back to baseball' because he had a bad experience with a coach," Thompson said. "He called saying, 'What can I do to keep other kids from having that?' "

Although PCA's mission is geared toward youth and high school coaches, Jackson said he used the concepts with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls in leading the franchises to a total of nine NBA titles.

This season, Jackson faces one of the biggest challenges of his career with the Lakers as he tries to blend the talents and egos of some of the game's elite in Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Gary Payton and help them balance the business of basketball.

"We try to lighten the load by making this a place which players can come to that they totally enjoy, that they feel safe about," Jackson said. "They feel like they have a place where they have a second family.

"In so doing, we hope to involve Karl, Gary and (veteran newcomer) Horace Grant in a way that they can enjoy themselves with the members of this team so we can produce those results on the court."

PCA has held clinics here in recent years and the opening of Positive Coaching Hawaii's local office will try to spread the word with workshops for the heads of sports organizations, coaches and parents.

Chip Hammond, president of Positive Coaching Hawaii, works with the Kalanianaole Athletic Club and said he reminds coaches of the effect they can have on players.

"I tell them in 14 weeks you can destroy their desire to ever play again," Hammond said.

Along with the opening of its new office at UH, Positive Coaching Hawaii is looking to start raising funds and hire a local coordinator in the coming months.

For more information, contact Hammond at 532-2826 or positivecoaching@verizon.net. Information on the national campaign can be found at www.positivecoach.org.

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