Coaching for the Love of the Game

A Practical Guide for Working with Young Athletes

By Jennifer L. Etnier

192 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 19 halftones, 1 graph, 5 tables, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5483-6
    Published: March 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5482-9
    Published: March 2020
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5484-3
    Published: February 2020

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More than 45 million children play youth sports in the United States each year, and most are coached by parent volunteers with good intentions but little training. This lack of training and an overemphasis on winning often results in stress and frustration for coaches and players alike, which can discourage young athletes so much that they walk away from sports altogether. With this new guide for amateur parent coaches, Jennifer Etnier, author of Bring Your ‘A’ Game, aims to change that. Etnier offers a system of positive coaching that can be applied to any sport, from the beginner level to high school athletics, and explains that good coaching requires working with young athletes at their developmental level and providing feedback designed to keep children engaged and having fun.

Etnier gives easy-to-understand guidance on important aspects of successful coaching—including information on the development of children’s motor skills, communication with a young athlete’s parents, and nurturing a growth-oriented mind-set—making this a critical resource for youth coaches of all experience levels.

About the Author

Jennifer L. Etnier is professor of kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and author of Bring Your ‘A’ Game: A Young Athlete's Guide to Mental Toughness.
For more information about Jennifer L. Etnier, visit the Author Page.


“Coaches want to pass along their love of the sport to the youth they coach, but the result of their leadership and communication can sometimes lead to negative outcomes—kids quitting the sport, early specialization, and parent ‘cheering’ run amok, to name just a few. In this practical ‘how to’ for coaches of any youth sport, Jennifer Etnier shares how coaches can encourage youth to continue enjoying playing sports. Etnier points coaches, who often know their specific sport and drills well but lack knowledge about children's developmental needs, in the right direction to help their athletes thrive on and off the field. If you want to have a positive impact on the youth you coach, pick up a copy of Coaching for the Love of the Game.”–Audrey Monke, author of Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults

“Parents, teachers, and coaches are in a unique position to influence a child’s future, and Coaching for the Love of the Game is a must-read for anyone coaching young athletes. If you’ve become a coach to help the next generation, read Etnier’s book to learn some of the most powerful tools to make a positive impact and create an enormous ripple effect well beyond your coaching career.”–Kirsten Jones, motivational speaker, writer, and Peak Performance Coach

"If you are concerned about the present culture of youth sports, this book is a must read. What do kids want? What do kids need?  What do kids like?  Jennifer Etnier addresses it all with data, personal experiences, and common sense.  Coaches, parents, sport administrators, and young athletes, please read this book for the love of sports."—Jay Miller, U.S. National Teams soccer coach and instructor of the U.S. Soccer National Coaching License Program

“Jennifer Etnier’s background as a player, coach, parent, teacher, and researcher allows her to offer a unique and thoughtful perspective on being a great coach. It is one thing to understand the rules and strategies of the game. It is an entirely different thing to understand how to create and nurture a climate where youth participants have positive experiences and are motivated to continue, and to cultivate some of the life lessons that sports instill. This book holds a wealth of interesting, relevant, and helpful information that can help parents and coaches do just that.”-–Anthony Amorose, Illinois State University