John O'Sullivan (third from the left) poses with DS Athletic Director Jeff Parcels, Student-Athletes Angus Goodearl, Sam Dawley and Sarah Lamson, and DSHS Headmaster John Smith.
On November 16, the Dover-Sherborn community hosted John O'Sullivan, founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project. John spoke to 400+ student-athletes at Dover-Sherborn High School after school, followed by a presentation to the DS High School and youth coaches. He then addressed over 125 parents and guardians in an evening presentation entitled "Creating an Athlete-Centered Environment in Youth Sports.”
During his presentation to the student-athletes, O'Sullivan encouraged his audience to "find their one percent” - to improve their behavior and their habits in order to create a culture of positivity throughout every season. He reminded them to refrain from playing the blame game, to pick up their teammates after mistakes are made, and that sport skills become life skills. As for specialization in one sport? John suggests that kids not focus on just one, but take a broad approach to learning and playing multiple sports; it's better for their body, their mind, and their experience.
When speaking to DS coaches, John talked of how important it is to build confidence, develop character, and connect with their athletes - and emphasizing how vital it is that they hold their athletes accountable for their actions in order to create positive behaviors that drive performance.
He asked: "What makes a good coach?" Approximately 80 percent of the coaches’ answers were attributes that fell under “connection/emotional intelligence,” while 20 percent of their answers fell under “knowledge of the sport.” Establishing goals and values early in the season is key to creating a good team.
Parents and guardians were asked in their evening presentation what has changed in sports since they were kids: the answers included costs, early specialization, more competition, and greater push for younger teams to form by levels. O'Sullivan reminded parents why kids play sports: that it's fun, it helps them develop a passion, and, as parents, we need to let them own the sport for themselves.
A key take-away from the presentation for many in the audience was John's advice on talking to kids after a game: "I love watching you play" should be the first words parents say - before going to get ice-cream.
Videotapes of John O'Sullivan's three presentations will become available for anyone wishing to view them.
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