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Just Let Em Play: Guiding Parents, Coaches and Athletes Through Youth Sports

For the past several years, I have been encouraged by many to write a book about my experiences as a sport psychologist. As I contemplated the possibility of putting a manuscript together, I surveyed the literature to see what types of books were written about sport psychology, winning and losing, sportsmanship and how sport has changed over my past 35 years in sport psychology. However, the one area that kept pulling me was the topic of youth sports. If you have been getting my newsletters, you know that this has been one of my passions because I see the tremendous damage so many young athletes are experiencing. Pushy parents, untrained coaches and an increasing demand to start signing kids up to play on a team at younger and younger ages led me to decide to write a book about youth sports.

Once I decided that this is what I wanted to do, I knew it needed to have not only my input, but the opinions of a successful coach and athlete. Consequently, I asked three time Major League All-Star pitcher and Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer Jeff Montgomery, and Olympic Hall of Fame swim coach, Peter Malone to join me on this project. I asked them for three reasons. First, they are both extremely successful in their respective sports. Second, I have known both of them on a professional basis and have tremendous respect for them. Third, Jeff coached my oldest son on his youth baseball team and Pete coached my youngest son through his college career as a swimmer. We joined forces with established writer, Matt Fulks and are proud to announce that our book, “Just Let Em Play: Guiding Parents, Coaches and Athletes through Youth Sports” is now available. The book was published by Ascend Publishers.

Our book discusses the world of youth sports. We believe we have addressed the topics that can assist parents, coaches, athletes and officials. Some of the topics that are covered include the following: When and why should I sign my child up for a team? How can embracing failure lead to fun? What are the roles of coaches, parents and officials and how do they impact the athlete? Why is communication so important for all involved? What happens when my child either wants to quit or move up from a recreational to competitive team? How to deal with all of the negativity and pressure that is growing in youth sports. How can a coach make the sports a learning experience but one that is fun? Should I coach my child? What do we do about participation trophies? What are the harsh realities you have to deal with? How do we balance out sport, school and family? Why should sportsmanship be a priority? We also have a chapter by nationally renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Steve Joyce, discussing youth sport injuries. And we have a chapter that is a summary of opinions from elite high school athletes about their views on sport.

The book is now available on my website,, and is on and I’d appreciate any feedback and comments should you purchase the book. Our goal in writing the manuscript was to assist everyone in the world of youth sports and make it a positive experience for all. As the title says, Just Let Em Play.

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