What Do You Think is Most Important to Your Players?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck:

I’ve already discussed the origins of the word, “Coach”. It originates in England, from “coach” as in “carriage”; a vehicle that transports one from where they are now, to where they want to be. University students in 19th century England likened their instructors to carriages, “guiding” the students through their classes and exams. The word in that sense first appears in the written record in 1848. The “instructor” sense was then applied to sports trainers by 1885.

If you buy into the notion that your job is to transport your players to their desired destinations, it is important to understand that they each may have different goals. Your team may very well consist of players whose objectives are to make an all-star team, or play high school or even college ball. But you may also have players with no such aspirations. They may be on your team for no other reason than that they love to wear the uniform, play the game and get a snack. Wouldn’t it be awful if you coached both players the same way?

I would find it fascinating if a survey were done of all young athletes, asking them to rank the following things in order, from most important to least important:

•    Win
•    Have fun
•    Not get yelled at
•    Do something spectacular
•    Not get hurt
•    Learn something to make me better

My sense is that, in many instances, different players on the same team would rank all six choices differently. And then I would find it equally interesting if all coaches would take a similar survey, truthfully ranking the following items in the same fashion:

•    Win
•    Make sure everyone had fun
•    Conduct myself in a calm, respectable manner
•    See my own child perform well
•    Make sure everyone was safe
•    Teach something about the game to the team

There is no right or wrong order to either of these lists (though I'd argue keeping everyone safe should be #1 for coaches). But the best coaches are the ones whose list aligns most closely with their players’.

Brian Gotta is a former professional recreational youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at He can be reached at

1 comment

Jul 13, 2022 • Posted by Jeff Sopha

Coach Gotta – look up Amanda Visek from George Washington University and her 2014 study of youth athletes and what matters to them… FYI – playing with friends was #1 while winning as #42 on the list. Here’s some coverage from that study:

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