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What does a coach look for most in an athlete? Shari Kuchenbecker and her team of research assistants from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles interviewed six hundred and fifty-eight coaches representing forty-three sports. The athletes they coached ranged in age from three to twenty-two. Across the board, Kuchenbecker says, coaches picked psychological factors over physical factors when asked what makes for a successful young athlete. Responses like "loves to play", "positive attitude", and "self-motivated" far outnumbered responses like "strong" or "naturally athletic" or "physically gifted".

Unfortunately, parents don’t always realize that they should be putting the emphasis where the coaches put it-on qualities like attitude and enthusiasm. Instead, they put a lot of effort into sending the kid to special tutors or camps to work on their physical skills, failing to foster a simple enjoyment of the game.

"The Number One thing coaches want is a kid who loves to play. A kid who loves to play is fun to coach," she says.