WYC Episode 041 – The 10,000 Hour Rule? – Dr. Michael Cathey talks player development and deliberate practice

What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Dr. Michael Cathey shares stories and discusses his journey to becoming a successful youth sports coach.

Michael is a professor of exercise science and physical education pedagogy at Tennessee Tech University.  He has coached high school football and baseball as well as his kids’ teams at the youth level.  Michael did his dissertation studying the 10,000 rule and has written and studied this topic extensively.  Michael is married and has 2 children, ages 7 and 5.

Twitter: @m_cathey

Facebook: /catheym

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


Coaching/Leadership Quote

You practice with the intent of getting better, and it’s OK to mess up, because messing up helps you get better

Coaching Your Own Kids

  • Coach shares a funny story when a kid asked if he’s unimportant because he’s playing in the outfield – coach turned it around and made this exciting by saying you have to be like a superhero Flash when playing out there


  • The importance of winning is very dependent on each kid – it depends on where they are at.

My Cringe & ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments

  • In his early years Michael looks back on how naive he was – too much focus on winning instead of fundamentals and player development.  He wanted to win but wasn’t equipping his players with the skills needed to win.

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

  • Michael teaches everything in 3’s so it’s simple and easy to remember
  • ‘Parents come ready and dressed to participate at practice’ – They have competitions and scrimmages against their parents.
  • Teach base running by using high-fives

Mental Peak Performance

  • Teach kids to ignore the noise. And ask the parents not to ‘yip’ instructions at their kids
  • Self-confidence comes from you showing the kids you believe in them



  • Instead of punishments – have the kids just start that action over again and do it right


  • They recognize their teammates for hustle,attitude by letting them do the team chant

Inspiring Story

  • Michael shares a story about a kid who was crying at the beginning of practice because he didn’t know anybody- so he had his daughter befriend the kid, and he as the coach got him involved – and once the kid got comfortable he opened up and had a great season

The 10,000 hour theory

  • Michael did his dissertation on this developmental model – specifically studying baseball pitchers
  • Michael found 27 out of 30 pitchers had not specialized in pitching, or even baseball at young ages
  • The professional baseball pitchers predominantly had expert coaches at the high school level – not just a local high school coach or mom/dad
  • Takeaway – think through your travel sports plans when your kids are younger- it might not be necessary, unless there really just isn’t another good option for them to get good competition.  But by middle-school/high-school – seek out paid professionals to coach your kid in the correct mechanics, especially if they want to play at the collegiate level and beyond

Best Stolen idea

  • ‘Talk TO your players, not AT them’

Coaching/Leadership Motivation


Parting Advice

  • Have fun, and make sure the kids are having fun.

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