WYC 130 – Youth Coaching – Mike Kasales talks how the military builds teams & achieves peak performance

Colonel (Retired) Michael Kasales recently retired from the U.S. Army after 28 years of active-duty service, and now volunteers as an assistant women’s lacrosse coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Coach Kasales is an adjunct professor for the University of Denver’s Master of Arts in Sport Coaching program (online), and is pursuing his Ph.D. with a focus on student-athlete leadership development. He recently completed his second graduate degree, a Master of Arts in Sport Coaching from the University of Denver. He received a Master’s degree from Webster University in 2001, and received his undergraduate degree from DePauw University in 1987.

LinkedIn: /michaelkasales

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‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit’ – Aristotle

What can coaches learn from the military?

  • The military isn’t about yelling and screaming. It’s about building teams and achieving peak performance.

Team warm-ups

  • A little bit of static stretching is OK, but focus is warming up the muscles through dynamic stretches.
  • Foam rollers are inexpensive and a great tool

Teaching Skills

  • Constant blocked practices vs. random variable drills
    • The memory and skill sticks better when allowing the athlete freedom to think during a drill vs. predetermining for them exactly what they should do

Fun Games to teach skills

  • HORSE – They play horse-like game, but use letters LAX. First player makes shot, then everyone follows.

Mental toughness

  • Mental toughness cannot be turned on/off. Weave it into your practice plan. Every task/drill need to incorporate it. How do you relax? How do use imagery? Have deliberate discussions throughout practice.
  • If 50 to 80% of the game is mental – are you practicing it?


  • Have a written coaching philosophy
  • Core values will keep you from bouncing from hot topic to hot topic and a flavor of the day
  • Establish team standards and team goals
  • From me you can expect… From you here is what I expect…
  • Be careful to not give false praise – if they don’t deserve it, don’t falsely praise them, it will make your words mean less
  • Copy of Mike’s philosophies

Connecting with and impacting kids

  • Mike worked with an athlete who gained a great deal of self-confidence, mostly through Mike just taking an interest in him

The one that got away

  • Mike saw a young athlete not giving her all and he didn’t say anything about it – she ended up getting hurt, he regrets not mentioning it

Favorite book/quote

Parting Advice

  • Don’t say ‘my team’ or ‘my athletes’ – it’s ‘our team’

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