Foundations of Positive Coaching


To promote POSITIVE COACHING in sport at all levels, and to enhance lives and society by “Winning Kids with Sport!”

Foundations of Positive Coaching

Positive Coaching provides coaches a scientifically and philosophically sound way to teach athletes how to compete and perform their very best on a consistent basis. Positive Coaching empowers athletes to prepare better, perform better, achieve more, and experience personal excellence. This drives them to be prouder, happier, healthier, and more fulfilled for their investment, and it motivates athletes to come back and do even more!

Foundations of Positive Coaching include

  • Striving for excellence.
  • Understanding that it does matter that we win.
  • Achieving optimal performance.
  • Teaching and modeling the process of success.
  • Leading a group to become a highly effective team.
  • Nurturing intrinsic motivation.
  • Communicating with our athletes just as we would want to be communicated with by our own leaders.
  • Respecting and protecting the self-worth of every athlete.
  • Being demanding, without being demeaning.
  • Shaping the athlete’s will without breaking his or her spirit.
  • Realizing that it does matter that we win …because it absolutely does matter that we win in the life of every athlete with whom we have the opportunity to serve as their coach!

Why Positive Coaching?

Sport has an enormous presence and a huge impact in our society. Thus, it has the potential to teach critical life skills and to develop incredible leaders of tomorrow. Unfortunately, many of these life lessons are not learned because kids have negative and damaging sport experiences. Kids meet sport at the coach! Coaches are the designers and deliverers of the sport experience, and Positive Coaching maximizes the opportunity to win in the life of every athlete.

How do we impact the sport experience?

We Educate, Equip, and Empower coaches and organizations to understand, integrate, and execute the principles of Positive Coaching. These Principles help coaches create environments and experiences that optimize motivation and liberate athletes to become the very best they can be.

What do we do?

We define Positive Coaching and what needs to be done to intentionally create a positive sport experience. We deliver scientifically-based best practices in coaching through keynotes, workshops, programming, and online platforms.

The Principles of Positive Coaching

1.  Discover the Calling

  • Reflect on personal values and foundational beliefs.
  • Identify goals and purposes of the sport experience.
  • Develop and shape coaching philosophy.
  • Adopt the role of the learner.
  • Choose to model and develop positive character…relentlessly!

2.  Build the Foundation

  • Create and nurture each individual’s self-worth and self-esteem.
  • Promote and protect the priority of each individual’s well-being and happiness.
  • Develop and foster the sense of meaning and purpose.
  • Develop a healthy attitude toward competition.
  • Develop the desire to have fun.

3.  Cultivate Positive and Caring Relationships

  • Communicate respectfully with those you lead, just as you would wish to be communicated with by those who lead you.
  • Develop a spirit of cooperation.
  • Demonstrate and utilize positive, active, constructive instruction.
  • Demonstrate and utilize positive, active, constructive responding.
  • Develop and model the regular sharing of gratitude.

4.  Empower Growth Mindsets

  • Develop and model a positive approach to achieving SuCCCCCCCess, and emphasize engagement in the process.
  • Develop the realization that nothing of any real value is ever achieved without hard work and dedication.
  • Develop intrinsic motivation, internal motivation, approach motivation, and positive motivation.
  • Develop self-confidence by allowing individuals to make decisions for oneself, about oneself, and by oneself.

5.  Inspire Passionate Hearts

  • Develop the desire to strive wholeheartedly toward personal excellence.
  • Identify and build upon each person’s strengths.
  • Model, promote, and nurture positive emotions.
  • Develop the perspective of optimism as defining the sport culture.
  • Celebrate and savor individuals’ experiences of achievement and success, both in and out of sport.

6.  Produce and Achieve Optimal Performances

  • Develop and model the skills of “Thinking Right” in sport.
  • Develop and model the skills of focus and self-control.
  • Develop and model the skills of the 7 C’s of SuCCCCCCCess.
  • Develop and model the skills of Mental Toughness.
  • Develop and nurture an environment that supports flow experiences.

Positive Coaching Digital Workshops

Bring the Power of Positive Coaching to your school or organization today, by inquiring about our NEW! Positive Coaching Digital Workshops. This online platform ensures that Positive Coaching can reach every team or organization, regardless of your size or location.

Please send an email to register for access. This offer includes:

  • 13-Lesson Instruction with Dr. McGuire Teaching Positive Coaching
    • Lesson #1:  Introduction to Positive Coaching
    • Lesson #2:  “Thinking Right in Sport!”
    • Lesson #3:  The Scientific Foundations of Positive Coaching
    • Lesson #4:  Stage 1 – Discover the Calling
    • Lesson #5:  Stage 2 – Build the Foundation
    • Lesson #6:  Building a Construction Model for Positive Coaching
    • Lesson #7:  Stage 3 – Cultivate Positive and Caring Relationships
    • Lesson #8:  Stage 4 – Empower Growth Mindsets
    • Lesson #9:  Critical Conditions for Achieving Fulfilling Team Experiences
    • Lesson #10:  Stage 5 – Inspire Passionate Hearts
    • Lesson #11:  Teaching the Skill of Focus
    • Lesson #12:  Developing Mentally Tough Athletes
    • Lesson #13:  Stage 6 – Produce and Achieve Optimal Performances
  • Each Lesson includes Video Instruction, Text, & Evaluative Quizzes
  • Ideal for Continuing Coaches’ Education & Professional Development, New Coach Orientation, & Coach Remediation
  • $1,500 with a $500 Annual Renewal Fee
  • Includes 2 Hardcopy Companion Manuals of “The Power of Positive Coaching” & 2 Copies of “Winning Kids With Sport!”
  • Become a Positive Coaching School Today!

Optimize the Principles of Positive Coaching to drive lasting, constructive cultural change in your school or organization through the “Proud to be a Positive Coaching School (or Organization)” program! Joining the “Proud to be a Positive Coaching School” program is a statement of intention to learn, model, and teach the Principles of Positive Coaching. The only criteria to join is a desire to transform your school or organizational culture into one of “Winning Kids with Sport” and an intentional approach to having Positive Coaching live in your school or organization.

How to Become a Positive Coaching School:

  1. A superintendent, principal, athletic director, or designated leader communicates in writing to the Institute your Intention to become a Positive Coaching School, and your Commitment to learn, model, and teach the Principles of Positive Coaching.
  2. Develop a Positive Coaching mission statement that is individualized to your school and reflects the Intention and Commitment to being a Positive Coaching School.
  3. Communicate this Intention, Commitment, Mission, and the Principles of Positive Coaching to the entire school and any other interested parties.
  4. Develop a plan for implementation, development, and maintenance of a Positive Coaching culture in the school and athletic department.
  5. All coaches commit to annually attend at least one educational experience related to Positive Coaching, including workshops, in-service professional days, etc.
  6. The Athletic Director will conduct a meeting with the full coaching and athletic support staff at the beginning of each season to review the Intention, Commitment, and Mission to drive alignment on the implementation of Positive Coaching in your school.
  7. The school will develop a review and evaluation process to ensure the effectiveness of the implementation of Positive Coaching, and make adjustments as needed.
  8. The school will engage in the intentional hiring of Positive Coaches. New coaches will be informed of the Intention, Commitment, and Mission to Positive Coaching in your school, and will have access to educational materials from the Institute, including our online “Power of Positive Coaching Digital Workshop.”
  9. Athletic leaders will initiate the intentional creation of a culture that supports Positive Coaching, where coaches are celebrated for their efforts for living and applying the Principles of Positive Coaching.
  10. Communicate and demonstrate your commitment to Positive Coaching by addressing coaches – immediately and directly – who are not upholding the Principles of Positive Coaching. Their behavior cannot be tolerated!
  11. Proudly display your own “Proud to be a Positive Coaching School” banner(s) prominently in your school!

Master’s Degree in Positive Coaching

Coaches are one of the cornerstones in the development of our young people. Coaches use their imagination, ingenuity, and understanding of sport to unlock the potential for growth and development on their fields. Coaches are role models that facilitate lessons, which extend beyond the field and influence the world. If you are interested in coaching, teaching, inspiring and molding our young people into the next generation of successful young people, this degree is right for you!

About the Program

  • 30 credit hours, offered completely online with no campus visits required. Courses range from 8 weeks in the summer session to 16 weeks in the spring and fall sessions.

  • Learn how to teach and model the process of being a success. This program places a great deal of emphasis on teaching young people how to strive for excellence and win through delivering optimal performance. Courses are focused on consistently communicating with respect, providing proper instruction, inspiring and motivating young people; all while protecting the self worth of every athlete, and shaping the individual will without breaking the spirit!
  • Adopt new approaches to real-world challenges through focused attention on critical issues for coaches and sport leaders such as: the scientific foundations of training for high performance; the ethical, legal, administrative, gender, and multi-cultural issues related to sport and coaching; and utilizing the influence of sport and the coach to create a more positive and productive total school and institutional environment.

Who Can Benefit?

The Positive Coaching master’s is an online degree designed for coaches, educators and other professionals who work with children and adolescents through school and local community athletic programs or in health roles. Ideal for coaches, teachers, counselors, nurses, administrators and community program coordinators. The Positive Coaching degree gives educators the tools to help students and athletes focus on and develop a winning attitude, no matter how unique their endeavors.

Not ready to start a degree program?

You can take individual courses as a post-baccalaureate student for professional development or to help decide if the MEd in positive coaching is right for you.


Staff Bios

Dr. Rick McGuire, Founder and Director – “Coach”

Rick McGuire

Dr. Rick McGuire is the Director of the Missouri Institute for Positive Coaching. He recently retired as the Director of Sport Psychology for Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Missouri, and Graduate Professor of Sport Psychology in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology.  For 27 years (1983-2010) he was Missouri’s Head Track and Field Coach. Under McGuire’s tutelage, Missouri athletes earned 143 All American recognitions, 110 conference champions, 29 USA National Team members, 7 NCAA Champions, 3 collegiate records, and 5 Olympians, with two winning Olympic Silver Medals.  He is the founder and was the chairman for 27 years of the USA Track and Field Sport Psychology program, and served on the staff for 11 USATF National Teams, including the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games in Barcelona and Atlanta.  Rick also served as a member of the NCAA Track and Field Committee, and was President of the NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Coaches in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.  In 2014, the USTFCCCA awarded Rick with their highest honor, the George Dales Award, for lifetime service, achievement and contribution to the coaching profession. In 2016, Rick was inducted into the University of Missouri’s Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.

As a professor, Rick established Missouri’s graduate masters and doctoral programs in Sport Psychology, along with providing a popular undergraduate sport psychology class.  For these efforts he has been recognized with the Missouri Students Association Award for Outstanding Teaching, and the College of Education’s Pillar of Excellence Award for receiving the High Flyers Awards for Teaching Excellence for 15 consecutive years.  He was also honored with the University of Missouri Alumni Association’s prestigious Faculty-Alumni Award.

Rick has been a significant contributor to the cause of coaches’ education, has written extensively, and is a prominent speaker at coaches’ organizations meetings, clinics and seminars.  He has established the “Missouri Institute for Positive Coaching” to support, study, research, teach, promote and in all ways encourage the importance and the impact of highly effective positive coaching.

Rick is a founding member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), was in the initial class of AASP Certified Consultants, and has been honored with the recognition of AASP Fellow.  He is a long-standing member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Division 47, and received the Bruce Ogilvie Award for Distinguished Practitioner. For over 30 years he has been a member of the United States Olympic Committee’s Sport Psychology Registry.  He received his doctorate in 1983 from the University of Virginia, where he studied under Bob Rotella, world renown golf sport psychology consultant.

Rick has numerous publications, including his most recent 2016 work The Power of Positive Coaching, and his 2012 ground breaking books, From the Whistle to the Snap: Winning the Mental Game of Football! and  Winning Kids With Sport: Teach … Model … Practice … Inspire.

Rick and his wife Jane continue to make their home in Columbia, MO, while their two adult children, Wendy and Mick, live and work in the San Francisco area.

Dr. Craig Martin, Assistant Director

Craig Martin

Dr. Craig Martin was a high school state champion wrestler who decided he wanted to teach and coach.  Craig spent 16 years as a classroom science teacher, and coached wrestling for 4 years, basketball for 20 years, football for 11 years, and soccer for 1 year.  After a successful teaching career, Craig became a middle school administrator, finishing his career as the Principal of Smithton Middle School in Columbia, MO.  After retiring from public school education, Craig joined the staff of the Missouri Institute for Positive Coaching, and serves as the Assistant Director and the Coordinator for the Positive Coaching School Program.

Dr. Brian Brown – Assistant Director

Brian Brown

Brian Brown was born and raised in New Iberia, Louisiana.  He graduated from Northwestern State University with a BS degree in Industrial Technology and Safety.
While competing for Northwestern (La.) State, Brown won the 1989 U.S. Outdoor Championships with a 7ft 7in jump and won the 1990 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with a personal best jump of 7 feet 8 inches.

While competing professionally in track and field as a high jumper, Brown was ranked seven times in the top ten U.S. high jump list during his distinguished career, climaxed by being ranked No. 2 in the U.S. in 1997 and 1998 and as well as No. 9 in the world in 1998.

Brown received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri in 1995 and completed his doctoral degree in May 2005 from Mizzou.  Brian is married to the Mizzou’s Associate Head Track and field coach, Natasha Kaiser-Brown, a 1992 Olympic Silver Medalist.  Brian and Natasha have three children, Elle (17 years), Quinton (15 years old) and Kristian (14 years old).

Brian says that the biggest impact on his life has been his faith, family and his friends.

Dr. Pat Ivey –  Associate Athletic Director for Student Athlete Health and Performance at the University of Louisville

Pat Ivey

Pat Ivey was named the National Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2013. In 2009, Ivey was also awarded the Major Mick Deaver Award for fostering good relations with students at the University of Missouri. These awards preceded his completion of a Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from the University of Missouri in 2013. In 2012, Ivey attained the status of Master Strength and Conditioning Coach from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association and co-authored his first book Complete Conditioning for Football.

From 2010 to 2015, Pat Ivey oversaw the Men for Men program at Mizzou. This program provided social responsibility and leadership training for all the male student athletes at the University of Missouri.

In 2011, Pat Ivey was named Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Performance for the University of Missouri, overseeing Strength and Conditioning, Applied Performance (Sport Science), Sports Nutrition, and Corrective Biomechanics departments. From 2004 to 2011, Ivey was the Director of Strength and Conditioning and Assistant Director of Athletic Performance. From 2002 to 2004, Ivey served as the Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of Tulsa. From 2000 to 2002, he was the Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of Missouri.

Pat Ivey lettered as a defensive end at Missouri from 1993-95. He was signed as a free agent by the San Diego Chargers in 1996 and made the practice squad. Beginning in 1998, Ivey worked as a Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, at the University of Missouri. He started his graduate assistantship after spending time with Denver Broncos and during his time with the Green Bay Packers in 1999. While serving as a graduate assistant, Ivey trained several sports including football, track and field, wrestling, and baseball.

On February 15, 2016, Dr. Ivey commenced his current position as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Access and Leadership Development at the University of Missouri. In this role, Dr. Ivey oversees K-12 Programming and Pipelining, Community Engagement, and assists with Legislation Relations.

Dr. Bryan Thomsen, Superintendent – Oak Grove School District

Bryan Thomsen

Dr. Thomsen grew up in Dewitt, Iowa and was a four sport athlete before graduating from Central Dewitt High School in 1988. After graduating High School, Bryan attended Ellsworth Junior College in Iowa Falls, Iowa where he was a standout on the football team that finished his freshman year 3rd in the country and 2nd in the country his sophomore year. Bryan had the opportunity to play in the inaugural Junior College National Championship game in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1989 vs. Navvaro Texas Community College. Bryan was recognized his sophomore year earning 1st team All-American status, both from the NJCAA and J.C. Gridwire. After his time at Ellsworth, Bryan accepted a full-intercollegiate athletic scholarship to attend the University of South Carolina and play football for the Gamecocks. Bryan was a two-year letterman while playing at South Carolina. After his football career, Bryan played slow-pitch softball for Louisville Slugger out of Louisville Kentucky at the super major level.

Dr. Thomsen graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1993 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Bryan also graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a M.S. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism before attending Central Missouri State University and earning an M.S. in Teaching in 2005. He continued his education at St. Louis University where he earned his Doctoral Degree in 2010.

Bryan worked for the Sprint Corporation in Kansas City for several years in their Human Resources Department before taking a position for the Missouri Division of Youth Services as an academic teacher. While working for the Division of Youth Services in Rich Hill, Missouri, Bryan developed a model vocational education program, focused on welding, that is still in operation today. In 2004 Bryan accepted a special education teaching position at Nevada High School in Nevada, Missouri. While at Nevada High School Bryan was promoted to Assistant Principal and then High School Principal. In 2009 Bryan accepted the Superintendent position with the North Callaway School District, located in Kingdom City, Missouri, where he still works today.

Dr. Thomsen previously led the Positive Coaching initiative in the North Callaway School district.  Under his leadership, North Callaway emerged as a model school in the implementation of the Positive Coaching Philosophy.  Their coaches, teachers, staff, and administrators have embraced this innovative program and they have integrated it throughout their entire district.  Dr. Thomsen now serves as the superintendent for the Oak Grove School District where he is also implementing Positive Coaching with his staff and students.

Dr. Thomsen has received several awards and recognitions for his academic accomplishments, athletic achievements, and service for others. In 2015 he was inducted into the Ellsworth Junior College Athletic Hall of Fame. Bryan also raised registered Angus cattle for over ten years while working on his academic career. His wife Brandi played softball at the University of Missouri from 1991-1995 where she was an all-big eight catcher. Together they have three children, Harper, Tully and Turk. His older brother Alyn played basketball at the University of Tulsa and in the CBA for the Lacrosse Catbirds.

Dr. Miranda Walker, Director, Digital Platforms

Miranda Walker

Miranda grew up in Southlake, Texas and graduated from Carroll Senior High School.  Miranda was a multiple state champion competing for the Carroll Dragon cross country and track teams.  On the national level, she individually qualified for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships her junior and senior years.  She had a third place finish at the Nike Team Nationals meet helping her team make school history with a third place finish overall.

Miranda continued her athletic career at the University of Arkansas.  During her tenure as a razorback, she was honored as an SEC athlete of the week, was a part of three first place conference champion teams, was a four-time recipient of the SEC academic honor roll, earned multiple All-Region team and individual honors, and became a four time national qualifier in cross country.  She also served as a team captain her senior year.  Miranda graduated from the University of Arkansas with a B.A. in Psychology.

Miranda earned her Master’s Degree in May of 2014 from the University of Missouri in Counseling Psychology, with a focus in Sport Psychology. She also earned her Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from the University of Missouri in 2018.  She previously served as a Graduate student for the Missouri Institute for Positive Coaching working under the direction of Dr. Rick McGuire.  Currently, Miranda works with both Mental Performance and Mizzou Made Student Athlete Development within the university’s athletic department.  

Dr. Amber Lattner – High Performance Consultant

Amber Lattner

As a former Division I college soccer player at the University of Notre Dame where she graduated magna cum laude and corporate human resources professional, Amber understands the mental toughness it takes to be successful in sport, in work, and in life. With an expertise in human performance and sport psychology, Amber leverages her former athletic and corporate business experiences to challenge others’ current ways of thinking and unlock their personal potential for achievement.

Amber completed her PhD at the University of Missouri in Applied Sport Psychology, where she also received a certification in Positive Psychology. Her dissertation, entitled, “When the Lights Go Out, How Do They Turn Back On?: A Grounded Theory on the Transition Out of the National Football League,” integrated former players’ transition experiences into a 3-model theory that can be used as an educational/training framework or a crisis intervention model. She also holds a master’s degree in Sport & Performance Psychology from the University of Denver, where her thesis assessed the correlation between mental toughness and leadership behaviors of Division I college football players. Amber coaches teams and individuals to optimal performance in both sport and business, and believes in a strengths-based approach to optimizing human potential amid challenging environments. Combined, her expertise is in optimizing human performance by training others’ in how their brain works and how to use it to position them to be successful.

Amber serves as a mental performance consultant to Notre Dame football.  She also serves as a partner with Positive Coaching, Inc. where they train coaches in the Power of Positive Coaching and how to “Win Kids With Sport!” Additionally, she worked on the world-class Mental Conditioning team at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, where youth to professional-level athletes, coaches, military, and business people are trained in the high performance mindset.