John O’Sullivan: Changing the Game in Youth Sports

It’s important for young kids to have the chance to try new things. That goes for sports, as well. This week’s guest is coach and author John O’Sullivan, who is the founder and CEO of the Changing the Game Project.

He shares ideas based on years of experience with youth in sports on the individuality of players and children, what they need to find success and fulfillment, and what parents and coaches can do to support them.

Oftentimes, kids can get pigeonholed into playing one sport too competitively at a very young age. But research shows that some of today’s top players were multi-sport athletes when they were young.

Giving kids the room to test the water and find what fits for them is important. After all, no two kids are exactly alike and keeping them interested in and engaged with sports later in life means building a good foundation from the start.

John started the Changing the Game Project in 2012 after two decades as a soccer player and coach on the youth, high school, college and professional level.  He is the author of the #1 bestselling book Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes, and his work has been featured in The Huffington Post,, Outside Magazine,, Soccer America and numerous other publications.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Value athletic over financial ability in access to youth sports
  • Create an environment and conditions where kids have fun playing sports
  • Support kids sampling different sports at a young age
  • Practice intentional culture-building for coaches
  • Evaluate what your role as a parent should be—take a step back or step in and advocate?


“When we model good behavior or we model a right pathway, the other people around us are more likely to do that.” -John O’Sullivan

“Those learning lessons can disappear if a kid never gets to play because now it’s not a lesson anymore; it’s just punishment.” -John O’Sullivan

“It’s not going to be fun if kids don’t get in games. That’s why they’re there.” -John O’Sullivan

“I think every child is an individual. And so, all generalizations end at the individual level.” -John O’Sullivan

“I think in the United States, the biggest challenge is reconciling the business of sport with the needs of the children in sport because right now, those things are very much on opposite sides.” -John O’Sullivan


You can follow John O’Sullivan’s work online at You can also find the project on Twitter and Instagram @CTGProjectHQ.

Learn more about the Way of Champions Conference and order tickets here.

Click here to support the show!

Show Notes:


Order John’s book here.

Facebook Comments

Join the discussion


Episode 3