Reviews and Comments about Really Winning

Really WinningReally Winning: Using Sports to Develop Character and Integrity in Our Boys.
Published in 2002 by St. Martin’s Press.

Available on

Really Winning is a book that falls under the field of boy psychology and the growing field of sport parenting. Unlike many authors who are responding to the decay in sportsmanship in youth sports, Mastrich provides an in-depth understanding of how the sports context offers a unique opportunity for adults to understand and guide boys in becoming healthy and strong men. It is evident that Mastrich is clearly knowledgeable and experienced in the field as his solid understanding of boys and men carries the book…Really winning is an important contribution to understanding and working with boys in sports and in general.

Reviewed by Richard Ginsburg, Ph.D., Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School for ESPNews, 17(3), Fall 2003.

Jim Mastrich puts his many years of counseling experience into his latest book. Really Winning is an excellent guide for parents and coaches. It makes a convincing case that organized sports is a forum to develop character and integrity in boys from childhood through early adulthood.

Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley and author of Values of the Game

Parents, coaches, and educators often talk about sports, character, and integrity and how these factors influence young people. But in Really Winning, Jim Mastrich has done a masterful job in pinpointing the problems and in identifying the solutions in this key area of athletic and emotional development.

Rick Wolff, Chairman, The Center for Sports Parenting

Really Winning is a real winner. The timing could not be better for helping parents and coaches to take stock of sports programs for boys and young men and to demand that they be rededicated for the purpose of helping young athletes to have fun and develop character. Dr. Mastrich offers a very useful guide for this purpose. Really Winning is a tool to use with boys of all ages.

Fred Engh, Founder and President of the National Alliance For Youth Sports and author of Why Johnny Hates Sports

Dr. Mastrich encourages parents and coaches to become more accountable for the influence they can have on boys and young men and on the sport activities in which they are involved. Really Winning is an intelligent and accessible book that parents and coaches will want to refer to again and again.

Michael Gurian, Author of The Wonder of Boys and A Fine Young Man

If you are looking for a ‘quick fix’ recipe approach to motivating your ‘boys’ look elsewhere. This book concerns itself with the basic building blocks to character, integrity, and yes, better performance. Really Winning is full of common sense and is a terrific resource for the coach who is serious about creating a fun, safe environment for boys to develop in. It is a book for coaches who truly care about the boys under their care.

Peter Jensen Ph.D., Olympic Performance Coach and Author of The Inside Edge

Jim reveals the pitfalls to which many coaches and parents are vulnerable. In Really Winning he presents effective solutions by exploring the psychology of coaching and parenting boys. Really Winning is a practical handbook that is a must read for coaches and parents.

Tom Lopes, Veteran Referee of 14 consecutive NCAA Basketball Tournaments, Final Four Official in 1995.

In Really Winning Dr. Mastrich points to an area in need of much attention – the need for society to place greater emphasis on developing good character in boys – and he shows the way that sports can be used to get the job done. I urge parents and coaches to take heed of the message in this timely book.

Leonard Coleman, Former President of the National League of Major League Baseball

In an era where debate rages on what is appropriate behavior at all levels of sports competition, Dr. James Mastrich has come forth with a new book that offers insights and real solutions to parents, coaches, athletes and even fans. “Really Winning: Using Sports to Develop Character and Integrity in Our Boys,” is almost a self-help book for those involved in sports in all age groups. It takes readers on a journey to discovering, then dealing with issues that have been simmering for years. The book’s goal, as the author writes, is to take on the problem of “organized sports all too often producing young men who are characters, instead of young men with character.” From the T-ball coach starting out to the high school coach looking to inspire his players, “Really Winning” can be a valuable tool in teaching young boys and men how to benefit from sports competition.

Eric Sondheimer, Sports Columnist, Los Angeles Times

Dr. James Mastrich is an experienced clinician and author who has integrated aspects of developmental and sport performance psychology in his book ‘Really Winning’. His philosophy for developing integrity in boys is empowering, yet practical. Dr. Mastrich offers useful and concise strategies for helping parents and coaches to mentor our boys, while also helping them to reach their fullest potentials as young men. The adage that ‘sports builds character’ has been in decline in recent decades. However, Dr. Mastrich shows us that supervised sport participation can still build character in boys, and that athletes can be role models again. This book is a must read for coaches, teachers, or parents who want to play a more active role in the moral development of their boys.

Mickey C. Melendez, Ph.D., Sports Psychology Consultant and Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology, Rutgers University

With the precision of a scientist, the insights of a coach and the passion of a parent, Dr. Mastrich gives the reader an extremely informative and useful guide on how youth sports can be conducted in a way that helps boys become mature men of character. Really Winning teaches us important facts about the physiology and psychology of boys and suggests practical strategies for using sports to build better communities and better people. This is a valuable book well worth reading.

Michael Josephson, founder of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition and the Pursuing Victory With Honor sports initiative.

“Really Winning” offers an insightful look into the psychology of boys and provides powerful advice on how to use sports to empower and enrich the lives of these young men.

Caroline Silby, Ph.D., Sports Psychologist, Author of Games Girls Play and former member of the United States Figure Skating Team.

When I think back on my days as a coach, the hits, errors, a great relay, missed chances to score a goal – these all pretty much fade for me. What I remember most is the opportunity I had to help shape the lives of some extraordinary young people, that is, all of the kids on all of my teams. If you’ve been a really great coach of young boys, you’ll begin to know when they start to hit their twenties. Really Winning can help you be a great coach by helping you understand the boys you are working with, and help you understand what really winning really means. Jim Mastrich’s accomplishment with this work is laudable.

Jeffrey Smith, Ph.D., Professor of Educational Psychology, Rutgers University

Integrity is the ultimate winner in Jim Mastrich’s Really Winning. Mastrich’s personal anecdotes, important understanding of boy’s psychology, a correct boy-centered philosophical approach, and a critique of the current sports mentality makes this a must read compendium for school and youth-group officials, athletic directors, parents, and coaches of boys. Really Winning is a call to action for putting into play sage advice and for implementing a sports code of conduct based on common sense and common decency. Valuing boys’ character development over winning at all cost will lead to true winners.

Carlton H. Tucker, Head of Upper School of Princeton Day School

It’s truly difficult to overstate the need and importance of a book like Really Winning. Yes, it’s a book about youth sports and it’s a book about winning. But Jim’s down-to-earth message is serious–and, oh, so seriously needed–and applies far beyond our children’s games and fields of play. With its practical wisdom and advice for helping us transform our impressionable boys into really good, responsible men, this book should be on anyone’s shortlist of timely and essential character-building resources. Do yourselves and your sons a life-enriching service–read this book.

Russell Gough, Ph.D., Professor of Ethics, Pepperdine University and author of Character Is Everything: Promoting Ethical Excellence in Sports, and Character Is Destiny: The Value of Personal Ethics in Everyday Life.

Really Winning should be required reading for all coaches in youth organizations and for all active parents. The title truly does reflect the perspective of the book and the focus is on what youth sports were originally designed to accomplish.

Don Harnum, Men’s Basketball Coach, Rider University

Dr. Mastrich explains in easy to understand language how parents and coaches can help children get the most benefit from the sports experience. Helping them become better all-around people who feel good about themselves is an achievable goal thanks to the practical help in Really Winning.

Mike Schapiro, Cofounder of the SAGE (Set A Good Example) Sportsmanship Program & The Kindness Counts Foundation