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Billie Jean King's Message To Coaches

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Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) -- a 2009 recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor – is perhaps more responsible than any other individual for the gains in women’s and girls’ sports throughout the last 50 years. She has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice, founding the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Women’s Tennis Association, and defeating Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match.

King won 39 Grand Slam titles during her career, a statistic partially responsible for the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, being renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. She serves on the boards of the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Andy Roddick Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation and is a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

In this video, King explains that the thing youth athletes need above all is a sense that their coaches care about them as people. She urges coaches to ensure that children do not attach their self-worth to athletic achievement. Athletes who know their coaches care will "run through walls."

King also emphasizes the importance of allowing athletes their space and asking many questions, rather than necessarily telling them all the coach thinks they need to know. Adopting the athlete's own vocabulary is key, so that athletes can "hear their own voices" --a trait critical for future success in sports and beyond. Finally, "If you can have a child believe in's everything."