A lot has changed in youth sports in recent years, including an increase in youth sports burnout, more kids specializing in one sport, and more kids using dangerous performance enhancing drugs to get a step up on the competition. Add these issues to the traditional concerns around things like hazing, anxieties associated with injury recovery, and coping with playing time issues, and you can see that today’s youth coach has a lot to contend with in order to provide kids a fun, safe, and meaningful youth sport experience. Unfortunately, with all of these changes and new youth sport landscape, far too many coaches are lagging behind with contemporary sport science training, resulting in problems between coaches and parents that often impact kids.
“Time and money” are almost always the reasons why more youth leagues today still do not offer ongoing, quality continuing education for their coaches. Instead, most leagues simply hope their volunteer coaches will be equipped to handle the job, and if there are problems they won’t be serious. Unfortunately, in too many instances adult coaches these days struggle to keep up with many of these sport psychology issues — not because they are bad coaches or irresponsible adults, but instead because of how much has changed since they played sports. It is for these reasons that leagues are urged to examine all the options available today and steer away from allowing time and money to prevent quality training from occurring.
The good news is that with today’s technology available, no longer are the old “brick and mortar training” issues still a concern (saving on time and money). No longer do coaches have to physically drive to a building and sit there for hours as newer, computer-based training is available that lets coaches learn at their own pace — as well as go back to the modules when they need to reference information.
Encourage your team or league to seriously investigate the idea of introducing quality coach training, not as a punitive measure, but instead to help coaches identify and respond to problems quickly and efficiently. By taking a proactive approach, fewer problems will occur and ultimately more kids will have an enjoyable and meaningful sport experience.