Coaching Youth Sports

Coaching youth sports can be both challenging and very rewarding. As a coach and mentor, the impact that you make on your athletes will last well beyond their years of athletic participation.

While there are many benefits for young athletes, alarming statistics have emerged that concern injuries, detrimental parental influences, and high dropout rates. Here we'll take a look at the impact of sport participation on young athletes and the coach’s role in providing a positive experience.

Coaching Youth Sports: Your Impact

As a role model and leader of children, you have the chance to impact young athletes in a positive way by providing the chance to: 

  • Lead physical activities that provide healthy living 
  • Teach athletes to develop of motor skills that will serve them well in future sport participation and recreational activities. 
  • Provide psychosocial development opportunities to learn important life skills such as cooperation, self-discipline, and self-control, citizenship, positive peer relations, and leadership skills.

Although youth sport clearly provides opportunities for positive outcomes, research suggests that these positive outcomes are not necessarily automatic.

As a coach, be sensitive to the increasing incidence of sport-related injuries and eating disorders among young athletes that are gaining increased attention.

Consider, too, other negative effects that coaches and parents may contribute to. Are you aware that young athletes:

  • often feel excessive pressure to win,
  • perceive themselves as having poor abilities,
  • feel unattached to their teams, and
  • feel vulnerable in the presence of teammates?

Negative experiences may account for extremely high drop out rates during adolescence, with an estimated one third of all participants between 10 and 17 years of age withdrawing from sport programs every year.  Among the negative psychological effects are:

  • low self- confidence and low self-esteem.
  • poor sportsmanship, and 
  • acts of violence and aggression have become common in youth sport settings. 

As a responsible leader in your sport, you also have to be prepared to deal with parents of young athletes.  

This video takes a hard look at the some of the issues that face children who participate in sports.

Certainly, there are many responsibilities and issues when children are involved in sports. Fortunately, there are lots of resources that provide sound guidance for youth sport coaches.  Here are just a few from respected professional organizations:

AAHPERD Position Statement

NASPE Position Statement: Requisites for Sport Coaches

NYSCA Coaching Youth Sports Training Course

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