We have 150 years of research in the field of education, however barely any of it is being applied to youth sports. But why? Aren’t young athletes students? Aren’t coaches educators? Don’t parents have the same expectations for their kids in school as they do on the ball fields? So shouldn’t we be applying best practices from the classrooms on the ball fields?
Back To School Night….for Coaches and Parents
The beginning of the school year always starts with Back To School Night, the perfect opportunity for a teacher to set expectations, an agenda and the tone for the year. I like to use the same strategy with the teams I coach. I typically get the team parents together, set the tone and talk about goals for the kids. I always emphasize skill development but remind parents that encouraging life skills, fun and a love for the game are equally important.
I also set the important expectations that parents should not coach from the sidelines. It’s not that I’m a control freak, it’s just that countless studies have taught us all the reasons why kids benefit when their parents stay quiet on the sidelines. (More on this topic in another article). But the most important point is to use a “Back to School Night” to get coach and parents on the same page.
Parent-Teacher Conferences…at the Ball fields
Every school holds periodic Parent-Teacher Conferences so teachers can share feedback and get parents to help in areas where their kids need it most. And since almost every school district now has an online parent portal, there’s no excuse for parents and teachers to not be on the same page. If parents and teachers are collaborating to accelerate student achievement, why are we not applying this in youth sports?
Parent-Coach conferences do happen at the ball fields but unfortunately, they are usually the “unscheduled” variety where a heated parent confronts a coach to find out why their kid didn’t get more playing time or didn’t make the travel team. And coaches HATE this. So let’s apply what we know works in the classroom. Pro-active player feedback and regular coach communication would do wonders for coaches and parents….and would likely avoid the dreaded coach-parent arguments. And with all of the great youth sports software coming to market, we now have “parent portals” for youth sports.
Report Cards….for Youth Athletes
Could you imagine if your child’s school told you that they would no longer be sharing report cards, test scores or quiz scores with you? Would you ever accept that? So then why do we pay thousands of dollars for our kids’ youth sports programs and accept coaches that do not provide objective assessments and feedback? I’m not suggesting that every kid is on a path to scholarship, but rather, feedback can help at every skill level so we can understand where we can help our kids build their skills.
Core Standards…in Youth Sports
Every state in the U.S. subscribes to federal or local education standards to ensure that students are on a path to success. In fact, educators are trained to tie their curriculum, tests and quizzes directly to the core standards. Why then don’t we have core standards in youth sports?
Wouldn’t it help to have some guidelines that are specific to sport, age and gender to help us guide our kids? Today, every coach and trainer in the US is teaching to a different set of skills that he/she has in their head. And certainly, when they are assessing players at tryouts, they are not using any consistent, objective, transparent standards….so it’s no wonder tryout season is the most terrifying time of year for the kids and their parents.
>Ian Goldberg is a sports dad, coach and the Founder of iSport360. His SportsTech company helped over 100,000 youth sport coaches, parents and kids keep their teams connected, active and strong….through the COVID-19 lockdown and as we return to play.
Bottom Line: iSport360 supports bringing best practices from the classroom to the ball fields. And have developed tools to help make that process easier for coaches, for parents….and of course, for our kids. Download their app for free or learn more here today.