When we look at youth sports participation numbers in the US, we see a decline in sport participation. In 2008, 58.6% of children age 6-11 played a team sport at least once a year, but by 2013 that was down to 52.2%. That translates to over 2.6 million fewer kids age 6-11 participating in sports. That, my friends, is a problem!
So how do we solve this issue? I wish I knew but one area we can work on is the adults that are involved with these young kids. Coaches are the gatekeepers of sports. The coach of a team has the ability to make each experience a positive experience...or a negative one. We entrust a child's love of sport and participation in a healthy activity to a coach. As a parent, it is important to look for a few things in a coach. They are as follows:
If a coach doesn't have all, or most, of these qualities, it could hamper your child's enjoyment. If they aren't able to acquire an interest and understanding of the sport at a young age, it is going to be hard to convince them to give the sport another try as they grow up. If we want to put an end to this decline in participation, we as coaches need to provide a better experience. Be a role model. Respect your athletes. Motivate them to be the best they can be.