The Challenge of Recruiting and Training Good Coaches

The Trusted Coaches team has well over 100 years of combined experience serving in leadership positions for youth sports organizations. Various members have held titles such as Executive Director, President, Vice President, Area Director, Travel Director, Coaching Coordinator, Tryout Supervisor, etc. Team member expertise is primarily with community-based programs that employ volunteer coaches. Each team member sees the recruitment and training of youth coaches as the top priority of their youth sports organization.

Professional and college teams with the best talent usually win championships so the selection of athletes dictates which programs are successful. In youth sports, it is how you recruit, train and support coaches that correctly predicts how successful a program will be. Outside of the athletes’ parents, good coaches have always been some of the most important people in our children’s lives. The challenges of recruiting and training youth coaching include:

Challenge #1:  Finding coaches that are child-centered and can “smile and mean it”

This sounds self-evident but it is not. If youth coaches can’t walk into a gym or on a playing field and smile at each young athlete and mean it they should not coach children. Even if they were a collegiate or professional athlete, if coaches are not energized and inspired by the idea of helping children experience “aha” moments as they learn new skills and build important relationships, it will be a long and dreary season for the kids, their parents and certainly the youth coach.

“Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care” is a cliché that happens to be true. Children know when youth coaches are not excited about the gains that the team or the individual players are making and instead are just going through the motions. Plain and simple, young athletes won’t learn from coaches they don’t like or trust.

Challenge #2:  Finding coaches who can discover the rewards in coaching

“Think of all the time, energy, and sacrifice it takes to coach. Why do you do it? What is the purpose of your coaching?” – Joe Ehrmann

The reality of volunteer coaches is that many volunteered because they wanted their own child to have a good experience or were threatened with their child not playing because there was no coach available. The coaches who find purpose beyond just the wins and losses (although that is important) are the ones who succeed and stay with it. “One coach has a chance to impact more young people in one season than the average person does in a lifetime”. When youth coaches have a positive impact on young athletes’ development; it is a gift that keeps on giving – to the athletes, their parents, their future coaches and ultimately the community.

Challenge #3:  Finding coaches is a never-ending job; the art of being relentless

Youth sports suffers from the “revolving door” syndrome where older children are constantly cycling out of your program and taking their parent (who many times happened to be your most experience coach) with them. New athletes are constantly cycling in and bringing with them parents who could potentially coach but have no training or experience. You must be relentless in your search for coaches. Constantly bring up your search with members of your organization and ask about likely coaching candidates. When you discover likely candidates, you must sell, cajole and sometimes beg these “high potentials.” The best way to close the deal with future coaches is to offer a sophisticated program of training and support that offers them the best chance for success.

Challenge #4:  Finding coaches who have already coached and been successful

The old adage “find the busiest person and ask them to help you” holds true in youth coaching. Many coaches move as a coach from one season to the next (e.g. football to basketball to baseball) because they have been identified as being good with kids and understanding how to teach. These are the coaches who know how to organize a practice, teach skills in an understandable way, model sportsmanship, emphasize high character and make teamwork fun and rewarding. These multi-sport coaches will many times turn out be your best recruiters of new coaches because they can best describe the rewards and challenges of youth coaching to their friends and new recruits.

Challenge #5:  Finding coaches who are committed to constantly improving

Good coaches are always open to improving. If potential volunteer coaches resist having to attend coaching clinics or watch online education courses because they already “know it all,” they are probably not the kind of person who will succeed as a youth coach. A fundamental requirement of your youth sports organization should be comprehensive and ongoing coach training. Your volunteer coaches also need to look at coaching as an activity that is worth striving for expertise and excellence and not just about advanced “child-sitting” and avoiding bad situations.

Challenge #6:  Finding coaches who can manage parent expectations

Youth coaches can find themselves under the withering scrutiny of judgmental parents who believe that their child should be the pitcher (quarterback, point guard, striker, etc.) and always start and never come out of the game. Youth coaches must have a strong enough personality to set the expectations of the parents at the beginning of the season about playing time and team goals. They also must have the communication skills to allow parents to share their concerns without personalizing these concerns as criticism. A coach needs to have honest direct communication with parents without changing the team goals or having the parent feeling like you are attacking their child. Coaches also need a youth sport organization that will have their back and resist overly-involved parents.

Challenge #7:  Building the Policies, Procedures and Tools that Help Youth Coaches Succeed

Many times organizations hand their volunteer coaches a ball bag and a practice/game schedule and wish them good luck. Youth sports organizations must be clear and specific about youth coach expectations. That requires a mission statement, job description, parent meeting agenda and guidelines, codes of conduct for players, parent and coaches, evaluation forms, formal training, and on-going support (frequent visits by coaching mentors).

The Answer:

Members of the TC team understand the challenges of recruiting and training coaches because we have walked in your shoes. The Trusted Coaches (TC) program (www.trustedcoaches.org) was created with those facts in mind. To offer the most up-to-date training tools necessary for youth coaches that will allow them to provide our young athletes a safe, positive and productive experience. TC also allows administrators to effortlessly monitor and manage their coaches’ training and development.

TC has four components, which are fundamental to being a successful youth coach. The components include first-aid training, concussion instruction, the Positive Coaching Alliance “Double-Goal” Coach® character education course and a nationwide criminal history background screen.

This entire program is delivered online and can be completed at each coach’s own pace. Upon completion, coaches are issued a TC Verification Card with their color photo. In addition, annual background checks will be available for coaches who have completed TC, as well as Continuing Education options in years two and three of their membership.

TC has also developed Administrative Tools that eliminate the hassle and time of collecting and maintaining any and all coach screening, training and educational paperwork and completion certificates.

The benefits of this program include:

  • powerful techniques presented by leading coaches and sports psychologists
  • necessary training, which minimizes the threat of harm or injury to young athletes
  • a “one-stop shop” for youth organizations to deliver best practices training to their coaches
  • a turnkey administrative system with an online repository that keeps track of coaches’ certifications and renewal dates

TC is expert-designed and is an affordable solution that makes it easy for youth sports organizations to provide the best sports experience possible. The total cost per coach is $35.00 (a $95.00 value if purchased separately).

Volume Discount = $30.00 per coach for sports organizations that send 50 or more coaches through the program (registrations must be purchased at one time).

 For more Trusted Coaches information, please log on to www.trustedcoaches.org. If you would like additional information regarding the Trusted Coaches program, do not hesitate to contact Dawson Blanck (TC Executive Director) at dawson@trustedcoaches.org or 763-746-1719.