Last month I held six clinics for Flag Football Fanatics coaches in the Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati areas. 46 coaches participated in the clinics covering all aspects of coaching in the Flag Football Fanatics league.
I sent a survey to the coaches that participated. 78% of those responding to the survey indicated the material was Very Useful to them. The overall average response to the question asking the coaches to rate the usefulness of the information on a scale of 1-5 (‘Not Useful’ to ‘Incredibly Useful’) was 4.02 (‘Very Useful’).
Further, first year Flag Football Fanatics coaches (my target audience with the Hustle & Attitude clinics) scored the clinics 4.15, taking a particular liking to the discussions concerning the Equipment and dealing with parents and referees. Coaches who were coaching youth recreational sports for the first time found the clinics even more useful – their scores averaging 4.67!
One coach left this feedback: “It was a really good session. You have great perspective about the purpose of rec sports and how to talk and encourage kids (get down on one knee and not coaching my kid different than others). Good humor and you helped me get my head around the big picture of coaching kids. It was time well spent – I would recommend to any new coach”.
This is the second season that I have provided coaching clinics for the Flag Football Fanatics folks. 99 coaches have been exposed to the Hustle & Attitude philosophy as it applies to their specific league. I look forward to spreading the word about best practices in providing positive experiences for children in youth sports through more clinics and this blog (and maybe a book!).
Today I came across a youth recreational basketball league that required parents to read the National Standards for Youth Sports as part of signing their child up for the league. I was a little embarrassed with myself that I was not familiar with these national standards. What kind of youth recreational sports enthusiast am I, right?
So, I did what we all do when we are trying to find information – I Google’d it. Turns out I am familiar with the organization that put the standards together – the National Association for Youth Sports (NAYS). NAYS has been around since 1981 and espouses to be “America’s leading advocate for positive and safe sports for children“. I have followed them on Twitter (@NAYS_edu) for a while and appreciate their content and efforts to provide positive youth recreational sports experiences.
After reviewing the standards, I have the following analysis/commentary: the standards provide welcome guidance for adults – and the children themselves – for ensuring a positive experience; and are very much in line with my Hustle & Attitude philosophy. I think leagues and individuals that adhere to these standards would be well on their way to giving children a fun, safe, and positive sports experience. My specific thoughts on the standards include:
- The age-specific recommendations in Standard #1 seem appropriate; particularly those that recognize different development levels based on age
- I completely agree with the recommendation for training of adults involved in youth recreational sports; I believe that coaches are the most in need of training – and I will be giving my first Hustle & Attitude coaching clinic in December
- One of the most important things our children can learn from their youth recreational sports experiences is good sportsmanship – the essence of Standard #6
- My wife pointed out that the recommendations concerning first-aid certification and CPR qualified personnel being present at all times in Standard #7 are really good; but what responsibility does the league have to provide these resources?
The ‘Equal Play Opportunity’ standard is perhaps my favorite. As I mention in the ‘About’ page, providing equal opportunities for all children to participate in sports is one of the things I am most passionate about. To me, non-discrimination goes without saying, but the implementation items #2, #4, and #5 are the ones that most speak to me. I will have more to say later about how wrong it is that finances would keep a child from playing sports – money should not be an impediment. A key tenet of the Hustle & Attitude philosophy is to provide equal playing time for all participants. And, I have had the privilege of coaching children who were not necessarily diagnosed with a disability, but were developmentally challenged. I call it a privilege because the relationships have been some of the most rewarding in my youth recreational sports coaching career (I believe the feeling is mutual for the children, too).
Overall, I think the National Standards for Youth Sports are a valuable tool in the effort to continue to provide positive youth recreational sports experiences. My Hustle & Attitude philosophy and the practical application is in line with these standards and amplifies many of them.