CoachingLeadershipYouth Sports

5 #Epic Resources for Youth Coaches

I absolutely love coaching.

Though it comes in at a clear second place to spending time with my beautiful wife and wonderful kids, coaching has been a source of challenge, inspiration, purpose, and joy in my life.

For me, there’s nothing quite like working with a team of players, parents, coaches and community supporters in the pursuit of individual and team development, excellence, and success.

Coaching has been my passion and pursuit for over 20 years. I have been extremely privileged to work alongside some great coaches and honored to have helped develop hundreds of athletes in football and hockey during the course of my coaching journey. Each experience has left its own legacy and the lessons I have learned over time all form a component of my philosophy and my style as a coach.

Coaching has always been rewarding but hasn’t always been an easy to navigate road. To help me do the best job I can for my athletes, I am constantly on the lookout for resources. Lately I have been looking for information to help me better understand not only the X’s and O’s of the sport I am working in, but also critical components of leadership and coaching such as working with parents, developing a positive team culture, and bringing out the best of all kinds of players with a strengths based approach.

The following resources are things I am reading or listening to now as a part of my learning as a coach.

I’d love to hear from coaches and parents out there about any other solid resources you think would benefit me and other youth coaches reading this post. Drop a link in the comment box below the post if you think there’s a site, blog, podcast, or book that should be added to the post.

1. Winning Youth Coaching is Craig Hawotrth’s excellent resource for the mom and dad coach who are looking to have a stellar youth coaching experience. His website features a resource section with information such as book recommendations for youth coaches. The richest piece of this youth coaching resource is the Winning Youth Coaching Podcast. Every week Craig connects with a successful youth coach, from a wide variety of sports, and discusses topics like practice planning, motivating young athletes, strengths based coaching, working with parents and more. As a Canadian youth coach I am pleased to say that Craig’s podcast features a number of Canadian youth sports coaches as well as those from the USA, and beyond. The show is broken into four quarters which each focus on a particular aspect of developing the habits and mindsets of a winning youth coach. Don’t let the name throw you, this isn’t a resource for draconian, cut throat, win at all costs coaching. Craig challenges youth coaches to be athlete centered, prepared, and professional in their approach to all kids, parents, officials, and volunteers involved in making youth coaching a winning experience for all.

2. Positive Coaching Alliance

PCA Founder Jim Thompson’s mission is to create an organization that helps those involved in youth and high school sports create a positive, character-building youth sports culture. The Positive Coaching Alliance has a lofty mission and vision centered around creating a positive youth sports culture in which all kids have a place to play a sport that they enjoy in a safe, caring, and supportive environment. The PCA’s vision for coaches includes the ideas that:

“coaches feel the responsibility not only to teach their players the skills and strategy behind the game, but also a respect for the tradition of the game and for all who are involved (teammates, opponents, officials, and fans). Learning to honor the game contributes to a growing sense of responsibility and maturing moral reasoning that helps athletes prepare to become contributing citizens of the larger community.”

The PCA website has a resource section with over 1155 articles and resources on topics such as tryouts, being a 1st time coach, and navigating parent-coach conflict.

3. Changing the Game Project

The Changing the Game Project is the work of John O’Sullivan. According to the Changing the Game Project website, John’s mission with CTGP is:

“to ensure that we return youth sports to our children, and put the ‘play’ back in ‘play ball.’  We want to provide the most influential adults in our children’s lives – their parents and coaches – with the information and resources they need to make sports a healthy, positive, and rewarding experience for their children, and their whole family.  Parenting and coaching young athletes is an art, not a science, and the information you find here can help you navigate the maze of youth sports, and put a smile on your young athlete’s face, whether he or she is 6 or 16 years old.”

The CTGP site is a portal to an excellent blog with articles like “An Open Letter to the Out of Control Sports Parent Sitting Next to Me in the Stands

and a podcast with topics such as finding your coaching true north, and loving the process of improvement.

4. Own Beat Athlete

Own Beat Athlete is a resource to help coaches “understand their athletes who march to a different beat.” This website is the work of Susan Stout whose bio on the site states:

“Susan brings to the work her perspective as a swimmer, coach, teacher, lawyer and mom to an avid and talented young athlete with ADHD and dyslexia —  and NBA dreams. She is most inspired by her son, who, because of his wiring, has struggled under the demands and expectations of selective sports programs”.

Susan’s work focuses around helping coaches understand and become equipped to help young athletes with ADD/ADHD, anxiety, and learning differences. The site has a Toolkit with 11 tips for coaches working with players with these exceptional traits.

The blog section of the OBA site features stories from athletes (professional to youth sports) regarding their experiences as an athlete with ADD/ADHD, anxiety, or a learning difference. There are letters to coaches in the style of “what I wished my coach knew about me” and also deep dives into each of ODA’s 3 focus areas.

For experienced and novice coaches alike, this information is critical to helping each athlete reach their fullest potential and I am thankful that I came across Susan’s work while listening to an episode of the Tilt Parenting Podcast: Raising Differently Wired Kids.

5. Your Local Sports Authority or Governing Body

Look to your local, provincial/state, and national governing body for the sport you are coaching. As an example I have included links to the resources on the Hockey Alberta website which has valuable information in a variety of formats for hockey coaches of all levels in the province of Alberta, Canada.

Hockey Alberta:

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Greg Esteves

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