Regardless of a recreation department’s size, keeping tabs on all the coaches overseeing teams can be a daunting task. That is why the recreation departments of both Reynoldsburg and Grove City in Ohio have been relying on an innovative online feature provided by the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) to keep up-to-date on how their volunteer youth sports coaches are performing.
Both Reynoldsburg and Grove City Parks and Recreation have been using NAYS’ anonymous online coach evaluation feature to monitor parents’ opinions of their child’s youth coaches. NAYS’ Coach Rating System allows league coaches to provide a digital link for parents to evaluate their coaching performance anonymously.
“It definitely helps me with being a small department because I don’t have the ability to meet with coaches on a daily or even weekly basis, so getting that feedback is imperative,” said Jason Gandee, recreation supervisor for Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation. “Too often people wait until something bad happens to tell me what they thought about a coach.”
This rating feature is accessible to any community or league that trains their coaches through NAYS’ volunteer coaches training program, the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA). Both Reynoldsburg and Grove City are active members of NYSCA, which means their volunteer youth sports coaches have attended an NYSCA training clinic, have agreed to adhere to the NYSCA Code of Ethics and are eligible to receive all the benefits associated with NYSCA membership.
“Not only did we want to ensure all the coaches received uniform training, but we also wanted to show the community that we wanted to provide coaches who were certified to teach their children,” said Michael Craig, recreation sports coordinator for Grove City Parks and Recreation.
Not only do both these communities train their coaches through the NYSCA, but volunteers must also pass criminal background checks before being approved to coach. Such measures have become common place today in response to the wave of poor adult behavior in youth sports that seems to have swept the nation.
“First they need to fill out a coaching application,” Craig said. “We then look to see whether or not they have completed NAYS training, assess their knowledge of the game, perform a national background check and double check that we haven’t received numerous negative comments about the coach.”
But once coaches hit the field administrators must still monitor their performance to ensure they are living up to the NYSCA Code of Ethics. NAYS’ coach rating feature allows for recreation professionals like Gandee and Craig to do just that with simply a few clicks of a mouse.
The coach rating feature provides parents with a platform to address their concerns about their child’s coach and offer constructive criticism in a non-confrontational manner. Coaches can use the system to evaluate what they are doing really well and what aspects of their role they need to spend more time on.
“It’s so helpful to gain that insight,” Gandee said. “At the end of the season we send an email to each specific team with a link to their coach’s rating section.”
The link can either be placed within an email or posted directly on a league or organization’s Web site. The questions hit all the key coaching areas, such as safety, sportsmanship and how well they teach skills, among others.
Coaches can log on and see how parents rated them. While the parents’ answers are confidential, coaches can see their average scores in each category.
Consequently, if a coach sees that he scored low in a particular area he can focus more of his efforts on improving that particular aspect, which can help reduce the chances of problems carrying over to the field on game day. Additionally, positive scores are just as valuable because they enable coaches to know that how they are interacting with the players and handling the season is right on track.
“It’s nice that the parents can go in anonymously and rate their coach and not feel like he/she will hold it against their kid,” said Craig. “The rating system can also act as a positive reinforcement for coaches if parents feel the coach is adding a positive environment to the program. They give you the opportunity to receive critical feedback from parents and players involved in the program. It also allows you to weed out coaches who are bringing a negative attitude to the program.”
NAYS encourages all coaches to have their team parents evaluate their performance to help avoid awkward confrontations at games or practices. Parent evaluations serve as a great tool for coaches to attain useful and immediate feedback on how they are performing at anytime during the season. League administrators have full access to evaluators’ identities and results, while coaches can only see anonymous overall results.
This rating system is just one of the many online features available to communities that train their coaches through the NYSCA. Administrators in NYSCA member leagues have access to the Chapter Management System, which organizes pertinent information on coaches, such as background check results and the status of individual NYSCA memberships. Member coaches have access to various online skills and drills, as well as to the NYSCA Coaching Forum.
“We have a very small department; I am the only full-time staff member who does recreation,” said Gandee. “Making things more efficient makes my job easier and allows me to make improvements to our league.”