Linda Alberts, Public Relations Coordinator
National Alliance for Youth Sports
As of just a few days ago, one of our NYSCA Member features hit a huge milestone – the 10,000th coach evaluation was submitted through Rate Your Coach. I like to think that one evaluation at a time, Rate Your Coach is playing a part in improving the quality of coaching in youth sports.
My observation is simple: you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.
Let’s say a volunteer coach is unaware that they’re not spending enough time on stretching or is underestimating the frequency of water breaks their players need. Do you really think they’re doing this on purpose? I don’t.
But how can the coach know something is wrong if they’re not given any feedback?
Even more, I think the traditional practice of an end-of-season coach evaluation is way off base. By the time the parent completes the evaluation, the damage has been done. Their kid has already endured whatever the problem is all season long and – worst case scenario – is turned off from sports for the long-term.
I remember speaking to a first-time coach a while back, Coach Sarah from Ohio. She was coaching a 10 and under girls soccer team and she was having some struggles with running drills smoothly. She received some evaluations a couple weeks into the season with the feedback there was too much downtime during practice with the girls standing around while she worked out the kinks of the drills.
Coach Sarah didn’t stomp her feet and get offended at this news. What she did was figure out a way to work out the problems that have been slowing down practice time. She made an effort to get to practices early and set up drills before her players got there.
She told me that she was thankful to have that feedback provided to her during the beginning of the season so that she had time to correct her problems. When I think of her story, I believe that the season wasn’t only saved for those young soccer players, but for the new coach, too.
That’s why the National Alliance for Youth Sports has launched the Measure Up! for Better Youth Sports movement, an initiative to educate youth sports administrators, coaches and parents on the importance of conducting two evaluations during the season – one two weeks into the season and another at the mid-way point. This way any problems going on during the season are addressed and corrected as soon as possible, and hopefully give each kid a safe and fun season.
And evaluations don’t always have to be a delivery method for “bad” news. Parents can also share with the coach or league administrator if the coach is doing an awesome job. Although, I know that’s the kind of message any coach would love to hear face-to-face, too.