Youth Sports Culture...Something Needs to Change

Youth Sports Culture...Something Needs to Change


By Ian Goldberg

Founder, iSport360

If you ask the biggest names in youth sports (The Jr. NBA, TeamSnap, US Youth Soccer, US Lacrosse, National Alliance for Youth Sports) what their most pressing challenge is, they will all say “Changing the Culture of Youth Sports” in one form or another.  I know this because I have asked people at the top of these organizations that very question.  Their biggest challenges are not “finding the next Lebron” or “putting together our next olympic team” or “getting athletes to peak performance".  Rather, they are trying to rein in sports parents and coaches so we can get the focus of youth sports back on kids.  (Disclaimer:  I am a youth sport parent and coach who was “that crazy sideline parent” before I was reformed)

What has happened in the last 10 years? 

The youth sports industry has exploded in the last ten years.  But unfortunately, when people think of youth sports, the first images that come to mind are out-of-control sideline parents and the brawls between coaches and refs we see in viral videos.  But underneath that is the wholesome experience that our kids long for….an experience they share with friends that keeps them active, healthy, confident, supported and happy.

Why is this important?  

Because youth sports are at the heart of our nation’s soul.  It’s how so many American families spend their weekends.  It’s where so many childhood memories are made.  It’s where friendships are forged and valuable life lessons are learned.  It’s where we first learn about a sense of “team”, and to respect authority, but also to speak up for ourselves and set our own goals.  And that’s why we need to change the culture of youth sports: so it creates a safe and healthy environment for our kids to thrive, so it gives parents the chance to enjoy watching their kids at play and gives coaches a chance to have real impact on their community.

What do we mean by “Changing The Culture in Youth Sports”:

  • Putting the focus of the industry on kids, not adults.
  • Making sure every kid, at every age or skill level, has the greatest chance of achieving success (however success is defined for that player)
  • Encouraging the youth sports industry to support kids’ developmental and psychological needs.
  • Emphasizing that coaching is 20% about building skills and 80% about building character.
  • Bringing integrity, maturity and humanity to the parent sidelines of our youth sports games.
  • Helping coaches become better educators.

How can the adults in youth sports change Youth Sports Culture?

  • Let’s put kids at the center of team communication.
  • Let's foster healthy team communication between players, coaches and parents.
  • Let’s help coaches share feedback with kids to maximize success.
  • Let’s nurture “self-aware” and “empowered” young athletes who are in control of their own development.
  • Let’s help sports parents practice behaviors that are a positive force for their young players.
  • Let’s give coaches tools and best practices to help every kid love their sport, stay active and have fun.

If you agree that Youth Sports Culture is at the epicenter of American Culture, then we all need to work a little harder to impact positive change.  Please visit iSport360 to learn how we can help change youth sport culture for your team, your club and your community.

Ian Goldberg is an Advisory Board member for the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) and the Founder of iSport360.  His company has helped 100,000 youth sport coaches, parents and kids set goals, share player feedback, foster healthy team communication and engage parents in a positive way….all to have an impact on youth sports culture in our country. Use promo code “NAYS” to get your first month of iSport360 free here or contact iSport360 here to see how they can help your youth sports program.

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