There are numerous articles posted across the internet discussing the unfortunate reality of kids quitting youth sports. Many of these articles share the reasons driving those “retirements” – the primary culprit is that it’s not fun anymore. Youth athletes receive pressure-filled communications from self, teammates, parents, family, and coaches. Early retirement decisions are also linked to cyber-bullying, recurring injuries, or specialization in one sport. Youth athletes also experience changing focus around high school from social life, and for some, intense academic preparation for college.
The purpose of this article is not to debate which valid culprit is more prevalent or does more harm. The purpose of this post is to discuss solutions – culture and communications. How to create positive behavior environments where kids have such an enjoyable experience, they're excited to play again the next season.
The secrets to a positive behavior culture
I enjoyed 15 years coaching my two daughters on competitive travel teams at Mustang Soccer. As a coach, one of the most educational experiences was participating in the Positive Coaching Alliance's "Double-Goal Coach" seminar. Each year, Mustang would invite PCA in to teach a Coaches seminar explaining poor behavior challenges and their root causes. The entire Coaching staff was provided with new communications techniques to help us be better coaches. A separate seminar series was organized for parents addressing communications with their child athlete. Looking at the bigger picture and reframing some of the challenges in youth sports was an eye-opener. PCA offers excellent programs, more information is available on their website: https://www.positivecoach.org/.
While I would imagine all Boards of Directors are committed to creating a positive behavior culture, do they appoint a leader dedicated to that particular outcome? Are they partnering with industry leaders to educate the various constituent groups on positive behavior standards? Does leadership offer communications about positive behavior on a consistent basis? Is the club's community regularly challenged to live up to those standards? Has the Board developed a more formalized Code of Conduct? Is that policy, and consequences for violations, clearly communicated during registration, team kick-off meetings, and throughout the season?
Lessons learned improving club communications
One of the key challenges that Club Presidents, General Managers, or Executive Directors share with us is regarding communications. We understand the difficult challenge of broadcasting the right message out to the right group in a timely fashion. Not just once, but consistently over the course of a season without overwhelming the audience. How do you best juggle training and game communications with positive behavior standards, codes of conduct agreements, and education sessions? Are you missing opportunities to shape culture when someone goes above and beyond the positive behavior call of duty?
At SquadFusion, communications is a keystone of our League/Club Management solution. Clearly and consistently communicating behavior goals is critical to creating a positive club culture, customer experiences, and returning athletes. We strive for seasons when youth athletes had so much fun, 100% are excited about playing again next season. If your club has challenges re-registering youth athletes, we invite you to explore new tools that will improve communications with your members. More information about our communications platform is available at https://www.squadfusion.com/communication-detail/