A Simple Philosophy

During my 20 years in the parks and recreation industry, I’ve seen the benefits of sound recreational sports programs within a community.

Be nice--and young athletes will follow your lead.

I’ve also seen the opposite, in which programs become harmful to the development of their participants and compel children–at a young age–to drop out of team sports altogether. Why are some programs detrimental while others promote sound fundamentals, teamwork, and fair play?

There are many variables that contribute to the development of a well-rounded and confident athlete, all of which are important. However, as someone who has spent his career in developing and implementing sports programming, there is one variable that stands out, one that is the core of my “philosophy” on youth sports: Be nice.

Superior customer service is predicated on treating people with respect in a congenial or favorable manner.

A comprehensive sports program should include programming for participants from age 3 to adulthood. Although there are different “levels” and challenges for each, the key to success is making sure customer service is the first priority.

Since children learn best by encouragement and positive reinforcement, they need to feel as if they can achieve anything; the administrator of this program has to boost their self-confidence at every possible opportunity.

This behavior, however, doesn’t stop with the children. Parents, grandparents, siblings, and even friends of the family should all be treated … nicely!

I know most people think that being nice should be a given and explaining the importance of it is a waste of time. Unfortunately, behavior such as screaming at officials and coaches, booing at children, and sometimes even partaking in verbal and physical abuse occurs at sporting events for children as young as 3 years old.

This is why it’s so important to have trained administrators leading during these influential years, so the children as well as the adults learn acceptable behavior.

The Introduction Enrichment Program (Ages 3-5)

Every sports program should have an introduction that allows children to learn in a relaxed, non-competitive setting. Usually, most municipalities host these programs for children ages 3 through 5.

This is the most important level because it establishes the framework of a program, teaching the fundamentals of sports to children as well as to their parents. In this age bracket, it’s also important to let children enjoy the sport so they continue to participate in programs as they get older. Therefore, games with strict rule interpretations are discouraged.

This is where “being nice” starts. The person leading and/or supervising these introductory activities must be someone who displays exemplary customer service. He or she should have a background, preferably a degree in physical education or a related field, in dealing with children and parents.

A little respect goes a long way.

Ideally, the director of this level is able to commit to teaching/coaching directly. This way, he or she will be able to personally model the behavior of a positive youth coach to all participants.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Rise Above
  2. Stepping Up With Safer Programs
  3. Code of Conduct
  4. Cashing In On Kids
  5. Stand Up
  • Columns
  • Departments