Monday, March 5, 2007

Sam's Blog - Who’s Coaching Our Kids? - March 5

Sam’s Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.

In the U.S.A. one needs a license to cut hair, but not to teach a child how to play a sport.

It’s curious that parents will let their child be coached by someone who may not be qualified to do so. The reasonable expectations of parents that a youth soccer coach have some minimum coaching certification should be higher. Whether a coach is a volunteer or paid he or she should have a coaching certificate or license from a state soccer association. By a coach holding a certification the soccer environment has a chance to improve through better coaching. Mind you that a coaching course will not change someone’s personality, but it will have a positive impact on coaching knowledge and talent.

Additionally by having a requirement for coaching certification clubs will find that the retention of coaches will improve. Someone who has been through a coaching course will stick with coaching a year or two longer than the coach who still feels in the dark. When a coach feels better equipped to coach, that he or she has better understanding of soccer and the players then that coach is more confident and positive. As the cadre of knowledgeable and positive coaches grows then fewer players drop-out. When the retention of players improves soccer clubs then have more wherewithals to grow their facilities, personnel and services to the community. There’s a positive and lasting ripple effect from required coaching licensure.

In closing I leave you with these thoughts from a US Youth Soccer coach.

“… it seems that US coaching education needs to be revamped in terms of early coaching education so that there is more emphasis on educating the novice coach on age-appropriate soccer learning (which is a cornerstone of the NY license). The reason WHY small-sided games and fun activities are good for youth soccer and HOW they contribute to overall learning seems often to be lost on many volunteer coaches (most of whom are parents with kids in the program).

"The problem we seem to be facing is a shortage of skilled youth soccer coaches who care about teaching. How many late teens compared to 30- to 50-year olds are there who are out on the pitch working with children? I bet very few. It seems that U.S. coaching education at this point is geared towards volume rather than excellence with a long-term plan to move towards excellence once a critical mass of soccer coaches has been established. In terms of parents, they can be your best allies if they are educated properly or your worst enemies if they remain in the dark.”

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