March 15 2017

What’s Missing in Youth Sports?

What’s Missing in Youth Sports?

“Hey coach, if my kid comes to your program will they be able to start?”
“Hey coach, if my kid comes here, how much will their player ranking improve?”
“Hey coach, can you get them a scholarship?”
“If your kid comes to our program, he will start from day one.”
“If your kid plays for us, their ranking will sky-rocket. No doubt.”
“If your kid comes here, he will get a college scholarship to play ball.”

Sadly, these are the most common questions and answers between parents and coaches at the youth club sport level. Too often the emphasis is only on winning and individual success. Parents are looking for the magic ticket to the big time, and too many coaches are willing to tell them what they want to hear.

Parental behavior, expectations, and guidance are a big problem in our youth sports culture. However, they’re not the only problem. Youth sports should be a fun, positive, and enriching experience for the athletes.
Too many clubs and organizations have misplaced intentions and goals. The goal for too many is solely about winning games and improving player rankings.  What are the essential elements needed in a youth sports program? What’s missing from the majority of youth sports programs today? Let’s discuss.


Discipline is not a dirty word but it seems as if it’s only thought as negative in society today. True discipline comes from within. It’s the ability to do what is right even when it’s the most difficult. Parents are leaving it up to others to teach their kids true discipline, and too many coaches are failing to do so. Discipline requires self-control. It’s the ability to give your best effort to become the very best you can be. Coaches must provide a sound structure and teach personal accountability. It’s difficult for coaches to work with athletes when discipline is not valued at home. Coaches and their programs must place an emphasis on teaching youth athletes how to be self-disciplined. Whether it’s sports or life, a lack of discipline will never lead to success. 


Too often in youth sports parents (and especially players) are told what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. Why? Because some are in it for the wrong reasons. Players deserve a fair and honest evaluation, not one that is going to get them to continue forking over money. Athletes deserve to know where they stand, what their weaknesses are, and how they can improve them. They don’t need people telling them they can do no wrong, and they’re the “next big thing.” Honesty is crucial for any successful relationship, and the player-coach one is no exception. If a player and coach can’t handle honest constructive feedback, there are tons of other programs who tell them what they want to hear and take their money. It’s your loss. Literally.


Does your child’s youth sport program provide real guidance. Is it about all about the wins and the trophies? Is it about the coaches or the players? Too often players are used as pawns in order for coaches to advance their careers or to fatten their wallets. The real question is what is being done to help these young kids, in their formative years, become responsible men and women? Do they have adult mentors they can look up to? Are they being taught how to mentor and lead their peers? If not, it’s time to seriously consider finding a program that does.


The game should be a vehicle to impact lives and teach life lessons. My sport happens to be basketball. Whatever yours is, use it to help others become better people. Does your child’s club teach character, leadership, integrity, and life lessons? It can’t be all about the game, because sooner or later the playing days are over. What happens then? If we allow our kids to go their whole athletic careers without teaching more than the game we’ve failed them. It should always be about developing the individual. The person is far more important than the player. Is your child a better person from their involvement with the organization?

Work Ethic.

Hard work is fun. Fun is doing the hard things well! It’s our duty to teach the value of hard work through sports. Is there any better place to learn this lesson? I didn’t think so. Nothing of value comes easy or free. Through youth sports we have the awesome opportunity to teach our kids if they work hard they can accomplish their goals. Too many people in society learn to quit because things are difficult. Sport teaches us being uncomfortable leads to success. Please make sure your club or organization promotes a strong and healthy work ethic for their athletes. Just rolling the ball out and letting kids skate by on natural talent isn’t good enough.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”