Got Challenges in Your Youth Sports Program? Ask These Questions

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” —Voltaire

Are you asking the RIGHT questions when it comes to the challenges in your youth sports program?

Clarifying queries can be the difference between struggling through obstacles or landing on the perfect solution.

There are 3 areas that many sports organizations have to nail down to keep things rolling smoothly:
  • Quality of coaching
  • Working within budgets
  • Guiding parents well

Let’s take a closer look at each of these, and ask the questions that will lead to desirable solutions.

Challenge #1—Develop and Maintain Quality Coaching Staff.

Coaches can make or break a sports program. And it’s unfortunate that we’ve seen examples in the news, of coaches negatively impacting the experience of young athletes.

There’s no doubt that as a key component to a successful program, coaches need to have a depth of character and a firm grasp of skills.

So what’s the best way to not only develop a safe and thriving coaching environment but maintain it over time?

Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What is the lens you look through when making all hiring decisions?
  • Are you proud of the quality of coaching in your program?
  • How do you respond when values are disregarded?

Every program needs to have a clear set of core values that act as a filter for every decision-making process.

Hire slowly—making sure that a candidate’s principles align with your organization's core values. But fire quickly when codes of conduct are broken.

Challenge #2—Keep the Budget In Line With Expectations.

It’s important to realize that you can’t be all things to all people. Families come to a program with varying levels of commitment and discretionary income.

Just as a business runs best when it stays within a predetermined budget, a sports program also needs to manage the costs so families can afford the experience they signed up for.

Consider these questions:

  • Who is my audience or who do I want to serve?
  • Are the fees involved, proportionate to the level of competition or expectations?
  • Am I running the organization like a business and staying within the budget?

Running a program for highly motivated and financially equipped parents will look very different than providing a sports experience to an area where families don’t have expendable income.

Knowing WHO you serve will help you to develop a budget that matches the expectations of your families.

Challenge #3—Empower Parents to Support Their Athletes Well 

Most parents want to support their athletes, but not all parents do it well. This becomes very evident at any weekend sporting event.

As annoying as a loud or forceful parent might be, you can’t assume that they KNOW how to fulfill their role or that they don’t want to learn a better way.

Use these questions to direct your steps:

  • Are you providing learning opportunities?
  • Do you model a positive learning environment for everyone?
  • Do you keep your own ego in check when trying to shape attitudes?

It’s the responsibility of an organization to provide the learning opportunities and access to resources—so all parents have the chance to learn how to support their athletes well.

This could involve bringing in guest speakers to share positive strategies or simply sending out helpful articles about the effects of pressure on young athletes.

Moving Your Organization Forward 

There are a lot of moving parts to run a successful sports program. 

Growing Champions For Life strives to provide up-to-date and informative resources that help to shape a positive youth sports experience—for everyone involved.

Always feel free to reach out to me for the tools that can take your organization to the next level.

Sport Family Coach at

Founder of Growing Champions for Life, David helps sports parents and coaches incorporate positivity and persistence into their communication with the young athletes who count on their encouragement and guidance. An eight-time national water skiing champion, five-time national record holder in water ski jumping, former World Championship U.S. Water Ski Team coach, and proud professional sports parent, he understands first-hand the challenges and rewards of competition. His extensive experience as a corporate leadership coach for Nextel, Sprint, Allstate, Balfour Beatty, The Villages and other companies provides David with unique insight into the skills needed to excel in sports, business and life. He brings an athlete's discipline, a coach's inspiration, and a parent's practical experience to his mission to grow not just champion young athletes, but holistically well-rounded individuals equipped for lifelong excellence.

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