A while back, we discussed outlining and setting up your coaches’ program. As part of that, we reviewed understanding your requirements from your governing body, setting up your screening and training programs, and configuring your registration. In this article, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at the considerations you should make.
First, I should point out that you should consult your National Governing Body (NGB,) a professional organization like the National Center for Safety Initiatives, and possibly an attorney to review your risk management plan.
Selecting Your Coaches
Going through your coaches’ registration is not much different than going through an athlete registration for your upcoming season. Assuming you had them fill out all of the information you need, you’ll see who has registered, the programs they are interested in coaching, and what certifications they have completed. The first step is to make sure you have all of the coaches you need, and if you have gaps, resume the search to engage more coaches.
For-profit clubs and non-profit organizations may have different requirements for their coaching staff. Many utilize paid staff who are hired on a part or full-time basis. Many others may use volunteer parents to coach, in which case, an email to the youth athletes’ parents may really help you bridge the gap in your coaching needs.
Ensure Coaches are Compliant
Your coaches’ registration sessions will do a great job collecting documents and information from coaches on their certification status (training, education, seminars, etc.). NGB’s may have other portals for you to visit to confirm this information. Since you’ll be the one on the hook to find someone else if your coaches aren’t compliant, be sure to communicate early and often with coaches what they need to complete to be eligible to coach.
As a general rule, try to complete your coaches roster at least 30 days before your deadlines. Why? There are going to be some who you’ll need to hound to complete their documentation. Also, if you learn anyone is disqualified, you’ll want some time to find a replacement.
Abuse Prevention Training for Everyone?
Many of you have been a part of youth sports for years or even decades. There’s no doubt that athlete safety is one of the most important conversations we all should have—however, it's not just coaches who could bring harm to athletes. In fact, abuse can surface in many ways, from other athletes, and even parents.
It’s becoming more and more common around the country for parents to also go through abuse prevention training as a condition of their kids participating in programs. This makes sense for a couple of reasons: first, most abuse prevention training helps educate us all on how to recognize signs of abuse so we can be vigilant in protecting kids. Additionally, hazing and emotional abuse are sometimes simply brushed off as “part of sports” or “encouragement.” Having parents recognize this behavior can allow them to either step in and create teachable moments with their kids or, possibly even recognize when some of their own behavior has crossed the line.
It’s all about safety
The most important thing we can do is create a safe environment for young athletes to strive. For most, athletics provide an important and fun part of growing up, being on a team, and making new friends, all while learning life lessons like empathy, compassion, and respect.
Next time, we’ll talk about what to do after your registration closes, and how to set up teams for your season.