Should youth sport coaches be required to get/maintain certifications through continued education?
In America, it is a widely accepted practice for the majority of skilled trades and professions to require a certification and some sort of continuing education to ensure the professionals are knowledgeable, and stay sharp on industry standards. For obvious reasons, failure to comply usually results in suspension of licensure and/or termination of employment. Most of us would not trust or hire a doctor who hadn't been to medical school, or a lawyer who hasn't passed the boards, yet we put the trust of our kids' athletic future in the hands of smooth talking coaches who's ability to sell dreams far outweighs their ability to actually coach their sport.
There is only one requirement to becoming a youth sports coach, and that is passing a background check, having some sport experience is not even required at the younger ages. A lot of times, good hearted parents are volunteering their time to coach kids and I applaud them for their efforts.
What I have a problem with is the lack of curriculum, required professional development, and entry requirements to become a coach. Rarely, if ever are coaches tested on the metabolic/physical demands of their sport (asking them would be akin to asking a first grader to solve a calculus problem), or are they required to display knowledge of skill and/or the ability to demonstrate and teach the skills involved. Youth sport coaches hardly ever receive a post season assessment and if they do, it's by someone who has the same or less knowledge about the sport, so how can parents or any sports governing body determine a coach's effectiveness?
Some parents may wonder why all of this is necessary for youth sports since after all, the kids are so young. These same kids go to school to learn from a teacher who had to go get certified to get the job, so why can't the same be demanded from coaches?
The motor skills, as well as sport skills that prepubescent children learn, will largely determine their success (or lack of) in high school and/or college athletics. For this very reason, the best coaches in other countries are coaching youth sports, quite the opposite in American sports where ignorance is seen on every level.
I know this is a long rant, but in order to improve the youth sporting experience, decrease injuries and burnout, and develop better athletes, we need a better checks and balance system for coaches.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment and/or share, your support is appreciated!!
B.S. Exercise Science
CSCS, NASM CES, USATF 1