Coach Brad · Coaching · Development · Education · Leadership · Positive Sports Environment · Success · Youth Sports

Youth Team Development – Keep Families In the Game

02 Boys at various stages
Storm SA ’02 Boys maintain a core of eight players off of the U8 team pictured in upper left hand corner. They are now U12 with current picture in lower right hand corner.


Why do certain families and players participate with the same youth sport organization for their entire youth sports career while others move to other sports, other activities, or other youth sport organizations. Three reasons I believe organizations are able to retain participants are:

  • Organizational values and beliefs that match the families values and beliefs in regards to expectations for a youth sports experience.
    • Organizations that have intentionally designed plans geared towards parent education, communication, and strategic planning have an increased opportunity to communicate their beliefs and values in order to attract families with similar perspectives.
    • Families will know very soon within their experience if the program and their expectations match. Number of training sessions during a week, curriculum composition, quality of coaching, travel for games, and organization development philosophy all play a part within athlete and family retainment.
  • The development of positive relationships between athletes, families, coaches, and organizational leaders to form a positive culture.
    • When young athletes are perceived to be learning and happy by their parents, the participant will stay within the same organization.
    • Athletes that create meaningful friendships with their teammates are more likely to stay within the organization in order to participate with their “best” friends.
    • Families also create meaningful relationships that create opportunities for car pools, sleep overs, watching youth sport hang out time for parents, family interaction events (cook out), and bonding at out of town hotels at youth sport tournaments. Organizations that foster meaningful family relationships have an increased opportunity to keep athletes from year to year.
    • Developing trust between coach, organizational leadership, athlete, and family through responsible and meaningful interactions increases the likelihood of organizational retainment. Coaches and organizational leaders that continually live up to high expectations establish a positive reputation for themselves and the group that leads to increased recruitment through word of mouth.
  • Organization convenience in terms of price and location.
    • Parent perception of value weighs price versus participant experience and parental time dedicated to transportation, observation, etc. For the status quo family, the organization that charges the lowest price for participation and offers a “good enough” experience will win out over increased fees for a possibly better experience within another organizations.

Shared values and beliefs, the development of a positive culture, and price and location play significant roles within choices that families make as far as organizational choice within youth sports.

Parents – Why do you choose to keep your children within a certain organization? Coaches – Why do the athletes keep returning to play within your organization and on your team? I would love to read comments about this topic and how we can continue to develop an environment where athletes are passionate about returning to play year after year.

Empowering Athletes, Families, Coaches, and Organizations to Create Opportunities for Lifetime Success,

Coach Brad

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