Sports Education and Coaching for Kids
In the throes of searching for the perfect sports tutor for your kids?
April 3, 2023
Sports Education for Kids
In the throes of searching for the perfect sports coach for your kids? We parents need to know what a trainer’s resume in sports education should look like and what certifications they should possess.
What our Children Need to Learn in their Sport
Physical education has so many benefits it’s crazy that the school system keeps putting less emphasis on it because of cuts. Aside from keeping our kids fit, it is proven to impart social skills, responsibility, respect, leadership, teamwork … the list goes on and on. Just like these benefits, sports themselves are multi-dimensional. There are the physical aspects, which depend on the sport itself. There are also the mental aspects. Understanding the rules and why they exist, knowing what each person’s job is on the team and around it (ie. The umpire, referee, scorekeeper, coach, etc.).
In most cases we focus on improving our kids physical abilities in the game, which makes sense. But, keep in mind that they need to also understand the competition to best be able to play the sport. This is why I look for a coach or trainer that has a background in Sports Education as well as experience and certification.
What to Look for in a Sports coach
Sports coaching is hiring someone with great skill to help our kids improve at their sport as a whole or a specific skill. Finding the right person can be tricky so here is what I look for, and I think you will too.
A Background in Sports Education
A trainer or coach must have a deep connection and understanding of sports and how these organizations work. Typically you want their experience to center on the same sport as your child’s, but there are exceptions as you will find out below.
To be clear, Sports Education isn’t an abstract definition pulled out of the dictionary. The Sports Education Model (SEM) was created over thirty years ago and it requires many facets to meet the standard.
A true sports education for our youth means they are enrolled in a sports program that is overseen by an organization. It that has everything from seasons and competitions, to rules and refereeing, to assigned positions and responsibilities. These attributes are all very important. Having scheduled seasons means the educators have enough time to properly organize the competitions and keep up-to-date on things such as national trends and rule change requests. Organized competitions ensure proper point systems and that the coaches get to put their talent to the test too. Rules and referees promise a level playing field and offer the side benefit of teaching our children respect for the game, the team, the coach, and the refs. Essentially, all of this leads to a high-quality sports experience that motivates our youth.
The goal of SEM is to create competent, literate, and enthusiastic players. Competent; they are good at their sport. Literate; they understand how the sport is played, its history, and its rules. Enthusiastic; it encourages and excites our children and they continue to advance in the sport.
So, that is Sports Education in a nutshell. It is important that the trainers and coaches our youth work with have participated in organized sports so they understand the small details and big picture.
Certifications and Experience
When it comes to training certifications and training there are a lot of variances because there are so many sports. For example, if an MMA fighter opens a dojo, they may not have a university degree in PhysEd but their real-world experience is vital. However, if they have never worked with children do they understand the physical limits and what courses did they take to do so? We as parents need to take the sport, the child, the coach, and the goal of hiring this pro into account to ascertain what we are looking for in a sports coach.
If you are looking for coach to help your child on the balance beam in gymnastics you are going to want someone with a gymnast background who excelled on that event. If you are looking for a trainer to help increase muscle mass for a stronger stroke in swimming competitions, you may want to focus on a personal trainer who has a degree in physical education. Sometimes you might want a coach from a completely different sport to teach a skill that would be beneficial to the one your child is focused on. Here is a great example … hockey players turning to figure skating. Drew Doughty is arguably one of the best skaters in the NHL and he worked with figure skating coaches for this exact reason. Going back to my MMA fighter above, a lesser known example is that many MMA fighters have turned to Latin dancing to help them loosen their hips.
If you deem a degree necessary, look for someone who has a bachelor's degree in physical education, health education, or kinesiology. A Personal Trainer Certificate is a good idea for adolescents looking to strengthen their muscles or improve their cardio. A professional, semi-professional athlete, and even amateur athlete (many Olympians are technically amateurs) could be the perfect sports teacher if they have a proven track record.
The best way to know if a trainer or coach is properly experienced and educated is to ask them. Try not to put them on the spot, but rather strike up a conversation. Find out about their successes in sport, when they started, why they like to coach. Also explain what you are looking for and if they think they can help your child with their sports goal. If the answer is yes, ask them how they will help.
Online coaching for Youth in Sports?
I must sidetrack a little to mention this … Online coaching is a growing industry and is even extending into sports. We can hire a coach from anywhere in the world and our kids can connect with them through their computer, tablet, or smartphone via web chat. Sounds amazing right? I mean, we can pair them with the best of the best! … Except …
I think it depends on why you are hiring a trainer. If you need someone to teach your child the rules and regulations of the game, this might be a great way to do so. But many of the coaches I came across want to teach technique, and I can’t help but question if hiring a sports educator over the internet is a good idea for our kids. How can this person properly assess our child’s skill level? How can they see if the exercise is being done correct? What happens if my child gets hurt trying their method; is this person liable? When I came across sports coaches online, I reviewed a lot of their profiles. Some coaches were admittedly high school students, while others claimed to be Olympic athletes. How do you know they are who they say they are? (I have about twenty more questions, so I won’t list them all, but I think you can see where I am going with this.) I wouldn’t hesitate to sign my kids up for an info session or online conference about their beloved sport. But, to have my child doing physical education with someone over the internet? … I’m not so sure.
That said, I can see the PhysEd instructors being a benefit for an adult. Say, someone who works out at home, as you can find a sports coach to suit your schedule and it gives extra incentive to stick with a session when you don’t feel like because someone is expecting you.
If you have hired an online trainer for your kids, I’d love to hear your story about the experience. Just send us a note through our contact page or post your comment below.
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