Recently, the Aspen Institute introduced their Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports. I’ve been following the Aspen Institute’s Project Play Initiative for a while now. The Bill of Rights for Youth Sports is a fantastic initiative that is endorsed by dozens of sports luminaries and organizations. While #4 resonates with me because I believe there is plenty of time for our children to grow up; as you might imagine, right #3 is the one that speaks the most to Hustle & Attitude.
Children have the right to play under the care of coaches and other adults who pass background checks and are trained in key competencies.– Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports, Aspen Institute Project Play Initiative
It would be great if every youth sports organization provided training opportunities to their volunteer coaches. Project Play has been advocating as much for a while now – ‘Train All Coaches‘ is one of their 8 “plays” – strategies that stakeholders can use to get and keep more children playing sports. As their Sport for All, Play for Life report suggests, the minimum they suggest for coaches includes training on:
- Coaching philosophy on how to work with kids
- Best practices in the areas of physical literacy and sport skills
- Basic safety
Notice there isn’t anything in the list that is sports-specific. It is my experience that leagues often provide that kind of training – whether internally or via an organization like Major League University. It is also my experience that – because of league, city, or state rules – basic safety is a training requirement. That leaves number 1 and 2 as requirements for leagues/organizations. Hustle & Attitude coaching clinics spend a great deal of time on #1. We devote a quarter of each clinic to things like getting on the player’s level (both physically and emotionally), understanding 4-year olds in youth sports, and coaching your own child.
It’s interesting to look at #2 – training coaches in best practices in the areas of physical literacy and sport skills. Recall, that Dr. Etnier’s book Coaching for the Love of the Game included a developmentally appropriate activities table that speaks to this area. We don’t currently cover this type of information in our clinics. In some cases, the league’s/organization’s rules are shaped by these considerations, though.
I’m constantly updating the content in the Hustle & Attitude coaching clinics. I am an avid reader of books and articles on the subject of youth sports and particularly coaching. I incorporate the best of what I’ve learned into the clinics. Perhaps it’s time to include some physical literacy content. In any event, I applaud the Aspen Institute’s Children’s Bill or Rights in Sports initiative and believe that Hustle & Attitude clinics go a long way towards providing the trained youth sports coaches under which each child has the right to play.