If you have never had to send out an email such as this, a week before the season began, consider yourself fortunate:
Hello parents! We have a record number of players for your child’s age division this year! However, we still need a few coaches to fill every team. Email back if you are interested.
If you are lucky, you get volunteers right away and are set for opening day. If not, you might start begging, perhaps enlisting parents who are unsure about coaching or are not able to put in the time and effort necessary to effectively run their teams. Or, you get volunteers at the last minute, subsequently resulting in teams that are not ready to play that first game. Or, you reduce the number of teams, increase roster sizes, and decrease the amount of playing time the kids get.
Finding good coaches can be a challenge, but one you must undertake in order for your youth league to be successful. The things you manage as an administrator, such as good communication, well-maintained fields and equipment, and a dynamic league website, can help you retain coaches, but to retain them, you must first recruit them. Here are five ways to find good coaches for your youth league:
1. Appeal to your league’s parents
Most volunteer coaches in youth rec sports leagues are parents. Yet, parents also comprise the greatest untapped pool of potential coaches in your organization. Too many leagues do not actively seek out parents to volunteer, instead relying upon a check box on registration forms and a hope that some moms and dads will step up. Turn this process upside down by promoting the opportunity on registration info, on your league’s website, with posters and flyers at your concession stands, in emails, and so on. Emphasize the resources your league will offer to these volunteers (especially ones who have never coached before) such as coaching clinics, online videos, and workout guides to make their job easier.
2. Former coaches
Many parents coach only while their children are involved in the organization. These kids eventually outgrow the youth league, and the knowledge and dedication their moms and dads brought to coaching leave the league also. If you have kept contact info over the years, you should still have email addresses and phone numbers of these parents; don’t hesitate to get in touch with them and see if they are interested in returning. You may find some empty nesters who loved their time coaching and will jump at the chance to make an impact again.
Similarly, if your league has been established for many years, it will have many former players who fondly remember their time on the field, court, or ice. These alum may not have kids of their own yet but might be willing to coach, whether to prepare for when their own children are in the league or just because they still love the sport.
Parents might not have the time to coach, but their parents might—particularly if the elders once coached long ago. This offers active grandparents a wonderful opportunity to spend time with their grandkids while allowing them to apply their experience and knowledge to a new generation of kids.
5. The student route
College students can be a good source of coaches—enthusiastic volunteers that kids can relate to on a different level than they would with parent coaches. Your league may even allow older high school students to coach, but use this strategy cautiously: Some teens are entirely devoted to kids and responsibly run the team, but others approach coaching either too seriously, treating the team as it was a comp squad, or not seriously enough, failing to show for practices and games when something comes up (and believe it or not, you might get teens who meet both extremes). Check with local high school coaches and club teams to ask about possible candidates, and consider designating them as assistant coaches if you don’t think they are ready for the entire responsibility.
Does your youth league have difficulty finding—and keeping—good youth league coaches?