It has been said that the only thing in life that is constant is change.
Changes are happening at every level of youth sport as there is a push to focus on developing athletes rather than winning.
These changes are due to the fact that more and more children are choosing to drop out of organized sport because they are experiencing what sports psychologists have deemed “athlete burnout.”
Many organizations are making the conscious effort to address this problem. The Ontario Soccer Association, for example has phased in Long Term Player Development so that their young players focus on building the necessary skills for lifelong love of the sport rather than the instant gratification of winning. I have been working with a local soccer club during this process, and I can tell you first hand it hasn’t always been the easiest to get parents on board with the changes.
In the beginning, many clubs presented changes to their membership as necessary and required by the OSA and CSA. We found that it was received much better when a full explanation for the changes accompanied the messages. Parents simply wanted to know why things were happening, not just what was happening.
Some communication methods the OSA has used to ensure this success are:
- coaching clinics
- grassroots workshops
- print collateral
- online resources
- links well researched blogs
The integration of the message across multiple channels and from multiple sources has led to not only the acceptance but more importantly the understanding of why these changes were necessary. I encourage you and your organization to adopt some of these methods if you are undergoing similar changes – they’ve proved to be winning approaches!