How to Increase Youth Sports Participation (and why it matters)

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After a large decline during COVID, youth sports participation is back on the rise.

But overall, participation is still down compared to pre-pandemic levels. And even worse, the United States has a less-than-stellar report card when it comes to youth physical activity.

Participating in sports has been found to increase both physical and mental health among children. In fact, a recent study shows that 58.4% of parents found that their child’s mental health greatly improved as a result of involvement in sports. And, 71% cited improved social well-being.

Unfortunately, 27% of parents reported that their child lost interest in playing sports all together.

As a coach or trainer, you can play an important role as a motivator, and can help facilitate positive relationships with sports that keep young people active throughout life stages.

Here are a few ideas to help you cultivate positive experiences at your business that encourage youth sports participation.

 

The first step: determine how to motivate your athletes

Success requires motivation. Sports are no exception. Improving youth sports participation starts with motivating your athletes. First, it is important that you find out how they are motivated. Are they intrinsically motivated, fueled by a love for the game and to see what they can do? Or, are they more extrinsically motivated, driven by trophies or recognition. There is no right or wrong form of motivation. But, it’s important to distinguish, as this should influence the way you work with your athletes.

 

 

3 ways to increase youth sports participation

1. Keep training fun

For many athletes, especially young ones, they want to play. They want to compete. They want to be the best. But, as you know better than anyone, there is a lot of consistent hard work and preparation that leads up to these moments. While training won’t always live up to the “hype” of competitions, there are ways you can make it more exciting, where athletes look forward to showing up to your facility.

So, how can you keep training fun? Explain the importance of drills. Show athletes how these movements or skills can really benefit them in competition, and improve their gameplay. In addition, you could consider adding a little healthy competition in practice. For example, if you operate a baseball hitting academy, host a “home run derby,” posting a leaderboard in the facility. Not only will their athletes get reps in, but it will help them find fun in practice.

Bonus tip: you can share some of these fun challenges on your social media platforms. Check out this article for more social media content ideas for your sports training business.

 

2. Give feedback (and celebrate small wins)

In addition to making the training fun, it’s also important that you provide athletes with empowering, motivating feedback. Feedback, both positive and negative, is essential to athlete development. But, it also has a great effect on a child’s experience with their sport.

Celebrating little victories and giving praise is essential to keeping athletes motivated. For young athletes who may just be getting introduced to a specific sport, it’s important to find positive ways to give feedback. As an athlete continues to develop, you can continue to offer constructive comments to help them fine tune a specific skill or refine their technique. There are times to dig into your athletes, and there are times to uplift them. A great strength is recognizing when and where each are appropriate.

For more tips on giving effective athlete feedback and evaluations, check out the Ultimate Guide to Effective Feedback & Evaluations here!

 

3. Make it easy to get involved

Another way to help increase youth sports participation is to make it easy for parents to register their athletes for various programs. Using a youth sports software will help you reduce barriers to entry and make it easy for athletes to find the program, lesson, or camp that is the right fit for their age, skill level, or position. The best scheduling app for coaches will make it easy for potential athletes to get information on your offerings so they are able to make the most informed decisions.

A poor user experience, or complicated scheduling process will ultimately lead to athletes taking their business elsewhere. Or, even worse, giving up on sports all together. Investing in a sports facility booking app will help you streamline your business operations. As a result, you’ll be able to invest your time and energy into creating inspiring and motivating programs that improve not only a child’s athletic skill, but their physical and mental well-being.

Bonus tip: With features such as auto-renewing memberships or repeat booking, sports software such as Upper Hand can make it even easier for your clients to make sports training a consistent part of their lives. Here’s what to look for in a sports management software..

 

What’s next?

As more and more life is found online, sports remain a great way to keep children active and connected. And, as a sports business owner and coach, you have an incredible opportunity to influence a child’s experience with sports.

Athletes exist on a spectrum. Some are in search of friends or an energy outlet. Others are looking to make it to the big leagues. No matter where your athletes fall, you can keep sports training fun and exciting. By keeping your programming fun, feedback positive, and business accessible, you can continue to encourage young athletes to stay involved in sports.

 

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