Coaching Children and Teenagers

It is estimated that around 80 % of coaches work with children and young people but less than half of these coaches are qualified, and very few of them hold a qualification specific to this population (North, 2009; Sport Ireland, 2013). An ICOACHKIDS study into the coaching workforce concluded that coaches of children are the least qualified, least valued least supported. To address this Sport Ireland Coaching has been developing a series of development opportunities for coaches of children and teens.

Sport for Children and Teenagers

Many nations are currently re-examining their approach to children and teenagers in sport, on the basis that their needs are different to the needs of other populations. All too often programmes offered to children and young people in sport are scaled down versions of adult activity.

A paradigm shift in sport for children and teenagers is needed. We need PA and Sport to provide positive meaningful experiences for each and every child, if we are going to attract them and keep them engaged. We need to consider how sport is perceived, delivered and what we value in it.

Sport for children and teenagers should be conducted with sufficient regard to the principles of child and youth development. Children and young people needs’ in sport are different to adults also the reasons they take part a different to those of adults. Therefore, the sporting opportunities for children and teenagers need to take account of this and establish an environment that is child/teen-friendly, to fulfil these needs, to support the child/teen and to contribute to sustaining their future involvement.

 

Children and teenagers require different approaches given their stage of development – physically, psychologically, emotionally, and socially. Research suggests that if we get it ‘right’ at these early stages, a higher proportion will be physically literate, equipped with movement skills, understanding why, and develop a love for sport and activity, which has the potential to ensure that they remain active into their adult years and lead a healthy lifestyle. The stakes are high!