Youths Need Better Coaches
Youth athletes need better coaches in my opinion. What you often see is that these are the roles filled with volunteers but I think it is backwards and money should be invested in coaches for these younger age groups. It is much easier to start out the right way then it is to correct problems and injuries later on down the track.
The problem is that many clubs aren’t willing to invest money into professionals for these levels. They tend to hope that the kids will develop naturally, physically, and hope that they get by skill wise with their natural ability until later ages when they do get some more specialised coaching.
So, what I see happen a lot is that the gym is overseen by someone who has the most basic of requirements and is looking to post a few things on social media to try and use the role to build their business. The sad thing is they have no idea about program design or even correct technique for that matter, and the kids tend to either get injured or miss out on key development years, from both a technical stand point, and a physical one.
It would not take a lot of money to fix this problem. In doing so, you could also offer much more to the athletes. Programs would be individualised, they could have nutrition plans, they could be trained in smaller groups, which would mean they are coached through each rep, everything being monitored and updated regularly. By doing this, results would improve, injuries would be reduced, there would be accountability, the club would be looked at more professionally, and they would build a much better culture.
It is an investment, not a cost.
We have young kids on contracts but I think the money spent should be re-invested into their development. For example, you have a kid on a $5,000 contract. That amount of money is a lot for a 14-year-old who hasn’t proven himself yet, but it isn’t going to change his life. Why not use that money to pay a coach to train him privately, look after his nutrition, conditioning, rehab/prehab etc.? That way you can see exactly how they are progressing, they are accountable, and they have some buy in to the relationship. At the moment, most kids get a contract, do the minimum with the club, and then are back to park footy two years later. I feel more can be done to guide them through the process.
We do this privately and it has worked very well over the years with great success. If clubs invested more into the development of the athletes, we would see a much better game. Some clubs do it pretty well and are well ahead of the ones who don’t.