Success on Chalkboard

Measuring Success of Youth Coaches

As a coach, how do you know if you’ve been successful? Traditionally, people measure the success of a coach by championships or win-loss record. The list of the winningest college football coaches is full of names considered to be the most successful coaches of all time. So is that it? Should people measure your success based on how many games you win?

Success Based on Wins

Measuring success based on wins is only valid at the highest levels of sport. That is because sports at the professional and college levels are business ventures. If the team doesn’t win, the owner or school doesn’t make money. Without money flowing in, there can be no team and no coach. So, to a large extent, we have to consider winning the measure of success at this level.

Since you’re a reader of this site, I’ll assume you’re not a professional or college level coach. We are here because of our involvement in youth sports; primarily up through eighth grade. For those age ranges, coaching success has to be measured differently.

In many articles, I stress the need to take a balanced approach in your coaching philosophy. Focusing on only one coaching component causes a coach to be one-dimensional. These types of coaches will also measure their success in that single focus area.

For example, a coach focused only on winning they will judge their success by their win record. When a coach focuses on development, they will judge their success by how their players improve. Finally, if a coach focuses on fun they will measure their success by the smiling faces they see at practices and games.

But we’ve learned that focusing too much in a single dimension has several downsides. Ignoring the other coaching components means the kids will miss crucial parts of their athletic experience. Coaches that balance these components well will have the most satisfied players.

Success Based on Player Satisfaction

Player satisfaction is the best measure of a youth coach’s success. For a player to be satisfied, they need to be improving in their abilities, winning some games, and having fun. And all three components need to be balanced in harmony.

Players satisfied with their athletic experience are more likely to continue with the sport. In recent years, youth sports participation in the US has been steadily decreasing. In fact, 80 percent of youth athletes quit their sports by age 15. I’ve seen this firsthand in my local schools as numbers decrease in the older grades.

With participation making a downward trend, one of our coaching goals needs to be keeping the kids in sports. We do this by giving them the type of athletic experience that keeps them coming back for more.

So, your success as a youth coach should be measured in player satisfaction.

Measuring Player Satisfaction

It’s unlikely that a you’ll send a satisfaction survey to your players at the end of the season. The easiest way to measure their satisfaction levels is to survey yourself. Try asking yourself the following questions.

  • Do your players return to the sport year-over-year?
  • Do your players get excited when the season is about to begin?
  • Do new players turn into to repeat players?
  • Do your players plan to play in high school?
  • Do your players play the sport at home with family and friends?
  • Do your players ask to have you as a coach again?
  • Do you receive positive feedback from the players and their parents?
  • Do your teams improve skills, win some games, and have fun?

If you answer “Yes” to several of the questions above, then you can assume player satisfaction levels on your teams are high. You’ve created an excellent environment for young athletes. They’ve been able to grow, experience competitive success, and had fun doing it. They will remember you as a coach for years to come.

At that point, you can certainly say you’ve been successful in your role as a youth coach! Way to go!

Have you ever considered player satisfaction as an indicator of success for youth coaches? Leave a comment to weigh in.

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