The Web site began as a place where coaches could learn about baseball skills and how to teach them along with some practice drills that they could use. As I continued to coach at the Little League level, I realized that there is a need for more than just skill and practice development for coaches. I'm sure you're all aware of the news stories of parents and coaches losing control at youth sporting events. While I haven't witnessed anything that would be considered newsworthy, I have witnessed countless coaches and parents that simply don't understand what youth sports should be. In most cases it's simply a case of a coach not being trained on how to coach and not knowing what is best for the kids. Or a parent that really doesn't understand what the kids are looking for when they participate in youth athletics. Either way, it's the kids that suffer.
The initial concept didn't address the need for educating parents and training coaches beyond skill development. I think it's invaluable for every volunteer coach to go through some type of training. I also believe all youth leagues should require that coaches be certified. Although some organizations are making great strides to accomplish these goals ( National Alliance for Youth Sports for example ); we're not there yet. Many leagues don't have any type of training for coaches. Many leagues do have training, but it's usually held prior to the season and doesn't help the last minute volunteer coach, who may need the training more than anyone.
The other issue: often the training is similar to the fundamentals and drills type of information that was the focus of the initial concept of this site. What about the emotional development of young athlete? A recent study found that more than 70% of children drop out of organized sports by the time they reach age 13. The primary reasons given by kids for why they drop out: not fun, too much pressure. The majority of kids aren't dropping out because the coach isn't teaching them enough fundamentals. That doesn't mean that fundamentals and building skill aren't important. These are critical to a good sports program, but too often fundamentals and winning are the only focus. It does reflect that from a kids perspective it isn't as important as we adults believe it is.
In addition to what I have witnessed and read about youth athletics, I also have talked with other coaches and have had to deal myself with the issue of coaching my own child and how difficult that role can be. So how can I help? That's the question I asked myself last summer. My answer was to develop a portion of the Quality Coaching Baseball web site into a resource for educating and informing adults about the need for positive youth athletics. Do I have all the answers? No way. I'm I an expert in child psychology? Nope. I'm simply a coach that tries to improve myself and my coaching skills each year. I want to be the best role model I can be for my kids and for the kids on my team. In addition, I want to try and extend any knowledge and experience I gain to any person who is interested in the same goals I am. I have already received great feedback and information from many coaches. I'm benefitting from the experience of the people that visit this site and I hope we can build a community where visitors can learn from each other.
Many experts believe that change must come from league administrators. While I believe that's important, I believe the education of coaches and parents is a critical first step since they will become the administrators of tomorrow. They're also the direct link with the children.
To develop a service oriented baseball web site that is devoted to providing thought provoking and valuable information for parents, coaches and players.
The vision statement is open ended enough to allow the web site to go in many different directions, but has enough detail to provide guidance as I develop new content. I believe "service oriented" is a key guiding principle. I don't want the focus of the site to become one where the content is simply an added layer to lure people into my sports store. Building revenue is essential for the growth of the site, but I want people to first receive value from the service we offer and then hopefully decide that what is being built is worthy of their support.
"Thought provoking" is another key statement to the vision statement. While it's critical to have great baseball fundamental information, it's only a portion of what it takes to become a quality coach. I want this site to continually look at some of the difficult situations we must face as coaches and parents. I want coaches and parents to analyze the philosophy they have about youth athletics and how that fits with the development and relationship they have with their own children and the other players on the team.