Coaching: Improve Youth Athlete Retention by Focusing on Skills Not Tactics

Coaching: Improve Youth Athlete Retention by Focusing on Skills Not Tactics

Dixie Iverson for PE

A study performed by researchers at Brock University indicates that coaches can improve the retention rate of youth-aged athletes by focusing on technique rather than strategy during practices.

The Study
Because the attrition rate of young athletes is a concern in many sports, this study examined the relationship between the confidence of the coach, the coach's primary focus, and the rate at which athletes returned for another year of the participation. Seventeen coaches and their teams in an Atom Hockey League (159 players) were chosen as study participants. All coaches were certified by the National Coaching Certification Program.

Results of the study indicated that the more confident the coaches, the more likely the players were to return - but only if the coaches were confident in their ability to teach skills. Conversely, coaches who felt most competent in teaching strategy had a negative impact on the rate of attrition.

Simply put, the study shows that coaches who emphasize fundamental skills during practices and games are more likely to see their athletes return. Those who concentrate on tactics have a poorer retention rate.

So, if you want to keep your youth athletes involved in sport, focus on skills and technique rather than strategy.

Reference: Coaching Association of Canada Coaching Research Symposium 11/2/06.

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