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Leadership and Young Athletes

Dr. Krissy Turner is Head Coach for Monmouth University’s Division 1 women’s soccer program. She is in her 23rd year and has led the Hawks to seven straight MAAC Regular Season Championships and four consecutive MAAC Tournament titles. Coach Turner also holds a US Soccer Federation “A” License and is active in her local youth sports community.     

As a college coach with 28 years of experience, I have seen sport grow and evolve. Along with the growth and evolution of sport have come societal changes within sport. The biggest changes I have witnessed is the lack of leadership development opportunities for young athletes. This is of serious concern because if young athletes are not leading on the playing fields or courts, they are not leading in their classrooms or communities. There are several ways that you can help your son or daughter expand their leadership base.

  • Ask them questions such as: What is leadership? Who are the leaders in their life? Why do they believe these people as leaders? Which behaviors do you think show positive leadership? Which behaviors do you think show negative leadership? Are they a leader? Why or why not? How do they lead? Do they lead by example or are they a vocal leader? I studied athlete leadership as one of the topics for my dissertation research along with team cohesion and athlete satisfaction. Therefore, I read many articles about athlete leadership and its significance on the individual athlete as well as the team. Frankly, the research suggests that coaches are not doing enough to develop leadership from their athletes as the focus is too often about results. However, coaches need leaders to help their teams function effectively. Certainly, parents serve as valuable leaders in their child’s development so I encourage you to help in the leadership development of your child.
  • Why does athlete leadership matter? Athlete leadership has a significant relationship with athlete satisfaction and team cohesion. Therefore, the leadership your son or daughter provides on his or her teams makes a difference in the environment of that team. The stronger the presence of leadership from within the athletes themselves, the more positive their experience. There is a need for increased leadership development because young people have limited opportunities to develop leadership skills which results in an overall leadership void. Trends in technology have created less of a need for children to communicate in person and parental involvement have established more planned playtime and supervised activities. Young people are not solving problems on the playground, having to make critical decisions, or creating teams or making up the rules of a game. 
  • You can help by providing your child opportunities to make decisions with your help and guidance. You can help by encouraging you child to lead by example. You can help by setting a good example for them to follow. You can help by playing board games at home which encourage decision making and camaraderie. You can provide them examples of effective leadership through real life examples. But mostly, you can help by teaching your child that his or her leadership matters and they influence those around them in a positive or negative way. Secondly, it is critical that all youngsters understand that they have the ability to develop leadership skills.

Learn more or request a demo of our youth sports software that is helping teams improve communication, organization and player development.

April 1, 2020

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