The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the youth sports industry. But how are the coaches feeling about covid and the impact to both them and their athletes? We at iSport360 wanted to find out what the impact was on youth sports. Specifically to sports organizations like rec teams, coaches, clubs and administrators.
We polled thousands of coaches, club administrators, sports organizations, trainers and managers. And received an overwhelming response on how this pandemic has impacted them.
Here is the State of Youth Sports and the Impact from Covid.
There were many challenges that youth sports had to face during covid. Many coaches were trying to figure out how to keep families and players engaged, remotely. Many teams and players had to sit out and not play a school, rec or club season.
Some schools moved their seasons, some clubs shut down, some kept playing and some had many start and stops based on where they were located. The rules on what you could do one week, often changed quickly. The mantra for many coaches and sports organizations was you must be able to adapt.
What was the biggest challenge you, your players and families faced during the pandemic as it related to youth sports?
There were many concerns but most of our respondents. When asked about the season they were mostly concerned if they would even play again this year.
36% of our respondents said that not knowing when they would play again was the biggest challenge and a stressor. A close second and third was how were they, the coaches, going to keep players and families engaged and how would the impact of covid affect the mental health of their players.
Quote: Keeping the season and development moving forward.
What was the one thing you missed the most about your sport and coaching?
Overwhelmingly, coaches missed not being able to play or compete. Covid impacted youth sports in a big way. 68% of respondents said that they missed not being able to play their sport and to compete. One of the greatest benefits of being a coach is to see your players develop over time. It is what inspires coaches to keep going.
Quote: I missed not being able to see the kids improve.
Have you had virtual practices using Zoom or another product?
When it comes to concerns from coaches, keeping players and families informed and engaged was a challenge. While this was a challenge, many of our respondents, 63% did not have virtual practice. Of the 37% that did conduct virtual practice, they used Zoom as a way to connect.
Quote: We used zoom to connect virtually.
Have your youth sports players practiced their sport in person and competed against other teams?
A large number of respondents, 59%, said that they practiced and competed against other teams during the pandemic. Another 18% only practiced. Coaches did say that only having practice was a challenge. They were challenged by keeping players engaged each week.
Quote: It was challenging keeping players engaged when we were only practicing.
Have you had to close your sports program due to issues related to the pandemic?
43% of our respondents had to shut down their team(s) during the pandemic and issues related to the pandemic.
Quote: While it was hard to be shut down, we connected with our players and families with some online training and chats.
Have you used any sports technology to help your players develop during the pandemic?
80% of coaches and teams did not use any technology to help players develop. Of the 20% that did use technology, those coaches used Zoom, YouTube training videos and our football coaches used Techne.
While the proportion of coaches that used technology was small, many used a variety of tools to keep their players engaged and active.
Quote: We used Zoom and some other platforms to train our athletes and stay connected.
Are you back to a normal season and routine similar to 2019?
Yes! Over 74% of respondents said that they are having practice and competing against other teams. In some cases coaches have some limits but are still getting out and playing the sports they love.
What was surprising was that over 10% of respondents had MORE practice and competitions than they did in the past. Could it be a time of catching up on activities? Or making up for lost time?
Quote: We have had more practice and competitions.
What is the one thing you want to change to make youth sports better?
With a year of reflection, a lot of coaches, parents and sports organizers are trying to determine if there are changes to be made to youth sports that can positively impact the players.
We asked that question and got a lot of responses. One of our favorites was about putting the fun back into sports. Another theme was about engaging the parents in a way that can create a positive environment for coaches and players. The goal is to keep coaches coaching.
Many areas in the US restricted parents from spectating their child’s sporting events. This actually created a more positive environment for the players, coaches and refs. It kept the sports fun, competitive but without any negativity. How do we take this theme further and create a more fun experience for all?
Quote: Realize how much we missed it when we couldn’t play which, hopefully, will make us appreciate it more (including respecting other players & referees, parents learning to encourage their kids & sportsmanship from all involved)!
The iSport360 Survey: State of Youth Sports and the Impact from Covid results we saw how coaches have felt during the past year, the challenges they faced and how they have had to adapt to change. All of this while balancing their own personal needs and families. It hasn’t been easy but some bright sports have emerged. There were three themes that emerged.
- How do we keep players engaged both on and off the field?
- How do we keep parents positive and supportive? Both in the car ride home and on the sideline.
- What do we need to do about the mental well being of athletes?
These three themes are connected. Our mission at iSport360 is to help coaches, players and parents stay active, connected and strong. We are here to help take these positive views forward.
Want to get the complete report, click HERE for more details.