Youth sports should be a rewarding, positive experience for children. But all too often these activities aren’t and become a childhood nightmare filled with emotional abuse and negativity.
That’s why the Washington Council for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and a University of Washington sport psychologist are teaming up to hold a series of 10 workshops across Washington to train at least a thousand coaches and make participation in youth athletics a more positive experience for youngsters, parents and coaches.
The first two workshops are scheduled in Chehalis next Saturday, Oct. 18, and in Olympia on Nov. 8. The Chehalis workshop will be from 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Light House Church, 603 NW St. Helens Ave. The Olympia clinic is scheduled to run from 8:45 a.m. to noon in the Olympia Community Center, 222 N. Columbia St. Other workshops will be held in Spokane, Tacoma, Port Angeles, Moses Lake, Bellevue, Seattle and Bellingham. (Note: A schedule of all 10 workshops is below.)
“Unfortunately, abusive coaches are a significant problem in youth sports,– says Charles Shelan of Olympia, program committee chair of the Washington Council for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
“Most coaches are volunteers and receive little or no training. Many don’t understand child development and are only concerned with winning. This kind of coach can hammer a lot of self-esteem out of a child.–
The workshops will be conducted by Frank Smoll, UW psychology professor and one of the creators of the Coach Effectiveness Training program. Smoll and his colleague, Ronald Smith, another UW psychology professor, developed the program from nearly 20 years of research to determine the most effective and positive ways of coaching young athletes. They have taught their methods to more than 13,000 coaches in workshops around the United States.
“Coaches need to remember that youth sports are organized and run by adults for the benefit of children,– says Smoll. “They should have a child-oriented focus, not an adult one. People who coach youngsters should be doing it because it is fun for them, the kids and their parents, and what every coach needs is a genuine care and concern for children.–
The council, which was created to provide leadership and a statewide focus on preventing child abuse and neglect, is funding the workshops with a $12,000 grant.
“Smoll and Smith’s approach in educating coaches fosters positive attitudes and shows children how they can win on and off the field,– says Shelan. “What is particularly impressive about the program is that coaches really respond to it. Often it is the first training they’ve received in coaching youth sports.–
For additional information contact Smoll at (206) 543-4612 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Shelan at (360) 943-0780, ext. 638. Additional details about the Chehalis workshop are available from Lily Wall at (360) 748-0271; details about the Olympia workshop are available from Irene Marzwick at (360) 456-5289.