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June 20, 2018 • Athletic AdministrationCoaching

2018 Coaches Report: Playing club sports

For seven years, Coach & Athletic Director has published a report examining high school sports through the eyes of the athletic director. The success of our annual State of the Industry survey, and the insight it has provided athletic administrators nationwide, encouraged us to begin the same analysis with sport coaches.

Our inaugural Coaches Report explores a handful of the biggest issues in team sports — coach-parent relationships, sport specialization, club and travel leagues, administrative support. As with our athletic director survey, our goal is to identify the greatest challenges and opportunities in the coaching profession. This helps shape Coach & Athletic Director’s content and provides valuable insight for coaches everywhere.

This year’s survey of 488 coaches confirmed some suspicions and offered a few surprises. Nearly all coaches oppose single-sport participation, and most of them openly encourage their athletes to take up other sports. And while combative parents continue to be a headache for coaches everywhere, an overwhelming majority said they have a healthy relationship with moms and dads.

Here’s a closer look at some of our findings.

Playing club sports

High school coaches have strong opinions about club sports, and the perception by most is that these organizations do more harm than good.

Click to enlarge.

More than 36 percent of coaches in our survey said that club sports were destructive to the mission of high school coaches. The education-based model is built around athletics as a tool to enhance personal growth, and public school coaches said they believed the majority of club programs emphasize profit and specialization. Only 15 percent of coaches believed club sports were beneficial.

“There are some positive aspects of playing a club sport, if it’s done the correct way,” said one coach. “It depends on the coaches and the philosophy of the club. I have seen positive outcomes and negative outcomes.”

Other feedback was not so supportive.

“They selfishly hoard athletes,” said a high school coach. “They take students away from contributing to other school programs and give students and their parents inflated expectations of achieving future aspirations, often contributing to overuse injuries. They also put financial stress on some families, and sometimes undermine in-school programs.”

“I feel that many of the coaches at the club level are in it to sell a bill of goods to players and their families,” said another coach. “It creates a situation and culture where there are false promises made and they are told this is the only way to get a scholarship. What they do not realize or account for is that academics is the key to a scholarship — not specialization.”

In this year’s survey, coaches ranked problems with club/travel organizations as the eighth most concerning issue in their jobs.

More from the 2018 Coaches Report


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