Coaching Youth Sports

Coaching football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey for kids

Most youth sports organizations (Little League, Pop Warner, etc.) are non-profit and depend on volunteers to run smoothly -- or to run at all. Coaching youth sports can be a great way to contribute to your community, enjoy the outdoors, stay active, and bond with your own child or children.

While you don't have to be an expert to coach at this level, you should, of course, be familiar with the sport you're coaching. That being said, most organizations offer training for people who want to become coaches, so you can brush up on the ins and outs of the game and pick up some tips for helping kids develop their skills.

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Coaching Football for Kids

Pop Warner, the main youth football organization, now offers online coaching courses for both football and cheer/dance, in partnership with the American Sport Education Program (ASEP). These courses are relatively inexpensive (about $20) and can be completed at your own pace. They cover rules, responsibilities, recommendations, drills, and game strategies, delivered through text, images, video clips, checklists, and other methods. When you're done the course, you take an online test that is automatically scored, and if you pass, you are certified to coach for the Pop Warner Little Scholars program.

Coaching Youth Soccer

If you want to coach a youth soccer team, the US Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) offers a variety of education resources, including online soccer coaching education. They also have a Coaches Connection program that provides access to practice plans, games, training activities, discounts on equipment and supplies, and a subscription to Success in Soccer magazine. The cost is about $30 a year or $50 for two years. Members also gain access to guest lectures and forums with other coaches through the national network.

Coaching Youth Basketball

Unlike with youth baseball, football, or soccer, there is no universally recognized governing body for youth basketball in the United States. Rather, there are several associations and organizations promoting the sport, and none has yet risen to the status that Little League has in baseball or Pop Warner in football. If you'd like to volunteer as a coach in your local youth basketball league, check with the organizer to see which basketball coaching training program they recommend. Many are available online for less than $50.

Coaching Youth Hockey

USA Hockey's Coaching Education Program (CEP) includes various levels of certification, as well as age-specific modules. Certified coaches must continue to complete courses throughout their first 10 years of coaching, and are encouraged to do so every two years afterward in order to remain up-to-date in their knowledge and coaching techniques. In order to aid this continuing education, USA Hockey does its best to keep fees low and also waives certain fees for registered coaches.

Coaching Youth Baseball

Little League International offers its volunteer coaches "Big Al" baseball clinics, led by Big Al Price and his son. These four-hour sessions provide volunteer coaches with the basic knowledge and skills to successfully coach a Little League team through a variety of hands-on exercises. Coaches are then supported through a variety of materials on the Little League website and through Little League administrative offices throughout the country.