Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

The role of municipal park and recreation agencies in enacting coach and parent training in a loosely coupled youth sport system

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By: C. Dykstra

Barcelona & Young (2010) speak to the identified need for municipal parks and recreation departments to accept their role in offering, managing and enforcing sport parent and coaching education and training. Though municipalities offer or support sport programming to 38M children nation wide (resources, leadership, program support or facility infrastructure) there are no standards set or enforcement for facilitators of youth sports programs with regards to coach training or parent education. Voluntary youth sport organizations (VSOs) cater to fewer participants, though they are still reliant on municipal recreation agencies for support (facilities and programmatic support) with approximately 70% of VSO programming being delivered through various affiliations with municipal recreation agencies.

Both municipalities and VSOs have identified the need for coach and parent training/education, though it has been identified that they are unable to offer this support for various reasons (lack of resources to administer, track and enforce sport training, lack of qualified personnel to serve as trainers, lack of budget to finance training).

I felt that the article accurately portrayed gaps within service delivery from a municipal perspective, though the findings to me indicated that further research should be conducted to get at the qualitative perspective of these gaps. Through qualitative research, researchers may be able to better bridge the gap between delivery systems and allow for opportunity to build organizational capacity, volunteerism and more succinct hiring practices of both paid and volunteer staff.

Furthermore, future research could be conducted around process and policies regarding hiring practices or partnership development to mitigate the strain on resources both human and capital between both sport and recreation delivery systems.

Thus, this leads to question of who should be taking education and training responsibilities for coaches and parents, municipalities or VSOs.

Questions raised:

1) Who should be responsible for the training and education in question? Why?

2) It was noted within the article that poor sportsmanship among parents was a significant problem within sport programming among municipal agencies.

  • What would be your first step in rectifying this issue?
  • Who are the key players in these steps?
  • What are the budget allocations?
  • How are decisions made?

3) Good leadership of youth sport involves adults – adults who for the most part are well intentioned, but often untrained in making administrative decisions about community based sport programs and as such, appropriate training is needed. What approach would you take to ensure that coaches were qualified to do their job (either VSO or municipal perspective)?

  • Background checks, prior experience, coach education, expert volunteers
  • Train the trainer model
  • Share resources such as facilities for training (bartering)

Like the Sharpe (2006) article discussed by Ries, there is a dependency on volunteers (generally parents), but these VSOs have the human capital; just not the expertise à Expert volunteerism is needed

4) As researchers, athletes, coaches and participants, what impact do you feel that qualified coaching has/had on your personal sporting experiences? Based on the information presented today, do you still feel that your first choice is still appropriate?

Aside from my municipality and my current research project; here is a great example of other communities beginning to bridge this gap through partnership, sharing the role of training and education. Though this community is in Ireland, the process and implementation are very similar to a Canadian or American context. Enjoy!

Refs:

Barcelona, R.J. & Young, S.J. (2010). The role of municipal park and recreation agencies in enacting coach and parent training in a loosely coupled youth sport system. Managing Leisure, 15, 181-197.

Author: UNB_KINRSS

UNB Faculty of Kinesiology: Bachelor of Recreation & Sports Studies, MBA in Sport & Recreation Management, and Master of Arts in Sport & Recreation Studies

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