Needs assessment for coaches of young children


Coaches of young children (8 years old and under) are often parents or volunteers with little to no sport or coaching experience. While youth sport research primarily examines adolescents, this population is unexplored and their coaches receive minimal support or training to assist them in fulfilling their role. The current study involves a 'needs assessment' focused on the difficulties faced by these coaches and how these difficulties may influence their confidence to coach this unique age group. Coaches (n = 123; 67.4% males) participated in an online survey involving their motivations for coaching, perceptions of challenges as well as confidence. Ranging from 18-70 (M age = 40), participants spent less time coaching the under 8 population then they spent coaching in general (M years coaching = 9.38; M years coaching under 8 = 6.36). Their reported motivations were; enjoyed working with children (59.3%), to help out in the community (46.3%), and to coach their own child (43%). The majority of the sample (n = 90) said they intended to coach this age group again. Multiple linear regression analyses found that the coaches' confidence was predicted by demographics (R2 = .296, F(5,11) = 9.33, p < .000); the length of time coaching children under 8 being a significant individual predictor. Further, confidence was predicted by challenges (R2 = .272, F(9,111) = 4.59, p < .000); specifically sport knowledge. Results from this study may aid in identifying resources that would support this unique population.