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Reaching Today’s Athlete With Technology

by Matt Schaefgen

SMASH Routes

May 29, 2019 | 

2 minutes, 47 seconds read

Coach in Huddle with Blanket

Today's athlete uses technology in all aspects of their life. Youth sports programs can leverage this fact to better engage their players and grow their programs.

If you’re also a member of an older generation, you probably see how different today’s youth sports environment is in comparison to the when we were kids. Playing multiple sports involves new challenges and the level of competition continues to grow at younger ages. Year-long commitments are now the norm, which can invite chaos to a player’s schedule with diminishing returns sooner in their career. 

Finding a balance can mean the difference between nurturing a fun youth sports experience and potentially burning out, ending your child’s career before it starts. How are parents, schools and youth organizations conquering this challenge? 

They’re leveraging technology, and here’s how:

MAKE FUN #1

Studies have shown we have forgotten the real reason kids play sports: to have FUN. Sure, competition is healthy and teaches kids to handle failure, but we must make it fun along the way to keep them coming back. Coaches create games in practices to keep players engaged, and now there are ways to do this off the field. The SportsTech industry has introduced some great apps and tools that keep kids learning on their own in fun and interactive ways.

MEET ON THEIR TURF

Have you ever had to text your child while in the same house because that’s the only way to get their attention? In this moment of disbelief, I realized I needed to relearn the parent-child connection methods to gain a better understanding of their childhood. After years of fighting my family’s reliance on technology, I have found ways to connect on and off-screen. Learning about sports through educational gaming apps with my kids allowed us to transfer that learning to the court or field.

MODERNIZE PRACTICE

Field time is a premium these days. Availability is limited, costs are rising, and multi-sport athletes are often faced with scheduling conflicts. Coaches and organizations are turning to technology to supplement their on-field practices. Players can learn the X’s and O’s on their terms in a style that resonates, which allows coaches to maximize practice time and focus on developing fundamental skills. And when the weather doesn’t cooperate, technology can help bridge the gap between practices.

WIN SCREEN TIME

The battle for screen time is never-ending. However, if you provide educational options to your child, they can benefit while swiping and tapping away at their screen, which can offer a sense of accomplishment. Many sports training apps focus on both the physical and mental sides of the game. Preparation not only leads to success on the field, but also builds self-confidence and prolongs careers as your athlete strives to improve.

TIPS ON HOW TO DO IT RIGHT:

  1. Find the right technology and research how others have found success

  2. Test part of the program first

  3. Embrace the technology and promote it

  4. Embed it into your program/team’s process

  5. Track progress and continuously adapt

A successful program is one that encourages participation while developing athletes for the next level. If you’re not incorporating technology into your program, you’ll likely struggle to keep up with those who do. Discover  what works best for your program and watch the smiles grow.

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