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  • Jeffery Johnson

Rebuilding Youth Athletics-The Opportunity COVID-19 Presented To Reform A Damaged System

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

I know what you’re thinking…

What “opportunity” could COVID-19 present that’s positive and beneficial to the world? The answer to that question is complex, but it’s also simple. When the world shut down in March, we saw first hand what idols we placed in high esteem when they were taken from us. Those idols consisted of things such as sports, entertainment, and fellowship. But what we didn’t understand then, and we may not fully understand now, is that we have a chance to start over. We have an opportunity to reform and rebuild the broken system of youth athletics. The system that glorifies sport involvement over education. The system that tries to control and monetize young people’s futures while not paying them.

Millions of citizens around the world were forced to reconcile with family members because the threat of death. Employers were forced to creatively provide their product/services to their customers through extra-cleanliness and “on the go” formats. (Not a bad thing) Average working citizens learned that job security doesn’t offer much security when you’re not calling the shots. And lastly, a major pause were put on one of the leading entertainment industries in the world being sports.

I believe I know where the future of sports will head. I knew five years ago that sports would take a drastic change from showcase, and transition to development. I found out that one-on-one private training would take off creating a billion dollar industry. Parents would want their kids to develop their skills earlier in the hopes of gaining an athletic scholarships. When I was graduating from high school, I could name on one hand the number of basketball trainers in Memphis. Now, everyone with access to a goal, can call themselves a trainer.

I’m not knocking their hustle, because I’m one of them, but I see where sports trainers can really leave a lasting imprint during this time. Let me give you an example:

At the time of this post, school has yet to start, and there is constant debate on the delivery method of continuing the students education. Only two sports have been cleared for the fall in Tennessee, and many parents are sitting on their thumbs waiting on things to finally turn around. The problem is, COVID-19 has yet to slow down. In fact, we’ve reached roughly 4 million confirmed cases making us the #1 infected country in the world. During this time, however, I have been contemplating he best way to develop my kids, and keep everyone safe.

Because I’m not super tech savvy, virtual sessions didn’t sit well with me. I tried it once, and it was a massive hassle to continue. Instead, I figured out how to be in close-enough proximity with them, and provide my training services. Did you know that 90% of youth sports coaches in the United States do not have formal training in coach education or youth development”? (Ewing et al., 1996) Everyone believes they can coach until they are in a position to lead and mentor young lives. That’s daunting to me. The people in position to help shape the next generation of an industry, where roughly 40 million youth participated in, has limited knowledge on what they’re doing.

I have a solution.

Disclaimer: I’m not trying to put out a shameless plug on my product, but my training business has never made this much profit, and impact in such a short period of time. In September of 2020, I’m launching my newest book that teaches average Joe citizens “how” to develop their kids during this pandemic that will build the kids’ confidence, sharpen their skills, eliminate bad habits and techniques, and build positive morale with their mentor/coach.

Private coaching is the answer. It’s limited to a few people, and you can control the variables. Below are 3 things you can do to effectively train your student athletes while keeping everyone safe.

#1-Wear Gloves And A Mask

Once you get used to it, the mask doesn’t become too much of a distraction for you. Since March, I have trained at client’s houses, and at a gym I manage, and no one has contracted the virus. Simply put, I stay at least 6 feet away from them 90% of the time. We don’t have to worry about both the athlete, and I, touching the ball because of the gloves. And lastly, I wear the mask so they won’t have to. It’s already difficult talking with the mask. Making the athletes wear it is dangerous, and risky. Wear the mask, and keep your distance.

#2-Find The Right Space To Train

All of the parks in Memphis have removed the rims from the neighborhood goals so that’s not an option. I recommend either training at someone’s home, or finding a gym that allows private training. It’s safer, and could help bring in more revenue for the gym facility.

#3-Subscribe To The Trained By Jeff Community

I’m giving away all of my strategies, tips, and processes to start and scale your training business the right way. After 5 years of training and running a successful sports business, playing collegiate basketball for Mississippi State University, receiving a degree in teaching and coaching, working with major US youth development non-profits, and being a NASM Certified Personal Trainer with a specialization in Youth Exercise, I’ve learned a thing or two about youth development. Let me be “your” coach! I can show you the way! Sign up to receive frequent content on my upcoming book titled Great Coaches Have Faith: Sports Guide for Aspiring Coaches. It releases within the next month and a half so stay tuned!

We can rebuild the youth athletic system if we learn the way. I’m not saying my way is the only way, but I’ve seen this to be true. This thing is more than sports. We need to develop their character. We need to teach them how faith plays a major roll in all of this. We also need to teach them “why” we play the game.

I don’t have all of the answers, and I don’t know how much longer we’re going to deal with COVID-19. What I do know is that kids will still need training. Even parents can help build phenomenal habits in their athletes. By doing so, we’ll slowly change the system, and the mindsets of those that miss it.

Always remember your purpose and your worth net. Never a day are you worth-less, because you’re worth it…And so much more!”

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