3 min read

As a high school coach, I believe one of the best things you can do is to build youth "feeder" programs. This takes finding creative ways to get lower-school aged kids involved in your program.

This past November and December (2016) we had our annual Youth Softball “Mini-League” for girls in grades Kindergarten-2nd grade. We “herded cats” for one day per week for four weeks, and then culminated with “game-day” on a Saturday morning.

It was a great time!  The girls had fun and it was a great introduction to softball for seventeen girls ages 4-7.

If you are trying to build a high school program, I strongly encourage you to do some sort of clinic for young girls or boys (depending on what you coach). It is a lot of work and organization, but here are some of the benefits:

Benefit #1: Little Kids are Exposed to You as the Head Coach (Relationship Building)

If you want to impact the players that you lead, then it all starts with having positive relationships. Through youth clinics, you are beginning to build that rapport and relationship with some of your future players. This will help you to connect with and impact these very same girls later on when they enter your program.

Benefit #2: It Helps Parents Get Excited About Your Program

If you are doing a youth clinic, I strongly encourage you to invite parents to come out and watch (at least for one day). This is why we do the “Saturday Game Day” to culminate our fall clinic for grades K-2nd.

For many kids, it’s their first experience with a sport and it increases the excitement for both parents and players when Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, etc. are all able to come out and cheer on their little girl or boy for the first time!

Benefit #3: It Increases the Chances of Getting Good Athletes Playing

While it is possible for a child to start a sport in middle school and have that be their primary sport, it just doesn’t happen that way very often. 

The truth is, if they are playing other sports for a few years before they ever try your sport, they are not very likely to play during high school.

Benefit #4: Little Kids are Exposed to the “Big Kids” in Your Program (More Relationship Building)

If you are able to have your players volunteer, it becomes one of the highlights for the little kids. They will think it’s very cool that they get to interact with the “big kids” in your program.

The truth is, if I did not have player volunteers I would have to ask parents. Trying to keep track of twenty 5-6 year-olds is nearly impossible with 2 coaches. You are more than welcome to try it by yourself but I’ll pass! Just be aware that you may want to poke out your eyeballs!

Benefit #5: Extra Income

We all now that coaching high school or travel/club ball in and of itself will not make you rich. Thus, if you charge for your clinics (which I do recommend), it gives you some extra incentive as well.

And while coaches by nature tend to be very giving (just look at the time you spend on coaching), it helps when parents have some “skin in the game” (money) to make the commitment to getting “Sally” to the field.

If you are coaching high school sports, then having some sort of youth clinic or program can have a huge impact on your program.

This becomes your “feeder system” to help you build and maintain a competitive program.

If you leave it up to chance, you will loose some kids to other sports or programs by not exposing them to you, your coaching staff, and your players.

If you don’t have the time to make it lengthy, then a 1 or 2 day simple clinic might be best. In fact, if you are working with kids in K-2nd, then 45-60 minutes per session is PLENTY.

But don’t leave it to chance! Expose young players to you and your program this year!