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How Virtual Coaching Platforms (‘VCP’) Help Youth Sports Adapt to COVID-19

MaxOne on June 30, 2020

LeaugeApps, a leading provider of youth sports management software solutions, recently published a survey of over 300 youth sports organizers. This comprehensive study reveals how organizers are adapting to the effects of COVID-19 by using digital tools for training, practices, coaching and community building. However, lingering concerns about player health and program effectiveness persist for many organizers and parents. This article will examine the top issues facing youth sports organizers and show how, with the right technology, these issues can be overcome to build a thriving organization.

How is COVID-19 Affecting Youth Sports Programs?

To understand how COVID-19 has changed the marketing, operation and administration of youth sports programs, it’s critical to first assess the current environment. The LeagueApps study includes nation-wide data from a wide variety of sports programs. Also included in the report is polling data from parents with children that are actively involved in sports programs. Altogether, this data provides clear indicators for how sports programs should change their operations, and the primary concerns among parents and players about program continuation.  

Key findings of the report include the following:

  • COVID-19 has accelerated trends in youth sports that were growing in popularity before the pandemic.
    • These trends include the adoption of digital applications frequently used by businesses (e.g. Zoom, Google Hangout), social media and virtual coaching platforms. 
  • Responding quickly and appropriately will determine whether organizations successfully navigate the “new normal.” 
    • Effective responses must include plans for remaining financially viable, ensuring players stay engaged and assuring parents about player safety. 54% of parents are unsure that their children’s sports programs will survive the pandemic effects.

Youth Sports Organizers are Using Virtual Meeting Tools to Adapt

60% of organizers surveyed said that they plan to use downtime during COVID-19 to focus on rebuilding their systems, processes and technology infrastructure. For most respondents, “technology infrastructure” means deploying some kind of virtual training and coaching capabilities.

In fact, the usage of virtual meeting technology was prevalent among almost all survey respondents, regardless of the program sport. Despite rapid adoption, the effectiveness of these new tools and their attractiveness to players varies significantly depending on the application(s) chosen.

A substantial majority of organizers are using virtual meeting tools or social media as interim virtual coaching solutions:

  • 50% of respondents are using Zoom or a similar business-focused webinar and meeting tools.
  • 25% of respondents are using common social media applications like Instagram.

How Effective are Virtual Meeting Tools for Youth Sports Programs?

While these tools have served sports programs as a temporary workaround, they will ultimately not provide the comprehensive solutions required for effective virtual coaching.

1 | They are insufficient as standalone communication platforms:

  • Many users have reported experiencing significant emotional and physical drain after using programs like Zoom; this is commonly called “Zoom fatigue”. While it can offer simple real-time 2-way communication, Zoom’s potentially negative side-effects can be mitigated by combining it with a virtual coaching platform (discussed below).
  • Popular social media applications like Instagram and Facebook have many features that make them distracting while in use. These applications are specifically designed to keep users preoccupied with notifications, news feeds and advertisements.  

2 | They are not built for virtual sports coaching:

  • Business-focused meeting tools like Zoom don’t facilitate team building opportunities like leaderboards, progress tracking and much more.
  • Many online meeting tools also lack any communication capabilities outside of when the meeting is currently in session. Effective, multi-channel (i.e. text and email) messaging is a key component of any successful virtual coaching program. 
  • Social media applications and webinar programs are not designed for distance athletic training (e.g. building virtual workout programs, drills and exercise routines). 

3 | They don’t support sustainable program growth:

  • Social media programs and tools like Zoom do not facilitate additional revenue generation for sports programs.
  • Additionally, online meeting tools do not provide an opportunity for sports programs to truly build their brand through whitelabeling capabilities, etc.

Top COVID-19 Concerns for Youth Sports Organizers and Parents

According to the LeaugueApps survey respondents, the primary impacts of COVID-19 specifically on youth sports are: 

  • Cancellation or delay of Fall sports programs
  • Generating interest in reformatted programs
  • Social distancing requirements that restrict safely conducting in-person practices
  • Parental concerns about player health and program continuation

So, how can youth sports organizers effectively and meaningfully respond to the challenges posed by technology constraints, COVID-19 restrictions and genuine concerns about player safety and program continuation?

The Benefits of Virtual Coaching Platforms

The alternatives to online meeting tools and social media applications are modern virtual coaching platforms (VCPs) designed specifically to facilitate remote communication, athlete training and team building.

Comprehensive and customizable VCPs like MaxOne provide organisers the ability to assure players and parents that their program can offer safe, compliant, highly effective and engaging experiences. 

MaxOne’s VCP was built for the challenges facing youth sports programs by offering advantages like the following:

  • Fight fatigue by combining Zoom with customizable training programs that allow players to proceed at their own pace – taking breaks as necessary to retain their focus and concentration.
  • Create additional revenue streams to support long-term financial health of the organization.
  • Mitigate the risk of future organization impacts due to COVID recurrence.
  • Differentiate program offerings with the most powerful virtual training experience available: 
    • On-demand training
    • Progress tracking over time
    • Compete on live leaderboards
    • Customizable training programs for individual athletes
    • AI-powered performance assessments

With an industry-leading VCP, organizers and coaches can offer players and parents innovative technology solutions that supplement in-person training and coaching. Benefits of this technology extend beyond a temporary fix for sports programs, including: 

  1. Increased player engagement
  2. Helping students develop self-discipline with practice schedules
  3. Greater coaching effectiveness on specific workout programs/techniques

Get started with a Virtual Coaching Platform Today

Regardless of how COVID-19 continues to impact youth sports, new research clearly shows that forward thinking organizers are focused on becoming more flexible, ensuring operational continuity and providing the most value possible to players and parents.

Experience the power of MaxOne’s Virtual Coaching Platform, and book a call today.

If you have questions please email info@gomaxone.com so a member from our team can assist you!