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A Youth Sports Charter

As organized youth sport programs continue to proliferate and become more sophisticated, a need has arisen to help guide the development of such programs and to evaluate their effectiveness. Designed specifically for recreational youth sports agencies, this Youth Sport Charter is a roadmap for communities and organizations seeking to enhance the quality of their organized youth sport programs.

Guidelines for Recreational Youth Sport Agencies:

Introduction

As organized youth sport programs continue to proliferate and become more sophisticated, a need has arisen to help guide the development of such programs and the evaluation of their effectiveness. Designed specifically for recreational youth sports agencies, this Youth Sport Charter is a roadmap for communities and organizations seeking to enhance the quality of their organized youth sport programs.

The Youth Sport Charter concept was initiated by the Rutgers Youth Sports Research Council, in cooperation with New Jersey Recreation and Park Association. The YSRC and th NJRPA began the process by assembling a group of individuals who administer outstanding youth sport programs to serve on a task force and to help identify the Core Elements of a quality youth sport program (see Addendum A).

Rather than prescribe "The Way" to administer a recreational youth sport program, the Youth Sport Charter is structured so that a variety of methods can be used to adequately meet the guidelines.

The Core Elements of the Charter

  1. Formal Mission Statement
  2. Organization and Administration
  3. Staff/Volunteer Recruitment
  4. Coach Development/Training
  5. Coordination of Allied Community Groups
  6. Equipment and Facilities
  7. Evaluation and Recognition
  8. Parent Education/Orientation Program
  9. Discipline/Grievance Process
  10. Recruitment, Training and Credentialing of Officials
  11. Finance

Core Elements

    1. Formal Mission Statement: A quality youth sport organization has a formal mission statement that includes:
      1. A philosophy appropriate for children and youth, that considers both the recreational and competitive aspects of the program and also provides a coherent sense of direction, an identifiable set of priorities, and establishes a plan for equitable distribution of resources for all participants in the program.
      2. Explicit statements of policies, strategies and objectives to achieve an applied, strategic
        plan.
      3. An explanation of the outcomes expected as a result of the organization's philosophy, policies, strategies and objectives.
      4. A plan for the systematic re assessment of the organization's philosophy, policies, strategies and objectives.
    2. Organization and Administration: A quality youth sport organization establishes and/or maintains:
      1. An organizational and administrative structure that is independent of individual people and/or personalities.
      2. A constitution and bylaws.
      3. Membership in and compliance with appropriate sports organizations when circumstances dictate.
      4. Clear, recognized sport specific rules and regulations governing each sport sponsored by the organization.
      5. An organizational chart that identifies staff/volunteer reporting relationships.
      6. Reasonable, appropriate and accessible documentation using generally accepted record keeping procedures.
      7. Regular, two way communication between the organization's leadership and constituents.
      8. Sufficient risk management procedures including, but not limited to, accident/medical and liability insurance to all affiliated groups (e.g., coaches, athletes, and officials) in consultation with qualified legal and risk management professionals.
    3. Staff/Volunteer Recruitment: A quality youth sport organization:
      1. Defines and promotes the characteristics of a "good" coach.
      2. Establishes minimum eligibility requirements for adult volunteers (e.g., criminal background checks, coach's training/orientation, continuing education requirements, etc.).
      3. Identifies both the categories of, and the target markets for, those volunteers needed to systematically fill expected vacancies.
      4. Establishes the number of volunteers needed for safe and effective functioning of the program (e.g., coaches per team, administrators per league, support staff per program).
      5. Develops strategies for recruiting new coaches and for minimizing volunteer attrition.
    4. Coach Development/Training: A quality youth sport organization establishes and maintains:
        1. An orientation program for all coaches that meets the minimum standard of care in their respective state (e.g., the Rutgers S.A.F.E.T.Y. Clinic in New Jersey).
        2. A continuing education program for veteran coaches which includes at least the following topics:
          1. Child Development
          2. Sport Psychology/Sociology
          3. Growth & Development Issues
          4. Risk Management
          5. First Aid/CPR
          6. Sport Rules/Techniques/Strategies
          7. Team Organization/Administration

      1. A mechanism for providing coaches with adequate feedback and proper mentoring throughout the season to enhance their professional development.
    5. Coordination of Allied Community Groups: A quality youth sport organization: i. Coordinates its' activities with other community groups that administer and/or support youth sport programs (e.g., Park & Recreation Departments, Boards of Education, Religious Institutions). Particular areas of concern might include:
      1. Recruitment and registration of athletes.
      2. Scheduling of the sports season.
      3. Use of facilities/fields for practices and competitions.

 

  1. Equipment and Facilities: A quality youth sport organization:
    1. Regularly conducts an inventory and needs assessment for all equipment and facilities.
    2. Establishes and maintains a maintenance program that:
      1. Meets appropriate design and safety standards (e.g., National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
      2. Identifies who is responsible for maintenance issues.
    3. Provides and maintains equipment and facilities that comply with applicable playing rules.
  2. Evaluation and Recognition: A quality youth sport organization establishes and maintains:
    1. A comprehensive program that acknowledges and rewards the contributions of its volunteers/staff.
    2. A mechanism for promoting outstanding individuals within the organization.
    3. A formal, objective procedure for monitoring and supervising all individuals who act on behalf of the organization (e.g., coaches, officials, administrators).
  3. Parent Education/Orientation Program: A quality youth sport organization establishes and maintains:
    1. An orientation program for all parents/guardians of participating athletes which includes at least the following topics: 
      1. Program orientation including mission and philosophy.
      2. Publicly acknowledged code of behavior and penalties for code violations
      3. Differentiation of roles/expectations of parents, coaches, officials, and administrators.
      4. Accessibility of coaches and administrators
      5. Disclosure of costs. 
      ii. A formal procedure for parental input and feedback.
  4. Discipline/Grievance Process: A quality youth sport organization establishes:
    1. Clear guidelines for expected behavior on the part of all participants.
    2. Fair procedures for sanctioning individuals who violate guidelines.
    3. Codes of conduct for athletes, coaches and parents which are formally acknowledged by all participants.
    4. A non partisan, experienced, representative panel of individuals to adjudicate policy violations.
    5. A procedure for determining whether the discipline/grievance process should be handled internally or externally.
  5. Recruitment, Training and Credentialing of Officials: A quality youth sport organization:
    1. Provides qualified individuals to officiate all athletic contests.
    2. Recruits individuals from existing, established officials organizations or trains officials in house.
    3. Matches the officials' sophistication, level of training, and experience with the level of competition to which they are assigned.
  6. Finance: A quality youth sport organization:
    1. Develops a budget which is fiscally sound, ratified by the organization's governance, and made available to the organization's membership.
    2. Follows generally accepted accounting procedures.
    3. Raises funds and procures goods and services in a manner that can be verified.
    4. Provides a clear statement of costs for participating in the program (e.g., equipment, travel, insurance, etc.).
    5. Is regularly reviewed by a qualified accounting firm.

Addendum A

Youth Sports Charter Task Force

Mike Finkelstein, Princeton Recreation Commission
Leigh Gerhart, East Brunswick Parks & Recreation
Tim Hegedus, Stafford Little League
Michael Hritz, Hopewell Valley Recreation
Bill Richardson, Tewksbury Athletic Association
Beth Richmond, Medford Recreation
Bob Rynkiewicz, Carteret Junior Softball
Jack Roberts, Princeton Recreation
John VanBrunt, Randolph Recreation
Pete Wright, Bernards Twsp. Recreation

Dave Feigley, Dept. of Exercise Science and Sport Studies, Rutgers University
Gregg Heinzmann, Youth Sports Research Council, Rutgers University

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Youth Sports Research Council
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