About Me

Jack Perconte

The Analytics Hurt Youth Sports

Youth sports coaching tips of the day

 

Adults must remember youth sports are not professional ones.  Everything in major sports today seems to be about the numbers. In youth sports, they can be a real detriment.

 

Adults, coaches, and parents often fall into the analytics trap. We tell kids to practice and work hard to improve, but then state every statistic about the player when asked how they are doing.

 

I tell team parents is that their child cannot receive a scholarship before they get into high school. Maybe there is the occasional, unreasonable case where a player was offered one in eighth grade, but that is not the point. The critical point is that players’ statistics and personal stardom at a young age mean little. I’ve witnessed countless players who were the best at a young age and never amounted to much. The numbers are generally unimportant for youth, so coaches and parents should not report or make individual statistics known. Keep them to yourself if you feel they are essential.

 

Who are the players who succeed the most? The ones who do not play each game for statistics but for improvement. It’s essential adults care little about statistics and keep the players focus on skill development and overall knowledge. Coach’s should use the eye test to recognize if players are improving, rather than the analytics.

 

Player’s statistics, averages, percentages, and the like build some confidence when a youngster is doing well, but they can be very discouraging when performance falls off. Often, they do not tell the real story anyway as things like luck, size, and the level played often skew the numbers with youth players.

 

Averages can be very demoralizing when compared to others, and they can give young players the feeling they are a failure. If players are improving their fundamentals and knowledge, good results usually show up later. Keep reminding your players of the long-range goal (making the high-school team, for example), which may be years away. This plan builds hope because there is time for improvement, and each game will not have a “do or die” feeling to it.