Saskatoon Minor Football (SMF) is a registered not-for-profit league that prides itself in bringing physical literacy enriched football programs to all ages and skill levels. They first established a youth flag football program in 2014 and have been seeing tremendous growth ever since. They saw flag football as a valuable avenue to get more youth involved in the sport but did not anticipate just how popular this new version of the game would be within their local communities. In the spring of 2018, SMF was up to over 100 youth flag football teams (1,200+ players).
SMF wanted to ensure all participants were developing strong fundamental football skills while having a positive first experience with the goal of promoting lifelong participation. One of the biggest challenges that the organization began to face was finding enough coaches to meet the demand of their rapidly growing leagues, while simultaneously ensuring all coaches had the necessary training and knowledge to deliver a quality program. SMF knew that they would need to turn to volunteer coaches in order to avoid turning away registered players which would mean turning to parents who had little to no experience coaching football. How did SMF Utilize volunteer coaches without sacrificing the quality of coaching?
WHAT DID THEY TRY?
SMF had a variety of coach training and support options offered by their provincial and national associations but found each one came with its own issues related to supporting their new volunteer coaches.
IN-PERSON COACHING CLINICS
Coaching clinics offered by their provincial association were usually designed for experienced high-level football coaches, meaning they were not the best fit for parent volunteers. SMF resorted to running their own in-person clinics before the season started, but found it was difficult to get their parent volunteers to commit to attending these weekend or evening clinics, making their coaching shortage problem even worse!
LONG E-LEARNING COURSES
Football Canada offered a few e-learning courses for new coaches. Although these learning courses were shorter and more accessible than in-person clinics, coaches felt the courses did not leave them with the knowledge base required to adequately coach their team for an entire season. These courses did not solve the previous issue of asking volunteer coaches to commit their valuable time.
THE FOOTBALL CANADA COACHING APP, POWERED BY ATHLETE ERA!
SMF decided to utilize the supercomputer that is in everyone's pockets and have their volunteer coaches download the Football Canada mobile app! Regardless of how much these volunteers knew about coaching football, this tool helped the organization continue to provide high-quality programming through detailed week-to-week guidance. This low-cost solution struck a perfect balance between being a consumable resource that provides valuable information but not requiring their volunteers to spend hours and hours reading PDF files on the internet.
HOW THE APP WAS IMPLEMENTED
A single 45-minute interactive session on how to use the app at the beginning of the season was all it to put the app into use! Within this session, volunteer coaches learned how to find specific drills, how to review pre-made practice plans, and how to make modifications to the practice plan. This session helped coaches familiarize themselves with the app with the opportunity to gain confidence in using the app and ask questions they may have.
WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?
After one season, the results were mind-blowing! Let's take a look at some of the more interesting numbers.
When asked how the mobile app compared to other forms of coach training and support (e-learning courses, YouTube Video libraries, or pdf practice plans), 92% of coaches said they preferred the mobile app. 83% of coaches reported that the app made them feel more confident when coaching.
When asked if giving all coaches access to the mobile app provided reassurance that their child received quality coaching regardless of what team they were placed on, 75% of parents said yes. Additionally, the low cost of this mobile learning resource meant SMF could provide quality educational materials to all coaches and parents league-wide at the same cost as running a single weekend-long clinic for 30 coaches
FEEDBACK FROM COACHES
I had a comment from a parent that they thought I had coached football for years because of how we ran the practice when in reality this is my first year. - Wayne F.
This app is awesome! It is easy to use and helpful for starting coaches. - Jessica V.
The app helped me out with being more prepared. It gave me more confidence having a drawn-out plan for what I was going to set up at practice each week - Shannon C.
Great tool for practices and drills. I liked having the practice plans ready for me. Having the app made them very accessible. Chris P.
The practice plans were handy to help with player progression. - Evan S.
Convenient to have all resources in one place. Robert T.
Was great to be able to access resources from an app where everything was available in one spot vs. sorting through multiple links on the internet - Rob F.
Want to learn how you can get your volunteer coaches on the app? Click the button below!