U.S. Soccer Foundation Launches Coach Training to Help Improve the Youth Sports Experience

The U.S. Soccer Foundation launched Coach-Mentor Training™, a new suite of offerings for youth sports coaches to build their skills to serve as mentors and provide more positive experiences. Coach-Mentor Training is based on the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s 25 years of experience as a leader in sports-based youth development and uses its evidence-based approach to training coaches from its nationally recognized Soccer for Success program.

Coach-Mentor Training builds participants’ capacity to create lasting, positive connections with youth and teaches them how to strengthen the social and emotional skills of young people. The suite of offerings also teaches coaches how to work effectively with youth in and from underserved communities and create a positive team culture that reflects the diversity of the youth they serve. This is especially critical when coaches work with young people of varying racial, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Youth need adults to help guide them through many challenges both on and off the field,” said Sarah Pickens, Vice President of Programs for the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “This training is part of the solution to grow the number of coaches who lead with mentorship by giving them the tools and training to take a mentorship first approach and to embody that role every day with their youth.”

According to MENTOR, one in three young people do not have access to a mentor. By training more coaches as mentors, the Coach-Mentor Training will help more adults build positive relationships with young people both on and off the field. This is important as research suggests positive youth-adult relationships can have a positive impact on a young person’s mental health and personal development.

“I had a consistent coach for more than 13 years shortly after I began my soccer journey,” said Katlin Okamoto, PhD, USSF A-License Coach, and Director of Coach-Mentor Training for the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “This individual was influential on my path in both sport and beyond and remains a mentor and coaching colleague today. This is why I believe in the importance of coaches serving as mentors and why we created this opportunity for coaches to grow their ability to develop positive relationships with more youth.”

Coach-Mentor Training is offered both in-person and online. The in-person training is designed for groups of up to 40 coaches at a time. This highly engaging and interactive 2-hour training helps coaches understand the basics of mentoring and is especially helpful for those working with youth in and from underserved communities.

free, online Coach-Mentor Training module is also available thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Soccer Foundation and National University’s Inspire program, a research-based toolkit of teaching practices and on-demand modules to help educators, mentors, and coaches effectively motivate PreK-12 students to be enthusiastic, engaged learners. The program also includes a host of social emotional learning tools.

During the 1-hour online module, coaches will learn skills and strategies to help them plan for and develop positive connections with players throughout a season. The course brings together best practices in mentorship and social emotional learning with youth sports. Coach-Mentor Training is ideal for coaches of any sport and the training module can be completed at one time or in smaller increments to provide added convenience. The free, online module can be found on the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Resource Hub or the Inspire website.

“Powerful teachable moments don’t only happen in classes,” said National University President Dr. Mark D. Milliron. “That’s why we’re thrilled to partner with the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Coach-Mentor Training program through Inspire to provide professional development support and resources that further enable coaches and mentors to encourage young minds to develop a love for learning and inspire children to dream big and achieve their goals.”

To launch the Coach-Mentor Training, the U.S. Soccer Foundation will be at nationally recognized conferences that represent high-quality coach training and high-quality mentor development during National Mentoring Month, which occurs each January.

At the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, U.S. Soccer Foundation team members will be on site to help answer questions and meet with coaches and those who work with youth to learn about the new training. If you would like to connect at the convention, please reach out to [email protected] to schedule a meeting or visit the Musco booth in the exhibit hall.

At MENTOR’s National Mentoring Summit, Foundation facilitators will deliver an in-person Coach-Mentor Training session to Summit participants. The Coach-Mentor Training facilitator team will also be in attendance to learn from and network with mentoring professionals from across the country.

To take the free, online training, visit the Coach-Mentor Training Resource Hub.

For more information about Coach-Mentor Training, visit: www.ussoccerfoundation.org/cmt.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org or follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

National University, the second largest private nonprofit university in California behind USC, is a leader in social and emotional learning and is leading a national expansion of affiliate programs in the pre-K-12 sector. These programs include: Inspire: Leading In Learning, which offers research-based teaching methodologies and on-demand, self-guided modules that are accessible online and at no cost to help teachers create inspiring learning environments and encourage students to succeed, and Harmony SEL, a pre-K-6 research-based social and emotional learning program that cultivates strong peer relationships between all students. Harmony SEL has been recognized by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as a quality program. Learn more at NU.edu.