June 2021 - 18

Examining the challenges and opportunities for
high school coaches nationwide
By Wesley Sykes, Managing Editor
Referee shortages, the safety of players, staff, and
personnel, and social media issues are just a few of
the hot-button issues highlighted in our fourth annual
Coaches Report.
Back in 2018, Coach & Athletic Director began
surveying high school coaches to gather feedback on some
of the major issues in the profession across the country.
The results help us better understand the challenges faced
by coaches, and they guide us in providing relevant content
to confront those issues head-on.
The 2021 Coaches Report examined the ripple effects
of COVID-19, the prevalence of athletic trainers in high
school sports, whether to allow home-schooled students to
compete in public school athletics. We also asked coaches
what they learned most about their team or profession in
the last year and to what extent COVID-19 has affected the
financial bottom line for coaches.
As part of our annual study, we also asked coaches to
rank what they believe are the most significant challenges
facing them today. And for the fourth-straight year, coaches
polled believe sports specialization among student-athletes
brought them the most concern, garnering 87% of the
response. Two new options to the question, player health
and safety, and the health and safety of staff - two COVIDrelated
topics - entered the poll as the second (85%) and
fourth-most (79%) concerning issue, respectively.
Here are five takeaways from the 2021 Coach & Athletic
Director Coaches Survey.
COVID CONCERNS
There's no denying the effect the COVID-19 pandemic
has had - and, in some cases, continues to have - on
athletics across the country in the last year-plus. In such
an unusual year, we asked coaches some COVID-related
questions to ascertain how the profession has been
affected and reacted to the pandemic.
As you might expect, 94% of respondents said they
were at least somewhat affected by the pandemic, with
58% saying their sport was " drastically affected " by the
pandemic. More than losing out on the games, practices,
championship memories, and agonies of anguish, teams'
financial standings were also hit hard by COVID. A little
more than half of the respondents (52%) noted that their
athletic spending budget had been delayed to some point
or another. Some had shared their budget had been
delayed by as little as six to nine months with others
sharing as much as a two-year delay in spending. Most,
however, detailed at least a year of suspended spending
with an unknown date of return.
Despite the hold on funds and pause of sports,
coaches were able to reflect on their profession. We
18 JUNE 2021
asked them to share what they learned most about their
profession in the last year. Below is a sampling of those
anonymous responses.
" The time together has been enjoyable and the time
away made me more empathetic, " one coach said, with
another adding, " we are resilient. "
" I learned that clear communication is essential, " one
coach shared.
" Athletes can and will work on their own if you
communicate well with them, provide detailed workouts
and rationales for those workouts, and let them know
you believe in them and appreciate their efforts, " another
coach added.
" That athletics is the only place providing stability for
many, many kids. School is trying, but it has been very hard
for them. Athletics offers them a little more, so the contact
and connection are better this year, " one coach said.
" Being flexible and adaptable is a real skill. Working
with so many coaches with varying degrees of flexibility
has been a challenge. I've had to find new and better ways
to communicate instead of relying on seeing or meeting
with people, " another finally wrote.

June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of June 2021

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