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From Youth Sports to College: What’s the Difference?

Sports are a special part of life, from the development in youth sports to the opportunities that arise within collegiate athletics. But what are the biggest differences between each level of competition? As a private coach, you have the unique opportunity to choose what level of athlete you want to work with. Diversifying the range of athletes that you can work with, however, will better round out your ability to connect with each of your clients. Let’s explore the distinct differences between youth sports, high school sports, and college sports, so that you can expand your outreach and grow your coaching business in new ways.

What are the biggest differences between each level of sports?

Youth Sports

Youth sports are a great way for kids to learn the basics of a sport and to build their confidence. The primary focus of youth sports is having fun, learning the game, and developing good sportsmanship. Teams are comprised of a variety of skill levels and competition is usually not too intense. Practices are not as long or detail oriented as in higher levels of sports.

The rules of the game are often more relaxed in youth sports, so that kids can learn the fundamentals without the pressure of a high-stakes game. Team coaches at this level are often volunteers, and their primary focus is on teaching the basics of the sport, rather than on winning.

High School Sports

High school presents a more competitive level of sports. Teams are often split into junior varsity and varsity, and the competition is far more intense than youth sports. Practices are longer and more rigorous, as players have a greater capacity to learn. The rules of the game are stricter, coaches at this level are more experienced, and the primary focus is on winning the game.

Players at this level are expected to have a good understanding of the fundamentals of the game, and they are expected to put in the extra work necessary to reach a higher level of performance. High school sports provide a space for athletes to hone in on their craft and achieve opportunities to play at the next level. The mental side of the game is a major separator between high school athletes and those who stopped at the youth sports level.

College Sports

College sports are comprised of athletes who have dedicated their upbringing to their sport, and it is the apex of most athlete’s competition. Practices are designed to prepare athletes for the game that lies immediately ahead, and expectations are set for performance. Coaches at this level are professionals and their focus is on getting the most out of their team. Their job security is based on results.

Players at this level are expected to have a very high level of skill and knowledge of the game. They are expected to put in extra work beyond team practices and assume accountability for improving their performance. College sports are the final outlet for athletes to improve, as they will either continue on to professional competition or hang up their cleats after graduation.

Can you coach athletes at all levels at the same time?

By understanding the differences between each level of competition, private coaches can curate a variable philosophy that is tailored to the needs of each of their athletes. Coaching athletes from varietal levels of competition can be challenging without this understanding. However, considering this basic overview of each level will allow for your coaching philosophy to blend the lines between different age groups and skill levels, helping you to aid all of your athletes in achieving their goals and unlocking future opportunities.

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