Social Media Use in Youth Sports

2012-10-30T15:47:25+00:00 October 30th, 2012|Coaching, Health & Safety, Sports Management|

Social networking sites like Facebook have undoubtedly changed the way we interact with each other. Some say that social media is a great way for a coach to keep in touch with their team—no need for a phone tree, just send a Facebook message; post the season’s game schedule to a team Facebook page and no one can lose it. Practice cancellations, game time changes, last minute updates—all of it can be instantly shared via social media, keeping everyone in the loop. But social media isn’t the end all, be all problem-solver for a coach’s communication needs. There are some very serious concerns a coach needs to consider if they want to use social networking sites to stay connected with their team.

1. Should coaches “friend” their players on Facebook?

Some coaches want to use Facebook as a way to monitor their players’ behaviors. Most high school teams have a Code of Conduct that players are expected to follow and some coaches want to see anything their athletes post to Facebook (photos, videos, public messages, etc) that might be in violation of that Code of Conduct. Other says this is crossing the line and coaches have no right to monitor a player’s Facebook page.

Still others wonder how appropriate it is for a coach to be friending their young players, regardless of their intentions. With concerns of sexual abuse in youth sports gaining a national spotlight after the Sandusky trial, many are concerned with the access to youth athletes that social networking sites like Facebook could give a sexual predator.Social Media Use in Youth Sports

Are you a youth sports coach that has decided to become friends with their team on Facebook? Or are you a coach that won’t friend your players? What are your reasons either way?

2. Should coaches use their personal accounts to manage their team communication?

Just about everyone has a personal Facebook page and the majority of people on your team (parents and athletes included) have an email account. But should you, as the coach, use your personal accounts to manage team communication? While it might be easier since everything is already in place, some recommend that it’s important to separate your personal social networking life and coaching life as much as possible, so it might be worth creating one more email account (like CoachJohn@gmail.com) that you use to manage communications between you and your team. SportsSignup has a great tool included as a feature in their system called TeamWall.  TeamWall allows coaches to easily communiate with their team all through the system privately. Thereforce you are not mixing personal with coaching.  

3. What kind of social networking expectations do you have from your team?

If you plan on using social media in some form or another this season to communicate with your team it’s important to outline your expectations from day one. Outline what kind of posts/updates will not be permitted on the team page (offensive, bullying, etc) and what the repercussions are for those actions. Make it clear that the same rules apply to the parents as the youth athletes. And remember that they apply to you too! This high school soccer coach was fired for an inappropriate Facebook update. He may not have meant any harm, but his comments crossed a line and everyone saw it. Remember, what you post on a social media site isn’t 100% private—you never know who can see what you say, so watch your words.  To avoid unsolicited comments or “stalkers” checkout SportsSignup’s TeamWall feature.  That’s completely private communication between the coach and his team!