Yardstikâ€™s Playbook for Safer Youth Sports â€” Part 3: Taking Action
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Written by Mallory Adamson from Yardstik, TeamSnapâ€™s new partner for background checks
So, you’ve made it this far in this playbook series (please check out part 1 and part 2 here, if you haven’t already). Hopefully, you’ve taken a hard look at your organization’s safety practices and come to one of two conclusions:
- Everything is great. We’re doing everything right, and I’m 100% confident in our safety practices.
- Ummâ€¦yeah, not that. I think we have some room for improvement.
Congrats if you’re in that first group. Keep doing what you’re doing if it’s working for you.
But most organizations fall into that second camp. And that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be this massive, daunting overhaul, and you can absolutely make positive changes.
Incremental steps are critical.Â
Start by making an actionable plan that you can execute. Then, take small steps initially and plan to iterate and evolve your programs over time. Even seemingly minor improvements to your safety processes can make a significant difference.
Set clear targets.Â
Whether you’ve never run screens or have been screening for years, there is no need to fearâ€”it can be simpler than you think. Your safety partner should be able to clearly outline some next steps to help you start running screens in a matter of days with minimal lift.
Timelines, budgets, and deliverables will help everyone visualize the successful implementation of your proposal and can help to enforce accountability for everyone. Be aggressive but realistic in your expectation setting.
Maintain a collaborative mindset.
With that in mind, don’t try to do this in a vacuum.Â
Identify the key stakeholders. Who will be most influential in affecting change, and who needs to be involved in executing this vision successfully? Gain organizational buy-in early to avoid any potential roadblocks down the road.
Communicate early and often.
Once you have a plan and your organization’s commitment, communicating this new direction internally and externally can be impactful.Â
Bringing the community most affected by these changes, parents of youth athletes, into the conversation with transparent communication and progress reports will keep your organization accountable for realizing your vision.Â
Emphasizing your commitment to safety as an essential element of your youth sports organization can also have long-lasting effects on how your organization makes decisions and how the community perceives you.
Don’t get overwhelmed.Â
You shouldn’t expect to be going at this alone.Â
Choosing the right partnerâ€”one that can provide you with the right technical solutions, guidance, and support your organization needs for sustainable successâ€”can be the difference between a successful implementation and one that falls short.
Wrapping things up.
To summarize, minimizing risks for youth athletes is critical for any youth or high school sports organization. Unfortunately, the trend of abuse in youth sports is a tragic reality we all must face. The good news is that more tools are available today than ever before to proactively tackle abuse prevention, concussion protocol, and emergency response.Â
Aligning with the right partner allows you to unlock those tools and takes some of the burdens off you and your team. Still, individuals within your organization need to take the initiative to act now rather than react later.
I’ll leave you with some key takeaways:
- Get current on the trends and the possibilities outside of your bubble. Drive change together and accept personal accountability.
- Be honest in your self-assessment and identify your most significant risks and gaps.
- Make an actionable plan, iteratively, towards your ultimate defined goal. Don’t work in a vacuum. Gain buy-in, and broadcast your new commitment to safety to everyone who these changes will impact.
Want to have a conversation about taking steps to make your youth sports organization safer?Â
Please connect with me if you’re ready to start putting together your action plan (or if you’re not quite there yet). I’ve helped several youth sports organizations put plans into action and might be able to help. Reach out through the form on this page, and let’s chat!