The Impact of Coaches as Mentors on Youth

The Impact of Coaches as Mentors on Youth

Part 2 of the 4 part Intro to the MMM program

Sports, whether individual or team-based, have been in male subcultures since the dawn of time. With the emergence of new sports and the growing popularity of live sports events worldwide, more people are enjoying sports. Yet, we sometimes don’t acknowledge the potential benefits of playing a sport at any level, especially in a structured format. These benefits stem from sports’ innate ability to blend mentoring, physical activity, and enjoyment uniquely. This portion of the article will focus on the beneficial effects of coaching and mentorship.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” — John Crosby

Defining Coaches as Mentors

So in structured formats of a sport, you have a coach who is supposed to act as a guide and mentor to lead you in different endeavors in the sport. These interactions with your coach focus on improvement in the realm of the sport. Still, coaching is beyond the physical it includes the social and psychological as issues in those areas affect performance. This is how relationships grow between coach and athlete, which is why they are considered informal (naturally occurring) mentors (Bruce and Bridgeland, 2014). Coaches need to understand their role as mentors and how mentees speak highly of their mentor-mentee relationship in all facets, with polls showing that 90% of informal relationships are positive (Bruce and Bridgeland, 2014).

“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.” ~ Pete Carroll

Why Mentors are Influential for Youth

Looking at the brain development of children and adolescents reveals why mentors are so influential. This is because in youth, the amygdala, which is the area of the brain responsible for emotional reactions, is fully developed, but the area of the brain that controls reasoning and emotional regulation, the prefrontal cortex, is not fully developed. This is why children and adolescents are more likely to act impulsively, misinterpret social cues, have accidents, get into fights, and engage in risky behaviour depending on their brain development stage (AACAP, 2016). The statistics on mentorship reflect this as 59% of mentored teenagers earn better grades, mentored youth are 27% less likely to experiment with alcohol and 46% less likely to use illegal drugs (The Value In Mentoring Our Youth, 2015). In studies, we have also seen that mentored youths are more likely to attend college, have better attitudes toward learning, and are more emotionally and socially developed; this leads to more positive relationships and better communication and trust with parents (Herrera et al., 2013) (Bruce and Bridgeland, 2014). Mentoring high-risk youth positively affected delinquency reduction, academic functioning, aggression reduction, and drug use reduction. These factors decrease depressive symptoms across all demographic groups and have been highly beneficial in helping individuals’ mindfulness (Herrera et al., 2013) (Bruce and Bridgeland, 2014).

The Power of Coaches

As we have started to see the benefits of sports as an activity and the importance of sports coaching a question of “why is there still a crisis in our youth, clearly sports can not be this beneficial?” Well the reason has a lot of variance especially when looking at the macro prospective of the collective of all athletes. The aim is to focus on steps to take to help improve particular behaviour that result in positive mental health outcomes. To do this sports need optimization in order to extract the best aspects of sports coaching and sports as an activity in order to get the desired change we want to see because it going to be us working as a community and team at a micro level until we start to see the change we desire


AACAP. (2016). Teen Brain: Behavior, Problem Solving, and Decision Making. Families And Youth- Facts For Families95. Retrieved 28 November 2021, from.

Bruce, M., & Bridgeland, J. (2014). The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. Retrieved 28 November 2021, from.

Herrera, C., DuBois, D., & Grossman, J. (2013). Mentoring Experiences and Outcomes for Youth with Varying Risk Profiles. The Role Of Risk. Retrieved 27 November 2021, from.

The Value In Mentoring Our Youth. Social Work License Map. (2015). Retrieved 27 November 2021, from

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