Eight Components of Youth Ministry


Advocacy: How can our team create a safe and supportive environment where appropriate adult supervision is in place and where adults allow the youth to play and have fun without inappropriate interference? How can we ensure drills and activities have as a key focus building the self-confidence of each youth and that youth receive adequate playing time and experience in games and in practices?

Catechesis: Sports has the potential to teach and reinforce virtue through real-life experiences. How can our team incorporate the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in practices or team-building service projects? How can our team reinforce how sportsmanship, humility, obedience, respect, reliance on others, care for others, and persistence tie into the sport as well as our faith?

Community Life: How can our team and families intentionally welcome newcomers, practice authentic hospitality to guests from other parishes, encourage service to and engage with the entire parish?

Evangelization: How can we help each youth to understand that how he or she plays can reflect not only that youth's values but those of our parish and the Church as a whole? Demonstrating virtue and sportsmanship allows us to live our faith--and allows others to see that faith in action.

Justice & Service: How do we teach about the importance of respect?  Helping teammates in trouble as well as demonstrating respect for opponents, officials, the rules of the game are just some of the areas we can have a very intentional conversation around. How can we serve outside of our team--perhaps a need within the parish community or beyond? A team service project may not only teach about our responsibility to serve but also build team unity and a sense of common purpose.

Leadership Development: Each youth has something to offer a team... a key role for any coach or adult leader is to draw that out of the youth. How can you encourage contributions from each youth? How can you give each a leadership role or rotate important roles? How can you build confidence and encourage the youth to take responsibility and lead?

Pastoral Care: A coach at the elementary and middle levels especially must appreciate the importance of the total development of each youth--not exclusively the physical or technical. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each youth will help the youth grow within the sport, but more important, as a young disciple of Christ. Helping a youth learn how to treat others in the heat of the moment provides the youth with skills to use beyond sports.

Prayer and Worship:  Coaches and adult leaders can have a profound and lasting impact on helping youth to become comfortable with prayer in their daily lives. That comfort only comes with practice. By opening and closing practice with prayer a coach can demonstrate that it is okay to pray outside of Mass and the home, that it is okay to thank God for the gift of the team, friends, and the ability to have fun, that prayer can take form beyond the Our Father or Hail Mary and that it is okay to ask youth to offer a special intention, or perhaps something related to the team itself. Perhaps your team's families might grow simply by attending Mass together or attend Adoration or Reconciliation together and a social afterward.


Coaching and Team Considerations and Activities

A coach's role is not to be a catechetical formation expert or a counselor; nevertheless, you, as a coach, can have a profound impact on a youth’s life by simply living your faith—in interactions both on and off the court or field.


  • When youth see their coach volunteering within the parish as a lector or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion or usher they see someone making tremendous additional sacrifices for the parish community.
  • As a coach you are in a unique position to encourage youth to become involved in the parish community. Simply encouraging youth to understand that the parish community will only be as strong as they help make it through their volunteerism and participation (e.g., altar servers) is critical. Asking a team parent to organize a team parish service activity or alert families to certain parish events are other great opportunities to get families involved.
  • When gathering your team to pray before and after practice, the coach sets a certain tone and shows players that it is indeed okay to openly pray—that prayer is not exclusively to be done in the privacy of one’s heart or home.
  • Making prayers relevant to an event of the day, or the practice or a player’s or team’s situation can be very powerful in helping the players understand that the coach is comfortable “going off script” in his or her prayer life. A coach can also ask players to share an intention—to help make that conversation with the Lord as personally meaningful and participatory as possible. Helping youth appreciate that prayer can be individualized can lead them to a deeper prayer life. Here's an example of what one parish has done.
  • Scheduling a team Mass (or parish-wide CYO Mass); or team evening of Sacrament of Reconciliation followed by a team & family dinner at a restaurant or at the parish hall.
  • Inviting priests or religious to attend a team dinner, a team Mass, or a game/event—or if they have the interest or technical skills to do so, to run a station during practice or if they have the time to be an assistant coach (honorary or otherwise).
  • Challenging your athletes to find a connection between something happening in their lives or something that happens on the court (helping someone up who has fallen, dealing with poor sportsmanship or unruly parent behavior) to a lesson from Jesus’ life or some biblical reference.
  • Working with your Director of Religious Education (DRE) & your Director of Youth Ministry (DYM) on various activities your team might be able to do together—or merely give the DRE or DYM a few minutes sometime during the season (before or after practice) to talk to your team about various upcoming parish activities.