How to Run a Youth Sports Background Check (2024)

Tim Gusweiler
a youth soccer coach preparing with his players for a game
a youth soccer coach preparing with his players for a game
Youth sports organizations are an important part of local communities. They allow for children to learn the importance of teamwork, provide leadership opportunities, and strengthen relationships between kids, coaches, families, and businesses.
They can, however, be a target for potential predators.
Your team’s safety and well-being are non-negotiable. Constantly worrying about the safety of your team around other coaches or volunteers will detract from the positives for both parents and children. That’s why background checks are essential. These checks make sure that any individual involved with your team is vetted before they can work with children.
This post will run through all the details on youth sports background checks to ensure your league’s safety and peace of mind every year.
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How to run a youth sports background check

Running youth sports background checks should occur before coaches or volunteers interact with players. 
There are a few things you should do before getting started:
  1. Determine who should be required to get a background check. Most organizations require a background check for every volunteer or coach.
  2. Figure how often to run background checks. Typically, organizations require a background check once per year for every volunteer.
  3. Find a background check service. There are online platforms that let you run background checks and view results, entirely online.
  4. Decide who will pay for the background check. Many organizations cover the cost of background checks out of their budget, but you can also require that volunteers cover the cost.
  5. Know what to do if someone fails the background check.  Do you want to allow them to volunteer if they have a criminal record or misdemeanor? Discussing scenarios with your board before your season would be best.
After determining the requirements for a background check, you need to collect each volunteer's name and email address. 
a youth sports background check invitation in Jersey Watch
Inviting candidates to complete their checks within an online system is typically a quick process. 
Volunteers will receive an email invitation with instructions and can complete their check online within a few minutes. Once candidates submit their information, the results of their background checks will be available to your organization within 24 hours.
⚡TAKE ACTION: Run a background check for your youth sports team with Jersey Watch today. Create a free account to get started.

How background check services work for youth sports programs

Whether this is your first year with a youth sports program or your 10th year coaching a youth team, background checks must be done yearly. It helps weed out anyone that can potentially pose a danger to children.
If your organization does not currently run background checks, start by creating a background check policy. A background check policy can set consistent expectations with your board, coaches, volunteers, and parents on the timing requirements, level of detail, and enforcement of background checks at your organization.
Requiring annual background checks is beginning to become standard across all sports and age groups. Parents are beginning to expect organizations to run background checks on adults who interact with their children throughout the season.
Running a background check once yearly gives you up-to-date results for each volunteer and can help catch any red flags from the previous 12 months.
Most youth sports background checks run a local check on each volunteer. If the volunteer will be driving young athletes to events, a driving record is often required for each volunteer. 
Depending on the type of background check your organization runs, expect a variety of information about the volunteer, including:
  • Identity confirmation
  • Felony convictions
  • History as a sex offender
  • History of child abuse
  • Domestic violence history
  • Serious driving infractions, such as DUI or Reckless Driving
  • Sex offender registry
  • Invalid Social Security Number
  • Local and national criminal history
It's important to remember that your organization should run background checks regularly on coaches and volunteers. Even if a coach passed a background check before a previous season, they should still be required to complete a new background check before each new season.

Youth sports background checks price

Basic background checks include identity verification, sex offender check, and national criminal search and can cost as low as $10 per volunteer. These checks are most commonly run on youth sports volunteers before each season. More detailed background checks that include driving records can cost $50 or more.
The pricing of state and local county searches can vary significantly. Some states charge premiums of up to $50 or more to view details of the individual's driving record and local criminal background check.
You should consider these more detailed background checks if your volunteers will be driving players. You can learn more about your state and county's pricing by searching "{INSERT YOUR STATE} background check fees'' or visiting Checkr's guide to state and local fees.

Online background screening solutions 

Before sports team management software, background checks were tedious, expensive, and required manual verification. Sports organizations often had to work with the local police department to run screens on each volunteer.
However, technology has made possible various background screening services that provide fast and accurate data, empowering you to make more informed decisions and keep players safe.
Plan to run your background check process completely online. Volunteers and coaches should be able to fill out an online form to complete the background check, and results can be available to your organization online within a few days.
youth sports background checks results in Jersey Watch
Online background check software like Yardstik regularly monitor legal trends and guidance to ensure your process is fair and consistent.
Other online background check providers like Goodhire and the National Center for Safety Initiatives allow you to process background checks quickly and access results online.

Essential documents for background screening

It’s exciting to have parents and other community members who want to volunteer and join your organization.
However, before they can join, there are essential documents that you should lay out to ensure potential candidates understand the criteria for becoming a volunteer. Make sure that you review these documents periodically and prevent unnecessary issues during your season.

Background check policy and volunteer code of conduct

Having a written background check policy, volunteer code of conduct, and waiver form is essential to the success of a youth sports organization. It can help remove any hiccups or misunderstandings between members.
Ensure your policy states that all members involved with the players need to go through the same screening process. Even if members of your organization know each other, they will have to go through the same screening process as new applicants. This demonstrates a solid and transparent commitment to the safety of your players and others involved.

Volunteer position descriptions

Provide a job description of the roles and duties you expect of a volunteer. Precise clarification of responsibilities helps potential candidates:
  • Know what their responsibilities will be during the season
  • Understand when the season starts and ends
  • Get a feel for how many hours will be expected of them
  • Clarify who they'll report to (coaching director, board member, head coach, etc.)
  • Get a head start on any required coaching certifications
List your background check policy, code of conduct, and volunteer position descriptions on your website so that they are easy for potential volunteers and community members to access.

Volunteer application

Any person that’s volunteering for a position must complete an application form before the season. A simple application can be completed online by the volunteer and listed alongside your player registration form.
The volunteer application can include basic information like relevant coaching qualifications, areas of interest at your organization, and past volunteer experience.
Within the application, collect the volunteer's email address so they can be invited to complete their background check.

Running background checks with Jersey Watch

Requiring that coaches and volunteers complete a background check is essential in enabling a safe environment for your sports organization. Managing background checks across your entire organization requires a few steps but can be simple and inexpensive.
Jersey Watch can help lighten the load, and you can be up and running in less than 24 hours without long wait times and paperwork. Background checks start at just $10 per volunteer and include SSN Validation and National Criminal Search. For an additional fee, you can get a more comprehensive background check on an individual, including their driving record and current county search.
Volunteers can complete their screening in just a few minutes online, and you access the results directly in your online account. Results are typically available less than 24 hours after the background check.

Youth sports background checks FAQ

What is an NCSI background check?

NCSI stands for the National Center of Safety Initiatives. NCSI supports youth organizations with background check services and other safety measures, including social media screens and motor vehicle registry checks.

How do I run a background check?

To run a background check, find a background check provider. Most youth sports organizations use an online service to run background checks. Once you have a background check provider, you can invite candidates via email to get their permission to run a volunteer background check. Usually, background checks will cost between $10 and $50 per person.

What are the benefits of a background check?

Background checks help identify harmful volunteers and can contribute to providing a safe environment for players at your organization. Requiring background checks can also build trust with parents and community members.
In some states, background checks are required for non-profit organizations. Background checks can help your organization comply with league or governing body regulations.
Whether you’re starting a new youth sports league or managing a long-standing league, you should run thorough background checks on volunteers before each season.

What does a background check for coaching entail?

Background checks can be customized based on the needs of your organization. Most background checks include some combination of the following:
  • Criminal history check
  • SSN verification
  • Sex offender registry
  • Driving records check
  • Employment verification
  • Social media check
Jersey Watch is the Fastest Way to Manage Your Sports Organization