In youth sports, the problem of who gets playing time can sometimes rear its ugly head. All members of the team want to play the most; it’s only human nature. However, the way in which it is handled is very important. As participants in youth sports typically range in age from around 6 to 14, there are a number of ways that a disappointed parent or child can handle the situation.
One way is for the parent to tell the child to keep working hard and practicing. Perhaps the child isn’t playing because there are simply better players on the team. These things happen. An almost surefire way to ensure playing time is to work hard and get better, making it so the coach has no choice but to play the formerly benched athlete.
Another way is for the parent to speak with the coach about playing time during the week, in a calm manner. While it may be tempting to confront the coach in a towering rage before the game, this is not always the most effective method. Rather, the proper time is in the week before the game, when emotions won’t be running as highly as they would otherwise. Engaging the coach in a calm manner will also have a better chance of making an impact than yelling at him or her.
If these methods don’t work, perhaps it may be time to consult the rule book. Many youth sports leagues have a minimum amount of playing time that all team members are due, so it might be best to remind the coach that they aren’t fulfilling their obligation (assuming, of course, that they are not).
Additionally, talking to other parents may be the way to go. A unified front of disgruntled parents may be able to convince the coach where one failed, though it is still important to keep tempers in check.
Above all, it is important that a young athlete realize that their lack of playing time isn’t because of some failing they have made as a person, but is probably the result of more-skilled teammates being present. Reassurance by a parent would surely be welcome, as well as encouragement that hard work and practice are the way to more playing time.
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