Toughest of Youth Coaching Decisions – Missed Practices

Not all youth coaching decisions have the same impact on teams. Bad youth coaching decisions actually ruin team’s seasons.

Of all the youth coaching decisions, this one is one of the toughest. Youth coaches are in tough situations, when players miss practices. They often alienate the parents of the player, who misses, or the parents of the parents whose kid gets less playing time then the player who misses practice. Coaches are in the middle, when kids miss practices, unless they do the following. 

The first piece of coaching advice is that coaches discuss this situation with parents before the season begins. Making this decision after the season begins usually leads to the “If we would have known, we wouldn’t have tried out in the first place,” parental defense, leading to unhappy players and parents. Additionally, changing the rules during the season is always a recipe for trouble, too. The key is that parents and coaches discuss the goals of the level of play to determine the amount of player participation that is expected.
Coaches, who set the policy when forming the team and before tryouts, give parents no excuses later. It is always a good idea to having team policies, as this one, in writing at the beginning of the year, so there is no misunderstandings and so parents know the policy before their child even tries out for teams.

Of course, coaches must decide if this is a blanket policy, or if exceptions come to players, who miss because of illness or injury, which is another tough coaching call. Ultimately, the key to happiness of all is that youth coaches set their policy early, have it in writing, and present that to parents before kids’ tryout for teams.

As implied, coaches must be reasonable when setting their policy, based on the goals of the level played and age of the players.

Finally, parents should be careful of the over activity syndrome of involving kids in so many activities that scheduling conflicts often result. Too many activities often leaves everyone involved with frazzled nerves, not just the child.

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