Every parent has youth sports concerns before signing a child up to play for a team. And rightly so. Don’t assume anything. It’s always better to ask too many questions than to not ask enough.
You will no doubt hear about a team or league’s reputation, but sometimes the gossip only muddies the waters and you really are not getting a clear picture of what lies ahead for you and your child.
Before your child signs up to play, be sure you’ve got answers to these youth sports concerns:
If it’s a travel team, get an estimate of transportation and hotel costs. If it’s a school team, ask about costs of team shoes, warm-ups, etc. For some of the teams my kids played on, they had to purchase a “package” which included warm-ups, shoes, practice shirts, etc.
Some teams do fundraising for this cost. Hopefully your child’s team does, but this is information you need to know. Sometimes hidden costs pop up during the season and catch parents by surprise.
Let’s look at lacrosse, for instance. I will use one league in Orange County, California as an example. This is the cost for a girl for one season:
- $35 for membership to US Lacrosse
- $5-$10 for a mouthguard
- $50-$150 for a lacrosse stick
- $30-$70 for a lacrosse eyemask
- $35-$100 for cleats/athletic shoes
Add to these, the costs of travel, and you get the idea.
If your coach or team mom is a good organizer, he or she will be ready with a list right away for volunteer sign-ups. Many teams that my kids played on asked parents to volunteer at the snack bar or run the clock at least twice a season. If you know the expectations in advance, you can make arrangements to participate. Volunteering should not be a guessing game.
Every coach should be trained in CPR, each team should have first aid equipment, and the league should have a policy on how to handle injuries during the game. These are musts.
At the risk of the coach thinking that you are interrogating him, you might want to find out how organized he is. Believe me, there is nothing more frustrating than a coach who does not communicate, who is unorganized, and who does not know how to stay on top of the administrative responsibilities.
If you sense that he might need some assistance in managing the details, this would be a good time for TeamSnap’s online management software to become part of the team family. Features like the Team Roster page will greatly assist either the team manager or the coach in his team oversight duties.
For instance, on the Team Roster page, you’ll find:
- Team contact information is easy to access, with clickable email links
- Each player with a photo for quick recognition
- Detailed player profiles
- “Custom fields” for things like “Jersey Size”, “Parent’s Name”, or anything else
Having a coach who is organized goes a long way to making the season more enjoyable. I’ve had experiences with coaches at opposite ends of the spectrum and there is no doubt that the most effective coaches were the ones who delegated and staffed to their weaknesses.
Ask the coach to clarify his philosophy on playing time, what he deems as most important in youth sports, and what are his goals for the season. It’s okay to put him on the spot; if he does not have an answer, he should come up with one!
All leagues differ in their philosophies. Some are very competitive; some are more about fun. Be sure you understand the personality of your child’s league before letting him play. It could make a difference in whether he plays for that league or looks for another.
What is the league’s and coach’s channel for resolving conflicts with parents? When my husband coached high school, the athletic administrator asked that parents approach the coach first with problems, and if that didn’t resolve the issue, to then go to the A.D.
When parents want to protest a coaching or officiating decision, it’s best to follow proper complaint protocol. It may be frustrating, but that is really the best way to resolve issues peacefully.
The Most Important Question of All
Before you ever get in the car and go to sign your child up to play, be sure you’ve asked yourself this very important question: Does he really want to play, or are you making him? If your child doesn’t want to play sports, save yourself the headache and the cost. Focus on finding something he does like to do and let him pursue that.
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