What should your athlete do when his youth sports teams conflict?
As your young athlete grows more passionate about his sport, there may come a time when he wants to play on two teams at once or in two sports that slightly overlap.
And when that happens, conflicts will arise. Choices will have to be made. As you and he make those choices, keep these guidelines in mind.
Be honest with the coach
I know your child may want to keep quiet about playing for another team because he’s afraid the coach will not be enthusiastic about the idea and could even “punish” him for it, but better to be upfront with the coach than have him find out on his own.
You may not think that it’s any of his business, and maybe it’s really not. But I’m just telling you that sometimes honesty is the best policy. Your child will not be in fear of his coach finding out and it will help the coach understand your child’s situation.
Expect fair treatment
By fair, I mean that your child should not be given special privileges because he plays for two teams. If he misses practices or games because he’s playing on another team, then he should be treated the same as an athlete who missed for other reasons.
Just because he’s playing another sport doesn’t mean he should be let off the hook. If his playing time suffers or there are other consequences that come as a result of his other team commitments, then he should accept that as fair.
Choose a focus
I really don’t advocate that young kids play two sports at once, but if you let them or even when they get older and you let them, it’s probably a good idea to pick one sport to focus on and let the second one take second place.
Which is better? Two sports played at a 75% effort? Or two sports played, one at 100% and one at 50%?
Focusing on one as the priority will guide your decision-making and the coach will understand what he can expect from your child.
School sports first
This one is just my opinion, and the opinion of my husband who has coached football for 28 years and softball for 10. We told our kids that the school team they committed to was the priority. Club teams came second.
Because most kids are way more involved at school than they are in a traveling team. They go to school with their teammates, they have an entire student body behind them. It’s the school-spirit thing to do. They represent a school and the school counts on them to participate. Club teams are basically just for extra development and show.
When teams overlap
This was always a frustration in our house. We had two kids who played back-to-back sports in junior high and high school and often their seasons would overlap by a few weeks because of play-offs or because the coach for the upcoming season started early with practice and conditioning.
Unfortunately, the upcoming coaches were not always understanding, and we even had some who “punished” kids for coming in later because their team from the previous season went into playoffs. They claimed it was because the athlete was behind the kids who had already been practicing, even our kids had played the upcoming sports many times before.
Whether or not that was true or whether the coaches were playing favorites, I guess I’ll never know. But my suggestion to you if your kid ever faces that? Be sure he’s staying in shape and up to par on his skills for the upcoming season so that does not become a factor.
For instance, my son played high school football and for three of his years, the varsity football team made it to the playoffs. Meanwhile the basketball team had been conditioning all fall and had started official practices before football ended. My son strived to stay in condition and tried to practice basketball on the side to get ready for the next season. In theory this was a good idea, but because of his basketball coach’s pigheadedness, it didn’t really help his case much. He just had to fight through it.
If in doubt, give it up
If playing two sports at once or the conflict with overlapping becomes too stressful for your child, then maybe it’s time to give one of them up. Honestly, there are more important things in life than your kid being the jock or jockette of the school.
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