Dealing With Playing Time In Youth Sports

Coach Buzz Battaglia - Press Box, Baltimore Sports - August 16, 2007

Playing time and position are the two biggest problems coaches and parents deal with, from the recreation level through high school.

All parents want their children to play as much as possible. Coaches need to start the season with a discussion of playing time with parents and players. Every league, regardless of the sport, has minimum playing time rules. They vary from sport to sport and sometimes differ by age group. Whatever the requirement is, a good coach will try to expand playing time for all players, not just the stars.

One way to guarantee a fair amount of playing time for all is by using the "platoon method."

Send kids in groups and make things easier on the kids and the coaches. If you take a group of kids and give them certain plays to work on in practice, when you substitute that group into a game, you are going to be surprised at how well they execute. You won’t be so stressed about substituting.

If there is a glitch and a kid doesn’t get playing time, address it immediately after the game. Tell the child and the parents you will make it up to them at the next game and stick to it.

Parents need to know the playing time rules. With most leagues having different levels of competition within the same age group, it is easier for programs to field multiple teams in the same age group. That has dramatically reduced the amount of complaints.

Remember parents, there is nothing wrong with moving your child down to a less competitive league. Kids are happier with more playing time.

The bottom line is they want to play; the competition level doesn’t matter in recreation sports.

When it comes to deciding positions, especially for younger children, most coaches know where a player is best suited to play. When dealing with younger kids, it is important to expose them to as many positions as possible.