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Three Ways for Parents to Avoid Politics in Youth Sports

  
  
  
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For better or worse youth sports, especially as the competition level grows, can be full of drama. Parents team up against coaches, coaches penalize players for the action of their parents, league administrators pick teams made of their friends, parents get into it with each other, and more. Too much drama can suck the fun right out of a season, and keeping your hands out of the fray might be the best way to ensure your child doesn't get caught in the cross-fire of youth sports drama.

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The Drama of Tryouts

  
  
  
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As youth athletes get older, say around 10 or 11 (although it could be much sooner depending on the sport), the chance to get involved on more elite teams comes around. These high-powered travel teams may play year round, travel each weekend to away tournaments, and compete against some of the best squads in the country. They have access to better coaches, one-on-one training sessions, and other "perks" that can put a child heads and shoulders above their friends that may only play sports casually. Many parents believe that getting on these teams are the first step in building a life-long athletic career for their child and will move heaven and earth to make it happen.  But, in order to get onto these high-powered teams youth athletes have to make it through tryouts. And that's where things can get messy, especially when parents get involved.

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When One Team is Dominating the League

  
  
  
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Most youth sports leagues are organized by age; U-8, U-10, U-12, etc. Some have argued that it's actually better to organize leagues by size (so you don't have a 10 year old boy who weighs 70 pounds and a 10 year old boy who weighs 85 playing tackle football against each other), or by talent skill so that players who have been playing for years are competing against similarly talented players, while those new to the game get the playing time and coaching they need to develop their skills. Hopefully most leagues focus on randomly assigning players to keep the talent pool spread out across all the teams equally (and when a league doesn't it's very obvious very quickly), but not every league takes that approach.

Playing a High-Pressure Position in Youth Sports

  
  
  
Playing a High-Pressure Position in Youth Sports

Even in team sports where all the positions rely on each other to win, there is oftentimes a more high-pressure position; the pitcher, the quarterback, the goalie, for instance. As a pitcher or quarterback, a huge portion of the game rests on your shoulders. After all, it doesn't matter how great your receivers are if your quarterback can't throw decent passes, right? And if a pitcher just keeps walking batters it doesn't matter if they have the best shortstop in the league. Although soccer goalie might not be moving around as much as a mid-fielder, when it's their turn to make a play if they screw up the end result is a goal for the other team. In a typically low scoring game like hockey or soccer, even missing one or two shots can result in a loss.

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Are There Any Benefits to Early Specialization in Youth Sports?

  
  
  

Some parents/coaches believe that early specialization is the best (if not only) way to ensure that their child turns their love of sports into a college scholarship or even a career. Others argue that early specialization is actually ruining youth sports because it pushes young players too hard, too fast, and too soon. Which side of the argument are you on?

5 Things That Can Ruin a Youth Sports Season

  
  
  
5 Things That Can Ruin a Youth Sports Season

No matter how much we may try to have a "perfect" sports season, things can and will go wrong. Kids might get hurt or bored or burn out. Parents might be too busy to make it to every game. Coaches get frustrated or aggressive. It's bound to happen to everyone sooner or later. And while most players, parents, and coaches can bounce back from one bad game or practice, there are a few things that can ruin a youth sports season for good.

Keeping Your Athlete Positive When They're On the Bench

  
  
  
Keeping Your Athlete Positive When They're On the Bench

No youth athlete wants to be known as the team benchwarmer, but even with the best intentions some coaches have a hard time ensuring every player gets equal playing time. It's important that during the first few years of their athletic career, coaches do everything they can to keep kids engaged and interested, so benchwarming needs to be kept to a minimum. If they hardly ever set foot on the field it's hard to build any real passion. But as players move through their athletic career, especially if they join a more competitive league or travel team, coaches start to care a little less about equal playing time and more about getting the best combination of players on the field. As Dr. Alan Goldberg pointed out,

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What Do Individual Sports Have to Offer Youth Athletes?

  
  
  
What Do Individual Sports Have to Offer Youth Athletes?

Team sports like soccer and baseball and football usually get most of the attention when we talk about sports, be it at the youth level, college, or even professional (maybe with the exception of golf at the pro level.) And while many sports parents are quick to sign their sons and daughters up for team sports, not every child wants to be part of a big team. It doesn't mean they don't want to play sports, but perhaps they'd do better in a more individualized sport like gymnastics, swimming, or tennis.

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Managing a Multi-Athlete Home

  
  
  
Managing a Multi-Athlete Home

Being a sports parent is great, but it's also a major time (and sometimes financial) commitment. Being a sports parents 2 or 3 times over can be incredibly rewarding, but managing a multi-athlete home means managing more issues/conflicts.

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Is The Pressure to Perform Too Much for Youth Athletes?

  
  
  
Is The Pressure to Perform Too Much for Youth Athletes?

We've talked a lot about how 75% of kids quit playing youth sports by the time they are 13 and what we as parents and coaches can do to reverse that trend and keep kids involved in sports longer. Dave Holt made a fantastic point on our post about not forcing kids to play a particular sport (or any sport for that matter);

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