Answers to common questions by sports parents

September 18, 2011 

At this point in the season, some parents usually start questioning the tactics of their children's youth sports coaches. Most likely, there have been more than a couple practices and maybe even a game or two, and the parents who were polite enough to not say anything early on are really biting their lips now.

Here are some of the more common questions, with what I hope you will find are some helpful answers that might avoid a coach-parent confrontation:

Q: Why does the coach treat his or her child differently?

A: The first thing to analyze is whether or not the coach really is playing favorites with his or her child, or is your vision distorted because you know it is his or her offspring? Remember, the coach's child should get a turn to go first and lead the stretching drills like everyone else. It just shouldn't be all the time.

Q: Why is the coach not playing my child in his normal position?

A: Despite what parents think, youth sports players don't have normal positions yet. In fact, ask most high school players in any sport and the position they play when they receive a varsity letter is most likely not where they played in the youth league where they started. Just because your child was a goalie the past two years does not mean he or she will be goalie again ... maybe ever.

Coaches typically put players in positions where they can be successful, which ultimately helps the team. Although your child might be the best forward on the team, he or she might also be able to play goalie, a position that might be dangerous for a less-skilled athlete to play.

Q: Why does the coach not play to win?

A: This is youth sports, where winning might be the outcome but should not be the reason as to why the game is played a certain way. In recreational sports leagues, all players should play and -- whenever possible -- have equal playing time. Players also will most likely rotate positions, even if that means the best player on the team isn't playing shortstop.

Coaches should emphasize getting better with each practice and game, and implement tactics to allow that to happen. A high school coach recently told me that, win or lose, his job is to get his team "to play to their abilities." And it's no different at the youth level.

Although you might have some questions for the coach at this point in the season, before asking them, see if you can figure out the answers yourself.

Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous websites. Email your comments to and follow him at

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