Coaches should play it safe when weather is iffy

info@islandpacket.comOctober 2, 2011 

It doesn't take long before Mother Nature can turn the beautiful fall weather into youth sports' worst enemy.

Yes, the leaves are beautiful, but as they turn color and fall from the trees, the temperature can drop right along with them. What two weeks ago might have been a warm drizzle to play through is now cold- and flu-type weather that not even kids want to play in.

Now is the time to start thinking about how your team will handle adverse weather.

As far as practices go, I've said it before and I'll say it again: If it's the type of weather where I'll have more parents complain if we do have practice than if we don't, I usually cancel practice.

At this point in the season, most practices are spent fixing things from the previous game. The kids are already in shape, so missing one night of practice isn't going to hinder them. With that in mind, if you can, don't be afraid to hold an indoor practice going over the positives and negatives from the previous game. Sort of like a "chalk talk" session that high school and college coaches conduct.

Game decisions are usually left up to the league administrators, but I do know of some leagues where the decision to play or not is left up to the two head coaches. Often, the decision whether or not to play a game in iffy weather depends on how difficult it will be to reschedule a postponement. However, that shouldn't play into the decision, because the bottom line is that it's either safe enough to play or it's not.

The air temperature this time of year rarely is cold enough to warrant canceling an outdoor event, but a cooler night combined with wet conditions certainly is.

The condition of the field or playing surface is the other thing to consider. If poor weather makes for an unsafe surface, for safety reasons, the game should probably be postponed. That being said, fields can be damp and safe, and just because the pace of play might be affected doesn't mean the game should automatically be canceled.

In iffy weather conditions, there's no easy answer as to when to cancel and when to play. If there was, we wouldn't refer to them as "iffy."

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

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