At about the midpoint of each youth sports season, I try to take a step back and grade myself, both as a coach and parent.
There are a few questions I ask myself that I would encourage everyone to do this week as we hover at the halfway point (or maybe a bit beyond) of the fall season.
Forget about your team's win-loss record, because there's nothing you can do about the games that are over, and none of the questions I'm going to pose should be answered based on it.
Let's start with the coaches.
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Are you giving all of your players the chance to try different positions? Just because you have a great goalie, doesn't mean someone who wants to try the position shouldn't have an opportunity.
Is everyone getting close to equal playing time? Kids register for youth sports to play, and so unless you are coaching in an ultra-competitive league that tells kids before they enroll that only the best will play, everyone should be getting close to equal time on the field.
Are your kids developing friendships? While you can't control whether or not your players are becoming best friends off the field, you can and should certainly encourage all of them to be more than just teammates on the field. If at this point you still don't feel the kids are getting along well, try having an off-the-field activity one night instead of practice, and be sure to invite the parents to it. You'll be amazed how quickly everyone gets to know one another if they don't have to worry about playing or cheering.
And now some questions for parents.
Is your child having fun? The best way to figure this out is to ask. But you can also tell by whether or not they look forward to practices and games. If you have to force your child to go to either, clearly it's not fun. After all, what child doesn't like to have fun? The only way to find out why it's not fun is to ask (and maybe be a bit more observant at the next practice).
The second question to ask yourself is whether or not you feel your child is becoming a better player. In addition to learning sportsmanship, making friends and having fun, parents also want their children to improve when playing a sport. Remember, getting better isn't always measured by the number of goals scored or assists tallied. If you don't think your child is improving and aren't sure why, just ask the coach.
Figuring out how to win more games is always a great question, but I think you'll agree for the casual youth sports coach and parent, the questions asked above are much more important at the halfway point of this youth sports season.
Why? Because there's still time to answer them.
Contact columnist Jon Buzby at JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.