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Mid-point good time to assess your child's fall season

It's the halfway point for most fall youth sports leagues. It's also time for coaches to grade themselves, and for parents to also make sure their child is getting what they hoped they would back in September when the first practice took place.

COACHES

Has every player tried every position they wanted? Our job as youth sports coaches isn't to groom the next varsity goalkeeper, it's to make sure every kid who wants a chance to play a position gets an opportunity.

That might also mean "making" someone play because it's his or her turn. I've coached teams where nobody wanted to play goalkeeper, so we agreed as a team that everyone would until someone decided he really liked it (which didn't take long).

However, there are also instances when you shouldn't play someone in a position. It's dangerous for a child who still can't catch to play first base. But it's important to explain to the parents why he isn't getting the chance to play a very active and popular position.

Are your parents generally happy? Sure, my guess is some parent wants his kid to play more or more often in a different position. It wouldn't be youth sports if that wasn't the case. But overall, are your parents happy?

Sometimes a midseason survey is a good idea. It gives parents a chance to voice their opinion. And although you might not listen to every one of them, at least you'll get a feel for the job you are doing.

The same can be said of your players. Depending on the age, you might want to get their thoughts. You can do this either in a post-practice huddle or more formally in writing. It doesn't have to be extensive, but if every player is complaining that a certain drill is boring, maybe you should find a new one. And my guess is someone will certainly have a better snack suggestion!

PARENTS

If you are frustrated about something, it's time to talk to the coach. Again, there are no guarantees he will listen, but he can't change it if he isn't aware of it. If you aren't happy with your child's playing time, ask about it.

But remember, just because your kid is the best on the team (at least in your eyes), that doesn't mean he's going to play more than everybody else. A good youth sports coach gives everyone a chance to play almost equal time. That's one of the major purposes of youth sports.

If you aren't happy with how your child's league is being run or how your child is being coached, maybe it's time to look at other avenues before signing up for the next season. A different level of competition might be better suited for your child (and you). Just make sure you consult with the most important person first -- your child.

And lastly, it's probably time to register for that winter sport. Hopefully you haven't missed the deadline, but if your child plays a winter sport, most likely the deadline is coming soon.

Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous Web sites. E-mail your comments to his Web site at www.jonbuzby.com

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