Oct 20, 2022Liked by Claire Zulkey

A couple of quick notes from a former volunteer coach.

-> Please have your kid to practices/games on time, and text the coach early if the kid will be late or absent. Especially for games, we're making a lineup early, and it's challenging to have to change that 5 minutes before game time. Similarly, please be on time to pick them up at the end of practice/games. We can't leave your kid alone waiting at the field.

-> Please offer to help with practices. The more parents, the more different "stations" we can have going, and the less kids will be standing around waiting their turn. If you can't help with practices, offering to organize other events (end-of-the-season party, game snacks, etc.) will take those tasks off the coaches' plates.

-> Please do not yell at umpires/refs. Like the coaches, they are doing it for the love of the game, not for the piddling $25/game stipend. they do not hate your kid or love the other team. They just don't see everything that happens. As appropriate, your coach can have a talk with the league coordinator. Coaches can be held responsible for parent behavior, and it's never easy (as a coach) to tell a parent to STFU.

-> If you're not happy with the way your kid is being coached, or playing, talk to the coach, but be constructive about it. If your kid needs more than the coach can provide, then it's time to find another team that fits the needs. None of the kids on my team were going to play college or high-level high school softball; if they had that kind of talent, they needed a better coach, and I knew it.

-> THANK THE COACH, and encourage your kids to do so as well. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work that coaches do...much more to it than just practice and game time. All of it (at least in my case) is in addition to other personal/work responsibilities, and is entirely uncompensated. A little appreciation goes a long way.

(Note: I'm no longer a coach, but that's because my kids aged out and didn't want to play anymore, not out of anger/frustration. For the most part, the parents on my team were great people. Some of the other coaches were not as lucky.)

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Oct 20, 2022Liked by Claire Zulkey

My kiddo is just turning six so we've not been into the kid's sports from that end, but I've been in martial arts helping with kids coaching for a decade + now and it's so interesting to see the different paths kids take as they get older. Adolescence especially is so hard for kids as their bodies are just all over the place and they have so many competing interests and desires.

A few resources for parents- the US Olympic body has a program called "Safe Sport" that has a module for parents- if there's something about how coaching is going that's making you uncomfortable it's a good module for helping pick out red flags. CDC also has a Heads Up concussion training that any parent whose kid plays a sport with a concussion risk should take.

The best framework I've ever heard for kids sports is "first we teach them how to learn, then we teach them how to train, then we teach them how to compete, then we teach them how to win" And honestly how to win is for, like, high school age. Focusing on winning at age seven when they're still learning how to learn their sport is totally skipping all sorts of steps. And four and five year olds can barely handle learning how to learn, sports at that age are play groups, and that's okay! (Also why my kiddo is not doing sports yet, he can run around on the playground where I don't need to be somewhere on a schedule)

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Oct 20, 2022·edited Oct 20, 2022Liked by Claire Zulkey

thanks for this, Claire, I grew up in a sports obsessed family and was one of those “year round softball” kids in high school. I’ve avoided most of that with my kids so far but when my son was 9 he asked to play Little League and I said ok. When they sent the league rules I gave them to him to read - so many of them are about max pitch counts etc and poor parent behavior and he’s asked me what these things meant and I had to tell him some parents are nuts lol. Where I do falter a bit is in general overscheduling - like not where one sport or activity takes over our lives but the cumulative effect is that he’s in 5 different activities right now with a different thing every day before or after school (or both) that someone needs to take him to and it’s feeling ridiculous but he loves all of it and can be a miserable moody nightmare at home so we’re just going with it for now. Second kid is 3 and she’s on a MAX one activity allowance

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