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Rethinking Youth Sports

Making Youth Sports Less Stressful

Youth sports have become increasingly stressful for everyone involved. Here are some things MomsTeam.com will be doing to help everyone reduce the level of stress:

  • Training parents in "performance parenting" techniques so they will be better able to handle the stress of watching their child compete and won't get caught in the "intensity web."

  • Helping parents get and stay organized and managing their time. We will be offering practical suggestions on ways to more effectively juggle work, sports, and meals, from tips on car-pooling, to how to ensure that your child gets a nutritious meal on the go.

  • Offering advice on buying equipment, like sneakers, and other sports gear, and help picking the best sports camp for your child; and

  • Explaining the advantages of mission statements and team charters not only in preventing conflicts from developing between and among parents, coaches and youth sports officials, but in restoring the balance between winning and skill development. When everyone involved understands in advance that the one of the rules of a particular program is equal playing time, parents won't need to scream at the coach to put their child in the game and the coach won't be under pressure to play only the "best" players.

Making Youth Sports More Inclusive

Making youth sports more inclusive takes many different forms. It means such things as:

  • Eliminating cuts at the middle school and high school sub-varsity levels

  • Including more women in the coaching ranks

  • Including more women on the boards of directors of youth sports organizations and term limits for directors to prevent them from becoming too entrenched

  • Open board meetings, with the dates and times of meetings posted and published in the local newspaper

  • Setting up Parents Advisory Councils to advise the board of directors of youth sports organizations, and middle school and high school athletic departments on issues of concern to parents of athletes

  • "Evaluations," not "try-outs"

  • Equal playing time rules for all players

  • Rotate Players on to different teams each season to eliminate a practice of "stacking" teams thus creating cliques and an air of exclusivity. This is important for the player who isn't the strongest yet, but may be if given the opportunity, but also beneficial for the player who is popular but needs to learn tolerance and positive leadership skills.

  • Advocating for your own child to maximize the chances they will be given a chance to play (for the text of a sample letter to the director of a travel soccer click here).

  • Starting new youth sports clubs or teams to provide a spot to every child who wants to play (for the text of a sample letter to the director of a travel soccer club after cuts forced the writer to start a new soccer club, click here)

Share Your Ideas

You are all members of MomsTeam. I know you all have ideas on how to make youth sports safer, saner, less stressful and more inclusive. What has worked in your community? What hasn't? We want to know so we can share the information with all of the other members of MomsTeam! Together we can make a difference.

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