When I started coaching youth sports, I was (legally) single, 24-years-old and not much cares in the world. I didn’t have a child (on the team or otherwise) which actually made coaching decisions a lot easier since no parent could blame me for being biased toward my kid.
In the leagues which I coached, basketball and baseball, we had weekday (and sometimes weekend) practices mixed in the games throughout the week. To me, at that time, weekday practices made sense. Also making sense to me was the rule “if you don’t practice, you don’t play.” What did I know about parent’s busy schedules, traveling time, day care, making dinner for four, or any “real” responsibilities?
Fast forward five years, add a wife and a step son and everything has changed. I talk to dozens of parents every day, who’s life is a lot like the 29-year-old Matt, and not like the 24-year-old one. I now have a better understanding as to what “real life” is to a lot of busy families, and how youth sports leagues should give busy families the opportunities to play.
At i9 Sports, a local youth sports league of which I’m the Program Director, we play one day a week, always on weekends, and have practice the same day as the game. Essentially, the kids practice anywhere from a half hour to an hour (depending on the age group) and then go right into playing a game.
When I first learned about this, I thought it was a terrible idea. I thought that families would hate that I would be offering them less practice and play time. Boy was I wrong. Parents genuinely love the convenience of everything being done on one day, and out of the nearly 2000 families who’ve played a sport with i9 Sports, I don’t think one of them has ever complained about everything being on one day.
The “if you don’t practice than you don’t play” policy can make sense in some leagues, like tackle football, where kids are taught essentially physical skills that make tackle football safer. However, in many leagues that have this policy, a few questions need to be asked:
Who is being harmed when the kid can’t play? Obviously, it’s the child who is missing out on the sport.
What is the reason for them not being able to make practice? Usually, the parent’s work schedule doesn’t allow them the ability to make a weekday practice.
Is it “right” to punish the child for not being able to make a practice due to their parent’s work schedule? If a child can’t practice during the week, s/he is being punished for their parents working during the wee.
It’s a never ending cycle.
At i9 Sports, parents love it being one day a week, and this convenience is
typically one of the things parents always mention when they talk about the
things in the league they love.
i9 Sports is a local youth sports league that offers flag football, soccer and T Ball this spring, as well as sports year-round. Patch readers always get $15 off their
program! Call us at 508-305-2103 today or visit www.i9sports.com.