As parents, we all go through the process of wondering not only how we sign our kids up for organized sports, but more importantly, what we are getting our kid into. Perhaps the questions below will help ensure that your child will have a positive experience in a league that meets their needs and interests, rather than a negative experience in a league that doesn't suit them.
Here's a list of questions to ask a potential league:
- If I sign my child up to play in this league, can I be sure they will be given a chance to play? Note: Many leagues are focused on the gifted athlete. If your child isn't a gifted athlete, you both may be in for a long season.
How are the postseason teams chosen? In other words, do you have All-Star teams? Many leagues choose All-Star teams that are selected by the coaches. Since many of the coaches are there because one or more of their children are on the team, too often their own child is selected whether or not they are deserving of the spot. This causes disharmony, friction and a negative experience for many of those involved in the program. Ask other parents with children in the league if this has been a problem in the past. Treat this situation the same as if you were looking for a new house. You would research the neighborhood, the schools and the friendliness of neighbors. Your child's youth sports experience will be an important one. It has the chance to be the best experience of their life or the worst, so be extra cautious.
Are coaches in the program properly trained in the responsibility of coaching children? Today, there are many programs to help coaches learn the "x's and o's" of coaching. But the important thing to ask is if their coaches' program includes safety training? Are the coaches held to a code of conduct? Are you able to rate the coach as a person who cares more about children having a positive experience than winning?
Our organization, the National Alliance for Youth Sports, finds that a tremendous number of children drop out of youth sports programs simply because, according to them, "it just wasn't fun." Following the above checklist may help prevent your child becoming one of the future sports dropouts.