Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just Beginning Youth Sports? Two Questions to Consider

By Greg A. Marshall
If you are the coach of a youth team (or planning to be one), you should share these thoughts with the parents on your team. You may want to prepare a handout with your coaching philosophies and distribute them at your pre-season team meeting.

Before a parent signs a up a child to participate in a youth sports activity, the parent must answer a couple of questions about the child's role in the activity as well as his own
A. Make sure your child is ready for Youth Sports.

Obviously, this is the most fundamental element of whether you and your child enjoy the youth sports experience. Many children play sports simply because their parents want them to play. Children WANT to please their parents, so naturally they will usually do what their parents wish whether they want to or not.

Ask yourself:

1."Does my child even WANT to play an organized sport?"
2. Is he/she physically/mentally ready for an organized sport?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, it is better to wait until next year, simply because of the level of interest and safety concerns.

B. Assuming your child is ready and wants to play, what must you, as a parent do to help get them ready to play?

Long before the first practice, spend some time in preparation. Begin by making the experience a fun and learning one. The best way is to begin teaching without the child even realizing that he or she is being taught - so it doesn't become "work." For example, to get ready for the baseball season, indulge in the pure enjoyment of "having a catch" with your child. This is great fun for you and your child, and will lay the foundation for many enjoyable hours later on. In "having a catch," you are teaching the proper way to catch and throw the ball. As your child's skill level improves, you (and they) will begin making more difficult throws and catches.

In addition to "having a catch," playing "wiffle ball" is a great (and inexpensive) way to begin developing batting skills. Developing the hand/eye skills necessary for batting is vital to success and satisfaction. Take a moment at the outset to demonstrate the proper grip, batting stance and swing. Don't allow yourself to become frustrated if it takes awhile for your child to grasp the concepts you present. That is the surest way to kill the desire to learn.

Whatever you do, give lots of praise and encouragement when warranted. The surest way to speed up the learning process is to praise when your young player gives solid effort and executes a procedure well. They will work extra hard to earn more praise. If they struggle, take a break, get a treat, and come back later. Sometimes a little time off does wonders.

Greg A. Marshall is the creator of, a unique website offering excellent teaching and coaching tools for coaches and parents of very young baseball enthusiasts. The resources on the website are designed for the parent or prospective youth coach who is overwhelmed at the prospect of starting from scratch. The website and materials offered are full of practical advice to help youth coaches from the very first day of practice.
Article Source:

1 comment:

Dennis Murray said...

It seems like most kids first real exposure to a sport anymore is when they first play the sport.

I first played organized t-ball at age which point I had seen my older brother play baseball and watched it on TV.

My own kids (age 5 and 2.5) see very little sports on TV, so they really haven't formed opinions on specific sports or know of a desire to play.

This past fall we took our first dive into a sports season experience. Our son had participated in instructional clinics for soccer and baseball and seemed to have fun, so we went on with a season of t-ball. I participated and assisted his coach.

There were definitely kids with more interest and skill, but I think all had a good time. Our coach kept things low-key and loose, and didn't try and force a higher level of competition into t-ball.

I think the keys to a successful season for beginners are:

1. Children need to be able to exist in a structured environment and take instruction. If they have been to pre-school or kindergarten, they can play a sport.

2. Goals of improving skills, not winning for the initial levels of competition.

3. A parent as head coach may make for a harder transition into sports. My kids usually prove to be more respectful of other adults than they do their own parents.

Engaging in play at home was a key to improving skill level, and making it enjoyable. I have trouble getting my son to engage in playing catch for more than a couple of minutes - but we can play wiffle ball for more than an hour. He can even throw decent pitches, which I think greatly improved his throwing ability in games.