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Equal Playing Time: Should It Be the Rule, Not the Exception?

The Fifty Percent "Solution"?

One year, when my sons were playing travel soccer, they had a coach who I will calll Nick. The season consisted of eight games, one every Saturday afternoon. The policy of the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association was for every child to play a minimum of fifty percent of each game.Girls soccer players sitting on bench

Seems fair enough, right? Think again. The way it worked on Nick's team was for six of the players (one of them his son) to play between seventy-five and one hundred percent of the game while the remaining twelve boys (including two of my sons) shared the remaining time. Sure, they all played fifty percent of each game, but thirty-five minutes, instead of the upwards of seventy the "favored" played each week.

The Coach’s Favorite

One of the players seemed to get special consideration. Ricky was a strong, natural athlete: big, fast and tall. Yet, despite the fact that he had never played travel soccer, missed all but two of the team's sixteen weekday practices!! due to other sport team commitments, he never came out of the game! Ever!

The favoritism that Nick showed Ricky wasn't lost on the parents, many of who grumbled on the sidelines about how unfair it was that he was always playing.

Building Resentment

It wasn't lost on the players either. Most players were essentially sharing a position with another boy and by the end of the season, each had played the equivalent of four full games, while the "lucky" six had played almost eight full games. Yet, each family paid the full price for their sons to be on the team.

Since it is generally agreed that the more one plays, the better one tends to get, not only did playing the less developed players less than the more skilled and experienced players make it harder for them to catch up to the other boys, but, worse, it made being on the team less fun and tended to build resentment among the "have nots" towards the full time players which was clearly destructive of team chemistry and cohesion. 

Playing, Not Winning, Should Come First

Dr. Milton Fujita, a California-based child-adolescent psychiatrist, has seen plenty of children harmed by participation in sports. "Organizing games for children is fine as long as it's organized so all the kids who want to play actually get to play," he says. "When the whole issue of winning becomes primary, then participation suffers.. Winning is kind of inherent. You can't really de-emphasize it. But winning at all costs is something that needs to be looked at very seriously," says Fujita.

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Equal playing time: Absolute or Within Certain Guidelines

I am a physical education teacher so, I have the unique opportunity to discuss issues in sports and youth sports with a variety of individuals from all positions and viewpoints, some of whom have a good deal of experience as athletes, teachers, coaches, and parents of youth sports participants. Recently I was in a discussion with a mom/coach/teacher/parent who was frustrated over the absoluteness of their park districts rule that all must play equal time, no matter what. The sport is baseball, the ages are around 10 to 12, and the rule is everyone sits 2 innings no more. Her frustrations center on the fact that several on the team she coaches miss practice regularly and are allowed the same playing time as the kids who never miss practice. In fact (as the rule stands) a kid could never come to practice, only come to games, and play just like everyone else. Anyone that would like to weigh in on this, feel free?

Kirk Mango

RE: Playing Time...

I am a former collegiate athlete and have coach for 16 years at all levels from club and high school, to college and I am a mom of two kids that play different sports. Playing time is a tough challenge that every coach has to face, "Winning - vrses play time". I think the key for this is to get a clear understanding from the start as to what the league you are playing in stands for, the age of the athletes, and the outcome desired.

When coaching younger athletes, I think you need to keep the PCA (Positive Coaching Aliance) Double Goal coach perspecective. You want the athletes to learn to pay their best and the idea and strategies you teach are to aid them in the goal of winning. Younger players need equally fair play time, parents expect it, and the focus is on development. This should also be reflective of practice. As a parent you need to be aware of the fact that there are usually severl different leagues in an area and you can choose what level you feel your son or daughter is ready for. Some are “fun” and non-competitive, while others are more competitive, and as they get older they can actaully become ellite.

As athletes get older and push on in high school and CHOSE for themselves that they want to play on elite teams, then they need to agree to the rules of the game. When I coached elite club I ensured that everyone would play, I did not guarentee equality in all games, and did have rules for missing practice before a tournament. I as a coach I knew my team wanted to win, everyone on the team agreed to the goal of becoming the best team in the region and state. As a coach I knew that in tight matches I needed to keep my best team on the floor as the team as a whole would be disapointed if I had not. On the other hand I also knew I had to do my best as a coach to ensure that I was developing my weaker and more inexperienced players as at any moment, they could take over for a starter. So I played them more in games that were not as key and especially early in the tournements. Making sure as well to mix them in at times even in tight matches that may not be as key to tournement outcomes, as they needed experience under pressure as well. I also did a lot to prepare them in practice to face these stress situations, so that game time was easy - in practice all were treated equal!

That being said, I had a parent meeting up front and let all parents know where I was coming from out of the gate. They all signed parent forms agreeing to my policies along with the players -- this included practice schedules and rules for being late. I also had an open door policy with my parents in that they knew when they could arrange to talk with me in private about any situation or thoughts they might be having about their daughter - play or practice. I happened to be in a unique situation though as I started my own club, so I did not have a larger entity to answer to, although after my first year I had several other coaches join my club as they liked my philosphies and team success.

Play time absolute...NO, anytime a rule becomes absolute it has lost it's ability to govern it looses the intent of what it was set out to do. Play time should reflect commitment and effort in the younger ages - the parents need to sign the contract more so than the kids, as they cannot expect equal play if their kid does not practice- this sends the wrong message. The player needs to sign a contract about their efforts when at practice. A coach needs to have the savey of knowing as well when a player didn’t make it because of circumstance beyond their control and when a player didn’t make it because they oppted to go to the birthday party. Overkill on rules never wins.

For example, my duaghter played on a travel soccer team at age 9 and she never missed practice, she was on time to all games except one. I had to stay at the house to waite for a construction delivery in the early morning and could not take her until it arrived as I was the only one who could sign for it. As it turned out the delivery was late and we ended up being 5 minutes late to the 30 minute pregame warm up. To which the coach said he would not play her for the first half of the game! A rule is a rule he said.... ok... to me it was overkill... it in this instance he did not send a message to the player, nor the team, or to me. I was so upset I told him that in all my years of coaching I never punished a player for circumstances beyond their control, especially my daughters age. I thought it was so rediculous that I politely told him that if this was his stance, my daughter didn't need to be a part of his team and was ready to pull her out of the program at that point. So he was "enforcing the rules" but to me the rule didn't fit the situation.

So note to parente: Know the competition level fo the league you are putting your kid in, know the rules that your coach has about playing time – if you don’t agree with them don’t put your kid in the league. Most leagues are run by volunteers so know that they may not be paid professionals and may make a few mistakes as well.

Note to coaches: You have a tough job pleasing everyone and you will not be able to 100% of the time. The key is to do your best and have clear guidelines that you will follow and that your players and parents agree to before the issues come up. Know your athletes as well and talk to them about the situations, let them know when you don’t play them why (ie non practice) and what they can do to get more. If the problem is not with the player, but with the parent, you need to talk to the parent about the need to get their kid to practice. I always did a parent phone number exchange to help with carpooling. This helped out a lot as even the more challenged parents could connect and make for arrangements.

Note to athelte: Know what type of team you are playing on, ask the coach for their expectations and know the guidelines – and if your too young to care, make sure your parents do!

Good Solution, however...

For the instances where a child is missing due to unforeseen circumstances or parent’s negligence, which I would hope any quality coach would take into consideration, your suggested solutions would be great. The coaches I know and work with, including myself, would automatically do this. I would even go as far as stating that unforeseen circumstances would fall into the category of applying the rule of equal playing time as it stands. However, in today's society where there are parental attitudes that tend to lean toward immediate gratification, individual "wants" (selfishness), and don't seem to demonstrate some sort of commitment to what one choses to do, I am not sure those solutions hold the same value. I am talking about kids being allowed to miss just because the young athlete had something better they wanted to do. Maybe 9 year old Johnny wanted to stay at the park and play rather than go to practice, or 14 year old Suzy had a sleep over she wanted to get to early, or 16 year old Mary had a birthday party she wanted to go to and rather then be a little late to the party she just skips practice. In addition, there are individuals (more then many might think) who sign there young athlete up or let them try out for "everything." All of a sudden the poor kids plate is overflowing and there becomes big conflicts. Put kids like this on a team where the other half of that team never misses practice or games because the parents of those kids set parameters and help their kids set priorities and give all of them equal playing time as it was explained in my original post and in all likelihood there will be issues. It is a formula for animosity. Do the same solutions apply in instances such as these?


The originator of my discussion asked if I would post this....

The teacher/coach/athlete/parent for whom I originally posted my comment about tried to make a post here and was unable to get it to take so she asked me if I would be willing to post her comment. Here is her comment:


I read your article about the frustration created when coaches are unfair. If all things are equal, it should never happen that a few kids get the playing time of 8 games and others kids only get the equivalence of 4. Which is exactly why I got involved in coaching my daughter’s softball team.

I was fortunate to have a history of athletics (I played on community teams as a child; I was a 4 year H.S. athlete and earned a college scholarship. I also coached H.S. athletics for 12 years before having kids of my own). I didn't get involved to have my daughter play more than other athletes. I got involved because I didn't want "any" child to have such an unfair experience.

Her first year playing softball, she had a great coach and a great experience! Her second year, she also played for a "so called Nick.” Although she was at every practice, she batted last or there about, usually played outfield, and sat 2 of the 6 innings every game.

The next year I was her coach. I kept track of who sat out, where they played and attendance. Every kid played in the infield and outfield every game. If they sat 2 innings this game, they only sat 1 inning next game. If they had to sit twice they only played outfield once. The batting order rotated down one each game, so everyone batted in every spot. It was more work on my part, but I thought I was being as fair as I could be. Parents were happy and we took first place. But was I really being fair?

My daughter was the only one with perfect attendance, and she had the most sit outs (even though they were all within 1 or 2). She missed several other commitments she would have liked to go to (birthday parties, her graduation from her church group, etc...) Things other kids went to. I know I'm teaching her valuable life lessons, but it's becoming more and more challenging when less and less parents are teaching those lessons.

This year I have one girl who will miss every weekend game, because their family goes to their summer home. There is another girl who will miss every week game, because she has an instrument conflict. There are several girls on the team who have missed practice. I blame the parents for not making the commitment. If they're late it's not usually the kid’s fault it's the parents. Why put your kid on a team, when you know they will only be able to make half the games? Why put your kid on a team, if you won't make the effort to get them there, and won't teach them what it means to be part of a team.

Every time someone doesn't show up, it makes it difficult to run plays in the game, when some of the kids don't know the plays, because they weren't at practice to learn the plays. The league rules say that playing time must be fair and equal. Yes, it can be manipulated a little, as suggested in the earlier article. The problem is, even if the kids who are at practice more and show a bigger commitment to the team, get a little more playing time, they are not getting better. Their level of play is stagnant, because they can't run plays and play the game as it should be played. So does that extra playing time help?

To be honest, I think it only frustrates them more. It's simple, don't join a team if you can't commit to it. Yes, it's just a game, but being part of a team at any age has many lessons. It means sacrifice and hard work. Things we should be teaching our kids. Ask corporate America one of the biggest problems, and many employers would say, "they don't know how to be part of a team". I wonder why?

It's unfortunate that we have all probably worked or played for the "Nick" coach, who is just unfair. My experience more often is that there are many people unwilling to make the commitment and sacrifice, and it's much easier to just blame coach "Nick.”

Another perspective

Here is another perspective given by Stephen Brown (parent and youth coach) that describes a similar real world issue regarding the "everyone plays equal time" rule. It should add to our discussion here and I am looking forward to responses from others as to how they see and deal with situations like the following. Should we really support the idea of total equal playing time as an absolute in all sports? Are there exceptions? Does the age of the athlete have any bearing on how it should be applied - is it the same at 5, 10, 14, 16, 18 years old? Some things are not always as simple as they seem. Here is the story: "If we can start the discussion by making the assumption that the role of youth sports in each child's life is actually larger than the specific sport or skills themselves, then I believe that many of the rules in youth sports programs today are prohibiting coaches from maximizing the opportunity to help kids grow. It is clear that a very, very few will make a career playing some form of sport. The real benefit of sports programs at all levels is the lessons they can impart that will actually impact participants lives regardless of their chosen path. "My concern is that rules designed to positively impact children are actually having a negative effect. Rules such as mandatory/equal playing time, a lack of practice attendance policies, continuous batting orders in little league, trophy/game ball presentation regardless of outcome and just the general 'as long as the kids have fun' mentality. While the intention behind such rules is good natured, they are making it more difficult for youth coaches to teach the life lessons through sport. "An example of this happened this week on one of my little league teams. The young man involved is a very good player, probably the best on the team. He didn't get to start the game pitching and consequently had a negative attitude that was visible on his face, through his body language and the effort he put forth. When he was asked to pitch in the 3rd inning, he did not perform well and showed a poor effort. When the coaches talked to him, he expressed that he was upset he didn't get to start the game as the pitcher, instead playing shortstop. We explained that his obligation was to help the team in any way he was asked too and that no matter where he played, he had a responsibility to the other players to try his best. Showing no remorse or attempt to rebound, we removed him from the game after the third inning. We sat and talked to him on the bench about being a teammate, being selfless, sacrificing for the good of the team and he refused to make eye contact or even answer. After not playing him in the fourth inning due to his attitude, we again tried to talk to him and again to no avail....he was not responsive. This is where the dilemma begins. The league we participate in has a rule that each player may not sit on the bench for two consecutive innings, for any reason. Therefore, we had to play him again after he had openly demonstrated a disrespectful attitude. He got to play and it felt like our chance to reach him had been taken from us because of the playing time rule. "At this point in the game, he did not deserve to take playing time away from the other kids who where giving it there all and maintaining a proper attitude. Not to mention the fact that the other kids were all aware of the problem and watched as there was very little consequence for his actions. Now the rule has not only limited the coaches ability to reach the child in question, but all of the other players are observing the behavior and the fact that there was no real consequence. We talked about the issue as a team, but its difficult to create a standard when there is no option to enforce it. "Even though the league believes that the mandatory/equal playing time rule is benefitting kids, I contend that the rule prevented the coaches from having any chance to benefit that child. Its not the easy road, I know, but limiting the opportunity to teach life lessons through sport seems like exactly the opposite of what is in the best interest of the participants. "The young man in question is 10 years old. Is that too young to begin to worry about issues such as attitude, respect, sacrifice, teamwork, etc? Does your opinion of the story change if the player is 15? Does your opinion change if the player is 7? "I believe most involved in athletics would expect a 15 year old participant to display a proper attitude at all times. My worry is that not enough people are demanding it at 10 years old...which is producing more problems by the time they are 15. Difficult to create 15 year old athletes with the proper attitude if we haven't always expected it out of them! " As we can see by this example, the issue is not winning the issue is appropriate behavior by a 15 year old athlete. This is good food for thought. Comments are welcomed.




I couldn't agree more. As a coach myself, player selfishness is one thing that cannot be tolerated. Other kids see it and will copy the actions if not kept in check. I'm fortunate enough to have a 10 year old son who is pretty good in all the sports he plays. My wife and I have tried to instill in him leadership qualities. 10 years old is not too early for this. I don't know if there is an age that is too early to stress appropriate behavior.

It sounds like the kid in the above article was one of the team's better players. He pitched and he played shortstop. If he can get away with acting selfishly, others will try also. It's imperative that coaches can control this situation with playing time. We're in All-Star baseball season now. Some of the kids on the team have shown bad temper by stomping feet or slamming helmets after strikeouts. My son popped out in a game this weekend in a big spot. He returned to the dugout dejected and slammed his helmet. He had NEVER done this before. However, none of the coaches spoke to him (or the others who had been doing similar things) about it. I made it a point to talk to him after the game. He won't succeed every time. Slamming his helmet is a bad example for anyone and particullarly for him as a leader on the team. I think (hope) he got it.

If coaches don't react to this bad behavior, hopefully parents can step in and correct it.

Great comment

JIm, Great comment. Keep a close eye on this discussion there are all kinds of points being brought out from several individuals. Also, you may want to check out the sister version of this post. Others have made different comments there and there are several links in that one you might find interesting in some of the posts. Here is the link: http://www.momsteam.com/node/2634


Good Question

In my experience, starting in 6th grade, things do get more competitive especially at the traveling level. I don't believe that traveling baseball players should be guaranteed equal playing time. If you are making the commitment to traveling baseball, you are making the commitment to more competition. That level is good for some of the better players. It is a choice they make. If you don't want that type of commitment, then you have a choice to stay at the house level.
Now... Don't take my comments wrong.... I do think there needs to be guaranteed amounts of playing time for youth traveling baseball leagues, but it doesn't need to be equal. All kids that make any team deserve a certain amount of playing time, but kids at the traveling level should not be guaranteed equal.
Does that make sense?

Is that team still around?

Just another angle to give this thread.

What I see happening is that parents don't sign up and pay to watch their kids sit on the bench game after game. Kids don't join a team to sit on the bench either. What ultimately happens is that the kids/parent find something else to do. The old-time feeling of "being part of a team is good enough", just isn't good enough anymore!

These teams will eventually only retain their starters... and sometimes they'll lose their superstar talent to elite clubs and get a double whammy! Now they've lost their "fill-in's", their star left, and the team is done!Some parents and coaches are TOO concerned over where their team is placed and winning.

In my area, we have travel soccer and the travel leagues are broken down in flights. The lower the flight number, the better the teams. Everyone want to get into the top flights, and for some reason the others just aren't good enough...

This situation happened to one of our travel teams, not so much over playing time but the same idea applies.

Our travel teams allow a certain number of out-of-district players to be on each team. The coach found these inner-city kids who were absolutely phenomenal. With these three kids, they took that team to be one of the top in the state at the top flight. The coach though had his work out for him. The kids typically needed rides to and from practices, games, and what-not. The team cut kids within our district because "they weren't good enough." These kids found other travel teams to go to, although they were not as highly ranked. Fast forward two years, the team disbanded. All three superstars either got scooped up by the ODP program, MAPs, or lost interest.

It brings me to my question, what this for the kids? or the coach? I know some of those kids who were cut are still playing, our club could still have had a travel team at the bracket if the need to win and win at the elite level wasn't such a priority.

Play Time Abuses in Club Volleyball

Another real aspect of growing non-participation in youth sports is club/youth teams that will atrract a certain number of players/families to a club but come game day will only play the same starters over and over again. To the point where non-starters hardly play at all.

This is our case with club volleyball. Generally, club volleyball teams need 9-10-11 players for meaningful practices but mostly for the (quitely) pushed aside reason of needing to lower average costs for the players/families they REALLY want. Our daughter's club took ten and told all the girls they were all worthy of making the team and playing and then proceeded to play just six girls the entire season. Every game day was a day of pain and embarrassment for my daughter. Everyone involved in youth sports knows that NO child feels like he/she is truly part of the team unless he/she plays in meaningful games, at meaningful parts of the game.

Please don't confuse my statements with saying that competitive clubs have to play all players equally. I'm not saying that at all, but NOT playing almost half your team hardly at all is also inexcusable behavior from adults who claim to be involved with youth sports because they "care" about kids!

We later found out from another parent that our daughter's club had promised four families that if their daughters came out fro the team, their daughters would 1) make the team, 2) start 3) never come out outside of injury or sickness. These promises were made prior to tryouts and an additional caveat these parents sought (and got) was that this arrangement would not change no matter what any other girl showed in practice throughout the season!!

This is another big reason young people are leaving organized sports. . . . adults claiming to care for children are simply using them for personal egrandizement. The ones who play at least have a happy side effect of playing - as they are used by these adults. The ones who don't are used in a much more horrific manner resulting in, as you all are observing, crushing blows to their self esteem,which, in turn results in development of a very jaded attitude toward coaches or other adults (that is, they now expect them to say one thing and do another) and most sadly, the loss of love of a sport that was once such a bright part of their lives.

This is such a tragic consequence, wouldn't you all say, especially when viewed with the knowledge that it ALL could have been avoided by just giving a kid a little meaningful play time?

I have, though it's probably naive, a desire to try and do something to stop these clubs from hurting more children. They simply couldn't operate unless they were successful, year after year, in duping other families into thinking that their child will truly be developed in ALL aspects of the game - including the incredibly important aspect of playing in game-time stressors. In fact, these clubs only want checks from (in the case of volleyball) four more families to lower the costs for the six families they plan on showcasing. They prey upon the most deep seated emotions all parents have when it comes to their children and that's . . .hope. It's such a disgusting scenario when viewed in the light of day that you truly do want these clubs stopped and exposed for what they are. Sorry if that got a little emotional, but the damage to my daughter over these few years is substantial.

I appreciate any and all prespectives.


Greg, Thank you for your

Greg, Thank you for your comment. the reason I began MomsTeam and wrote my book was to help adults understand that this type of behavior can not and should not be tolerated. It is cruel and unethical.The fact that you are adding to this dialog is important to keeping a light on the cruel practice. Until the schools and National organizations get on board the only thing we can do is forward the link to this article to as many people as possible.The more people who know that they are not tricking anyone but only causing deep pain, will be all the better for everyone. Please continue to add your thoughts to our forums and join our MomsTeam Facebook page as we open this up to the masses. Brooke



Brooke de Lench

Publisher /Editor In Chief



Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports (Harper Collins)

Brooke - thank you for this forum!

Sadly, I have to tell you that I believe clubs and the coaches who work for them- like the one I'm writing about- still do fool many families every year. Especially at young ages, of all things, when a child could use the most development, including development garnered through real play time. Generally families will let their child participate on a club team if a slot is offered after try-outs,and they'll generally do so joyfully thinking of the great development their child will get, however I've never heard once where a parent happily signs their child up for a club team expecting their child to receive next to NO real playing time!
The club will hide behind its carefully crafted handbook lingo stating that equal play time is not guaranteed . . . in fact, play time is earned in practice! But the perversion of this club by-law into having some children suffer through NO play time is quite a different thing altogether. I firmly believe that no family, no child, would ever participate on these types of clubs if they knew the trap the club was prepared to spring upon them the instant the family signed a binding contract committing them to a string of hefty payments. Once committed, the club has the backing of the regional branch of the USA organization that organizes the sport for tournaments during the club season, if the club has a "troublesome" family and wishes to discipline that family.
Once I had signed the contract, seeing the abuse heaped upon my daughter, I could try and resolve things with the coach and the club . . .but, they held ALL the aces.
I knew my daughter's coach was deeply committed to keeping my girl on the bench when I offered to pay this coach additional dollars to "fix" whatever she felt was "broken" in my daughter (through lessons) so she could just get a little bit of real play time . . and this coach REFUSED!!
I brought my daughter to another respected collegiate coach and former NCAA DIV-I player for lessons and after the period of lessons had passed ,this former coach told me that unless the girl who was starting in front of my daughter (this is on a 14 year old team) was an actual Olympian that it was unfathomable to think that my daughter's coach wouldn't start my girl and play her for the majority of the minutes . . . .to hear that my daughter was, in fact, receiving NO play time was absolutely, truly, unthinkable to this former DIV-I player and could only be attributable to a coach hell-bent on dishing out some sort of personal vendetta against a CHILD! And she said that if that was the case, then there were worse problems, in that I was probably dealing with a border-line personality that really shouldn't be allowed near children in the first place!
So even armed with all these facts and just simply seeing what my own eyes revealed to me in watching how my daughter practiced, and how the girl who received 99.99% of the play time was basically an equivalent player to my girl in ability . . .I could receive no satisfaction in my attempts to save my daughter's self-esteem when I talked to the coach because she said . . .simply . . . "I disagree with you. You are a biased observer . . .a parent . . .and since I disagree with you I want you to go away, don't bring this up again, and be happy with your daughter's 0.01% play time." End of story! I had no recourse and even if I stopped paying my club dues . . . .stating, as I DEEPLY felt, that the coach/the club was NOT living up to their end of the contract . . .which was to develop my daughter into the best volleyball player she could be with all the tools the club had at their disposal .. .the club could sanction me through the USA organization and keep her from playing NEXT year . . .with a different club!!
I'd sure be interested in learning about ways to stop these abusive people and minimize the pain they're inflicting on unsuspected families!

All about perspective

My son is a good ball player. This year (he is 12) we decided it is time for travel baseball. We did not want to start to early due to burnout that many players suffer. He is a bigger boy (5ft 6 and 160lbs - not built for speed) and a true lefty. I say this just to give perspective.

Anyway, we were NOT going to sign up for Little League this year since we already agreed to play travel ball. However, the little league coach called and basiclly begged to allow our son to play again this year (the league is a 9-12 yr old league) We said that he could play BUT that the travel ball was FIRST and that we may miss about 5 of the 18 games (so far we are thru game 13 and we have not missed any games, but one game we arrived in the 5th inning). Also our son would not miss a travel ball practice over a little league game (however we did miss a travel ball practice for a game.) We also informed the coach that he also played middle school football, and would likely miss (or be late) to practice/game due to 2 weeks of Spring practice) All of this was agreed to PRIOR to signing my son up to play little league. See the coach needed my son not just for playing ability (pitching, hitting and 1st base), but for leadership. The first game - we were ahead by like 10 runs, and my son went to the coach and asked to sit out to allow another boy more playing time. I am not saying my son is perfect - far from it, but the other kids do look up to him. This is all a part of life.

 The coach has had to battle a FEW parents, because they did not like the playing time rotation. Every team has those parents, usually younger players. But I ask you, is it fair to my son to sit the bench at 12 while watching someone else who can barely catch and throw a baseball. Not everyone is meant to play a sport. My son will not be a soccer player....he is just not ever going to be fast enough...so do I expect him to go out and play soccer - now....If he wanted to play - I Would not expect him to play as much as the best players. This year he played middle school football as a 6th grader. He is an offensive lineman. He played some, but not much. AND we COMPLETELY understood. We NEVER complained. The other boys were mostly 8th graders and a few 7th graders.

In little league the rule is 2 consecutive innings in the field and 1 at bat - minimum. There is a Major and a minor league. The Major league is for the better players (or 12 yr olds). The minor league is for undrafted players (no 12 yr olds). Parents of 9 and 10 yr olds DO NOT have to go to a draft and if they do not attend a draft they are automatically placed in the minor league. I say this because part of the playing problem is due to parents thinking their 9 or 10 year old child is so awesome they can play better than an 11 or 12 year old. Some can - most can not. When my son was 9 we LEFT him down in the minor league to get MORE playing time. Many people thought we were nuts, but he got to play every game the whole game. If we had moved him up he would have been on the bench for all but 6 outs and 1 at bat...he was 9 competing for playing time against 12 yr olds....come on - lets be realistic. Those 12 year olds had to sit the bench when they were 9 and 10. So my advise is leave your 9 and 10 yr old kid down in the minors if he is good and wants playing time.

 To continue my novel (ha ha). My son gives up ALOT to play for the little league this year. We race him from practice to practice and game to game. After 2 hours of griding it out at middle school football practice, he arrived just in time for a little league game. He was tired, but played for his team. Another example. last saturday we had a travel game at 11:45...then 6:00....and a little league game at 7:00....We literally finished the 6:00 travel game at 7:30- raced to car....drove 15-20 minutes and got to the little league field at 8:15--5th inning. We told the coach our son did not need to play that he could just sit on the bench and cheer on his team, but the coach said no I want him to play - and so he did.

The moral of my ranting above, is there are two sides to every story. Those who say winning does not matter that much as just fooling themselves. Good players deserve to play also and if they are contributing more to the winning cause they should play more. Sports is about winning and loosing - otherwise we would not keep score. That being said, we should let everyone play in Recreational sports equally at a certain age, but once the kids start getting into more competitive leagues, then the best should play the most. It is life. If you are your company's best sales person - you should get the most and best leads, not the give the most and best leads to the weaker sales person....they just may drop the ball and loose the sale.

Sports is about team. Working as a team, winning as a team, loosing as a team. Sometimes the best lesson we can learn is I need to work harder and get better to play more. It is the competitive drive that teaches us to strive for the best we can acheive.

Kelly - I agree with you - to a point

If a youth team takes more kids onto their team than are required to take the field/court . . . .EVERY child must be able to play SOME meaningful minutes/innings/quarters. The "rub" is how many minutes. I will tell you it's not - in our case with volleyball - when the score is 23 - 5 - and the coach throws your child in for those final two points. EVERYONE know that the kid's been "thrown a bone" and the coach is essentially saying to the kid, her parents . . .heck to EVERYONE watching . . . "Well, this kid can't possible ruin our victory now . . .I'll play her." That's SO destructive to self- esteem I can't even put it into words! So the coach has that challenge of finding a way to put a player in for meaningful minutes so that he/she's NOT crushing the child's spirit or love of the game. I'm not saying it's easy, but it MUST happen if you're going to put more than the number required to take the field/court on your team. Well, it only must happen if you're going to hold yourself as an adult involved in youth sports who truly cares about children. That's a reason why the coach got involved in youth sports. . . . right? Or was it just to win and feel that "rush" to YOUR ego that winning on the backs of the same players, over and over again, for every minute, of every game . . . brings you? Believe me the parents, families, spectators who see the choice the coach makes in play time KNOW the true make-up of the coach's character based on the play-time decision alone!

There is a difference

Between a house team and a travel team. Kids get cut from travel teams and they may not play as much as others on a travel team. I don't agree with it totally, but I understand it. As a youth coach myself, I prefer building the entire team because you don't know when your "starters" may not be there do to injury, family events, or other reasons.

However, on house teams, everyone makes the team. Everyone pays the same amount. To be honest, I'd rather see my kid cut from the team and save me the money and my kid's self-esteem, then pay it and watch my kid get played the minimum week after week and watch him suffer.

Greg, I hear you!!! Lot's of shallow ego's out there... To win at kiddie sports doesn't rank high on my rush scale!
Good luck with your daughter, maybe there's another club out there ?

This is from one of our

This is from one of our scholarship applicants... seems relevant to the conversation:

How Soccer and HTRSA Influenced Me

For me soccer has been one of the main influences in my life. Between HTRSA,
high school soccer and all the other sports and activities I do, I’ve learned a lot. In my 14 years
of playing soccer, including 7 years playing for HTRSA teams, I’ve been influenced greatly.
Soccer has taught me many life lessons, for example teamwork, trust, and leadership. Especially
for me personally over the years the game of soccer has proven to me that I wanted to become a
coach and help children learn to love soccer like some of my coaches have done me.

Teamwork, leadership, and trust are main building blocks of life in this world,
and I’ve learned all three in the game of soccer. I’ve learned teamwork and how to work well
with others to succeed and accomplish goals. Working together requires the feeling of trust. On
almost every soccer team I played for, I felt like I trusted the players around me, to help me and
for me to help them. Also one of the biggest influences soccer gave to me was the importance of
leadership. While playing in the HTRSA program I took it upon myself to try and lead my team
to work together and win. More recently, I was named Captain of the varsity soccer team for my senior year and JV Captain my junior year. As a captain, I realized
how important my actions were to the team, and how people looked up to me. I had to make sure
my team trusted and respected me. Even though I dislocated my shoulder 2 games into the
season, I went to every practice and every game acting as a coach from the bench. With every
sports related injury, I never gave up, and always stuck with my team. I think I showed my
leadership to the team and I think they learned from it.

I think the biggest impact soccer and the HTRSA programs had on me was
providing me the experiences which influenced my decision to want to coach. Over the years of
playing I’ve had many coaches, some were awesome and great coaches and others were awful.
The great coaches I had were the ones that allowed me to learn the teamwork, leadership, and
trust. It was the bad coaches I had that forced me to realize I wanted to coach, but not to be like
them. I want all children to be able to play and grow an appreciation of the sport and team
cohesiveness. Of all my coaches I only had a few bad coaches, and those few were the ones that
made me realize that is not how you develop a child. To me, a team means that everyone is there
for a reason and everyone contributes to the team in some way not just the “star player”. I
believe that everyone deserves their time in the game. So I’d like to thank my bad coaches for
showing me what not to do when I grow up and coach, and I’d like to thank my good coaches for
teaching me some very valuable lessons that go well beyond soccer.

Even though soccer and the HTRSA programs have influenced me, I’m not the
only child they helped. The world needs people to help instruct our children, and I think the
HTRSA is doing that very well. Out of my seven years playing for HTRSA, two at which were
on a competitive team, I only had one bad coach in the HTRSA program.

Thank You HTRSA

It offers exceptional

It offers exceptional services in parent coaching including toddler parenting, child parenting & teenage parenting which make parent-child relationship stronger Thanks for sharing the informative post.

All playing time shold be equall

I play soccer and my coach doesnt play me fair at all its not a club team its only a community i played 1 shift a whole entire half and at the end of the game i only got to play 3 shifts, I dont know how to talk to my coach about me not getting that much playing time. this person on my team played the whole game and only came off once. i'm tired of the way that my coach is treating me and i dont know what to do!

  Thank you for the

  Thank you for the question. As a former coach and now working with families I can tell you that the kids who are the "squeaky wheels" and show a passion for playing are the ones that seem to get put in more often. These kids are like cheer-leaders for themselves. They advocate for more playing time. It may feel like you are kissing (you know what) but this may be all you need to get more time. Does coach seem to play the kids who beg to go in more than you? I wonder if this is all it will take or maybe an extra camp this summer to help your skills.  


Brooke de Lench

Publisher / Editor In Chief



Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports

  See my answer

  See my answer below-Brooke 




Brooke de Lench

Publisher / Editor In Chief



Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports

" Squeaky wheels get the grease" ??

Thank you for the question. As a former coach and now working with families I can tell you that the kids who are the "squeaky wheels" and show a passion for playing are the ones that seem to get put in more often. These kids are like cheer-leaders for themselves. They advocate for more playing time. It may feel like you are kissing (you know what) but this may be all you need to get more time. Does coach seem to play the kids who beg to go in more than you? I wonder if this is all it will take or maybe an extra camp this summer to help your skills.  


Brooke de Lench

Publisher / Editor In Chief



Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports

Play Time should be a no-brainer!

Appreciate the comments and perspectives, Greg K is still my hero! I have been around the game of volleyball for 30 yrs. I have kids who have participated in the club game for a combined 11 yrs. My kids have been among the fortunate who have played (so far). It has pained me though through these years to watch the same kids faces on the side lines tournament after tournament. I have watched as some of those kids didn't come back the next season. I am deeply sadden by what a game that is fun (if you play) has become.
It is long over due for associations and clubs to step up and fix what's going on.  We need associations and coaches to also hear this voice.
It has taken a lot of work but |I have been pulling the lone easily dismissed voice together and will continue to do so. I have pulled some of this together on a Facebook page "what's wrong with club volleyball". Some bits and pieces from MomsTEAM and many other sources. The information is out there the concern is expressed its time for associations to do the right thing!
Thanks MomsTEAM for making these forums available!
Interested to do more but we need others to raise their voices!

Concerned Parent - Thanks For The Nice Comment!

I like being someone's hero. I was (am) my daughter's hero when we fought these "volleyball wars" together a few years ago.

I have to say if you truly are a parent of a girl(s) who PLAYS but have been able to see what club (and, sadly, many high school) volleyball squads have become over the last 6-7 years . . .then YOU might be a candidate for sainthood!! As you might guess, the normal way of things is that for a squad of 10 girls where four girls sit ALL THE TIME- EVERY GAME . . .is that the parents of the starters/"play-all-the-timers" are VERY happy with the status quo. The worst ones are the parents who view their daughter's 100% playing time almost like a birth-right . . .almost like it's ordained from God! The horrible coaches give birth to these types of parent's when they start a kid down the road to "diva-ism" through constant playing time. The kid . . . her parent's . . .maybe other's . . .begin to view games as "un-winnable" if this girl isn't on the court for 100% of the points! Mutiply that girl by six and you have a truly dysfunctional team that is also emotionally crucifying four or so girls on a regular basis.

I'd never think it was possible for a parent of a player who got alot of playing minutes to stand with someone like me who was crying out that the devastation of 3 or 4 young girls emotional well-being just wasn't worth it for a "win" and it was entirely preventable for just a little real, meaningful playing time! But you are . . . .and you're MY hero for doing so!!!!

Our family's discussions back then when we'd anguish over seeing how essentially equal my girl was to the starter who played and never came out, sometimes included thoughts that maybe, just maybe the girl, -or her parents - would approach the coach and say "You know, coach, me getting all the minutes while Susie (name changed) gets none . . .just doesn't sit well with me. I could play one game and she could play the other. What do you think coach? " But then we'd sigh, and realize that this would NEVER happen. But you have restored my faith in humanity!!

Thank you SOOO much for fighting this good fight. Our children are worth it and this wonderful sport is worth it as well.

Let me know if you need other writings to posts. I have about 3-4 threads on Mom's Team basically on this subject! God bless you!

Thank you!

  H Greg-- thank you so much for your thoughts. We have some ideas for you if you send an email to editors@MomsTEAM.com and tell them who you are we have some thoughts. Or, to me at delench@momsteam.com


Brooke de Lench

Publisher / Editor In Chief



Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports

Thank you!

Thanks Greg K for your words of wisdom and Thank you Brooke for this sight! I too was fooled and your story sounds like our life right now. Our children ARE worth it. You have my support!

Thanks . . .Lori. . . .and sorry . . .

. . .if my volleyball stories sound anything like your life right now. It's certainly no way supposedly "decent" and "right-thinking" adults should ever behave toward young people regarding a sport they've fallen in love with.

And even though I'm slightly off from the overall title of this thread (that's to say . . I don't believe in EQUAL playing time at high levels of sports such as Varsity HS or travelling club teams) . . my crusade has always been against those coaches who will totally bench (or "near" totally bench) a girl they've placed on their team!!

If you child is going through this with volleyball, PLEASE, PLEASE see if you can get her involved with cross country, track, swimming, tennis . . . .something where she's still part of a team but where she's performing basically as an individual . . . . where, with enough races, heats, matches . . .EVERY kid gets to show their stuff, and no coach can stand in the way of the athlete showing their talent for all to see!! Our move into track saved my daughter's psyche, self-esteem and emotional well-being. And we didn't even mess with "team" sports such as volleyball with our second oldest daughter because of this seemingly ever increasing potential of running into these "morally challenged" coaches who can knowingly chose to destroy the self esteem of anywhere from 3-4-5 young people they selected to be "on" the team! My daughter was into basketball and was playing very well, but her sister's experience with volleyball just convinced her to never trust that type of "team" dynamic with her HS sports career.

Give it a thought and best wishes!

Greg K, while I applaud your

Greg K, while I applaud your passion and need to feel like you can "fix" all of your kid's issue that come up. Totally ailenating them from any "team" sport isn't the way to go either. Your second daughter may have been a phenominal basketball/ volleyball player, but we'll never know. Is it better to just put up the white flag and give up and not try? I'm pretty sure that's not what this site is all about.
You are also dangerously painting every team sports coach with the same brush. I know there are some out there just like the one, unfortunately, that you had to deal with, but not all are that way. In fact, I'd say on the whole, most coaches do EVERYTHING they can to grow these kids up as athetes and as people.

PLEASE . . .please . . .READ what I'm writing . . .

Common Sense . . .vs just responding.  You'll see that I'm generally responding to parents who've experienced something similar to what we experienced with volleyball.  I then make a suggestion as to what a parent can do to try a repair some of the emotional damage done by these particular coaches.

I wouldn't expect everyone to remember each part of my oldest's journey through volleyball, but she did have one club coach, in one season, who was a wonderful man and truly cared about the self-esteem of ALL the girls he selected to his team. There wasn't equal playing time on this team (the best players played the most - my daughter . . one of them) . . .but NO girl sat entirely through a match or through a tournament having her soul ripped out for all to see. This DID happen on TWO of my daughter's club teams (TWO different coaches) and on her Varsity HS team as a junior where after the coach who selected her had to leave early in the season and she was replaced essentially by a committee of coaches made up of moms who had daughter's on the team (DO you think their daughters EVER sat down?)

It just happened too often to a very good volleyball player (my daughter)  who deserved better, for me to feel that her experience was RARE.  And my reading of the posts on this board lead me to believe the situations I'm writing about happen WAY too frequently to WAY too many girls.  I'll NEVER say all team coaches, even ALL volleyball coaches behave this way.  I only throw out the idea of individual performance (still teams) sports for young people where there's NO possibility of running into the types of coaches that we just seemed to have the poor luck of having around every corner in our volleyball world. Some parents might think that's worth pursuing vs rolling the dice on getting a great coach in a team sport like volleyball, baseball, basketball . . .that, evidently, are coming out of the wood-work where you live.

That's really all I'm saying.



Some kids dont cut it, if u put them in for playing time they dont do there job they put them selfs at risk of injury and others I will not put no one at risk of that cause kids dont want to give there 100% out on the field. I think some parents just put there kids into sports for something to do, and leave the 1 kids that want to win and exceed and win playoffs and Champinships it takes ,heart ,toughness,and talent and I will sit the ones out that do not meet this standers.

I'm really at a loss as to how to respond . .

So let me keep this simple.

If you wrote your comments above about "youth, civic/church, YMCA" type leagues that are there for 5 year olds through around 11 year olds, then you should be ashamed of yourself and I'm confident these leagues will drum you out quickly enough so you won't impact any young people in any lasting negative ways.

If you're writing your comments above about JV/Varsity / Competitive Clubs type athletes . . .here's a simple solution for you. DON'T select these terrible, no-heart, "putting everyone at risk for injury" type athletes to your team. Cut them at try-outs! If you select them to the team . . . .figure out a way to play them. Again, I've NEVER been an advocate of absolute EQUAL playing time. Play your better players more. But if you selected a kid to your team . . .figure out a way to play them in meaningful games, for meaningful minutes before you do irrepairable damage to their souls. Or get out of coaching and let another adult with the intelligence and simple human decency (who IS able to figure out a way to play these kids) to take over.

wow u have no common sense

No let me keep it simple!!!!!
This is not flag football or Soccer This is a real man sport full contact football and yes they will get kids hurt if they dont know what they are doing out there or get other kids hurt you see it even in the pros been a coach 15yr see it done it if this was flag football or soccer I would understand ur point but u have no point and make urself look dumb we have been Champions for 14yr in a row so maybe u need to step down or get out of coaching and let another adult with the intelligence of ur simple human decency who can build and figure out away to play ur kids to have 14 state titles like me and 12 National titles like are crew we step on peeons like u that think u have the courage I asked u for advice about some kids that dont cut it how to tell there parents without hurting there feelings but u have clue how 2 thats all u had 2 say is I have no idea

Greg: Don't feed the trolls.

Greg: Don't feed the trolls.

Newsocdad - yes . . I shouldn't have gone there . . .

. . . .after a few years on this board it's just that you become accustomed to reasoned, intelligent discourse and then you have this. But you're right, I should have seen it and left it alone. Thanks!

ya u shouldnt have gone there

U have no clue son on what 2 say on it ur right u have been schooled!!!!! lmao

Just to put a wrap on this,

Just to put a wrap on this, I think bsamer is looking at it from a football stanpoint, and Greg K on volleyball. I think both are very different for obvious reasons. Yes, sure in football, you do need to have kids who know what's going on and will block, tackle and certainly could create safety factors for their teammates. Volleyball doesn't have near the physicallity or safety issues if a player isn't on the right page. On this topic, it truly is apples and oranges.

Common: Some kid trying to


Some kid trying to get a rise out of folks on a website. It's stupid and silly, The comments are obviously inane. Playing time in football is an interesting question and could raise an interesting discussion, but it would take an intelligent post to get the ball rolling.


Just to put a wrap on this,

Thank you Common Sense yes you do I see you get the point, people do get hurt if they dont know what they are doing, but how do you tell there parents maybe the kid is not cut it for the sport and not in a mean way?

At the tryout . . . .cut the kid . . .

. . .that might sound brutal coming from me but DON'T place a kid on your squad that you have NO intention of playing . . .ever.

I've never played football. I LOVE watching it . . .big fan. . . and I see that every team I watch play has a HUGE roster and tons of suited up players on the sideline. Not talking about professional players and even not talking about fully scholarshipped NCAA DIV I football players . . . .but talking about high school aged (and younger) football players. I REFUSE to believe there are players who go out for the team wanting and expecting to get NO meaningful playing time. So if, as was mentioned earlier, at that level (and younger) of football . . .if you truly have kids trying out who might be dangers to themselves or others . . .just cut them at the try out. Then the assumption would be that every kid on the roster is capable of playing. Of course, as I've ALWAYS said . . .play your better players more, but figure out a way to get your non-starters into some game . . . in some way.

Football IS different than so many other sports due to the inherent danger . . .I fully realize that. But this back and forth came about because I've been talking about playing time for players that a coach actually put on his/her team AFTER a tryout. For just about every sport my assumption is, at this point, that the coach thinks the selected kids are capable of playing the game at this league's level.

In football, if I know the average weight of the guys playing in my league (assuming youth leagues here) is 150 to 200 lbs. . . . . .you're right . . . .I'm NOT putting a 75 pound kid into a game! He'll get hurt! But better yet, rather than go through weekly disappointment for that young man and his parents . . .I just would have NOT put him on the team. And at the cut I'd walk over to his parents and tell them "I'm doing this for your son's safety. If he can gain 50-60 pounds in the off season in a healthy way, then, please, have him come out again next year."

This isn't tough stuff.