Youth Sports

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Case: Timmy plays little league baseball and youth soccer through his local park district. Timmy isn't very good at sports and likes spending his time playing video games. Timmy's coach only puts him in for 2 innings during baseball games and for only one fourth of the soccer game. Timmy feels like he cannot associate himself with the other kids on the team that get to play the whole game, he feels like they are too good for him. Pro Argument: Equal playing time for all kids in youth sports should be mandatory so all players will feel equal. Con Argument: Better players should get more playing time because they may have a chance of a future in playing sports beyond their youth. Response (Pro): What is the emotional impact on a child who consistently plays 1/4 of a game while the other teammates play the entire game? This question raises a broader issue. What is the fundamental purpose of youth sports? How should this purpose be reflected in practices and games? Granted we are raising somewhat of a philosophical issue here and probably a controversial one at that. We believe that the primary purpose of youth sports should be to teach fundamental sports skills in a non-threatening environment. That is, children should have the opportunity to learn new skills and improve previously learned skills and have fun doing it. Coaches must create an environment both in practices and games where children are not afraid to make mistakes. Using fear of failure as a motivational technique is unacceptable. Mistakes happen as part of the learning process. Children who hope to become better skilled so they can move on to more advanced levels of competition have to be willing to take risks and experiment with more advanced skill techniques and strategies. They will not do this if they are afraid of making mistakes. All members of any team come to the team expecting equal opportunities. They have the right to expect equal quality and quantity of coaching in practice. They all...
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