Friday, April 27, 2012

Youth Sports: Two Sport Athlete Overcommitted (Part 1)

Is it fair to commit to two different teams in the same season? Fair to the respective coaches, fair to both sets of teammates, fair to other parents who spend a lot of money to be on a team with high expectations?

My two sport athletic daughter is over-committed and her basketball coach is not happy about it. I don't know what to do about it. Over the next several posts, I am going to think through the problem. I am not a fan of specialization at age 11, but we obviously need to address the situation to be fair to her teams.

Last year, CC found out that a soccer teammate named Mel played both AAU basketball and elite soccer at the same time. CC loves basketball and wanted to do the same. I found it hard to believe that you could do both, but I promised to investigate it. I asked the Mel's dad about it. He told me that they have been handling it with relatively few conflicts. He also mentioned that Mel's basketball team was holding a tryout over the next two weekends.

I looked at the basketball tryout schedule for first weekend and realized that we wouldn't be able to make it due to an out-of-town soccer tournament. That should have been my first clue. I looked at the second weekend and as bad luck would have it, my daughter had a soccer game 60 miles away from the basketball tryout. At first, I did not think we could do both, but I figured out that if the soccer game started and ended on time, we could possibly make it to the basketball tryout 5 to 10 minutes late.

It was a rainy day and I was hoping that soccer was going to get canceled, but it didn't. Fortunately, it was raining so hard, that the refs decided to start the game early and cut half-time short. This gave us an opportunity. Unfortunately, the rain snarled traffic and slowed us and we arrived at the tryout 50 minutes late. That should have been my second clue.

CC took the floor with complete confidence and I took my place on the bleachers. I then did a quick count of the number of girls on the court vying for 10 spots. There were 44 girls. After missing the entire first tryout and 50 minutes of the second, I figured CC's chances were slim to none. I thought to myself, that it would probably be for the best.

After the tryout, I told CC how proud I was of her for confidently jumping right in there. I told her that she can definitely play at that level, but that the chances of being noticed during the last 40 minutes were not good.

The following night, I got a call from the coach. CC made the team the team for the winter. We were also informed that another tryout would be held in February for the AAU National Tournament team.


We accepted the invitation to play on the winter team. CC's soccer team competed in Futsal in the winter, but the winter season for soccer is pretty laid back. CC only missed 3 of 20 Futsal games due to conflicts.

In February, CC made the National Tournament team and we accepted. To my surprise, Mel decided to decline her offer. Her dad thought it was too much. WHAT??#@%@ He convinced us that it could be done. That should have been my third clue.

Well, thanks to a lot of rain last spring, most of the weekend soccer games were rescheduled for the weekdays. And thanks to luck, the 5 basketball tournaments were on different weekends than the 3 soccer tournaments. CC did not miss any soccer games (19) or any spring basketball games (49).

The Main Point

An 11 year old athlete should not have to specialize in one sport, but it is so difficult to do in this over the top youth sports world with year round teams.

This year is a different story all together. It has not rained much this spring and there are lots of conflicts and the basketball coach is not exactly happy. More in the next post - including a letter from the coach.

16 comments:

  1. We are living this very issue right now. My 11 y.o. is playing on a top soccer team, as well as an AAU team this spring. We told the AAU coach that soccer was the priority, and she is pretty OK about it. K is averaging 12 hrs of practices plus a soccer game every week, and a bball tournament every other weekend. When she misses a soccer practice she feels guilty, and when she misses a bball game, she feels even worse, and her playing time is reduced for the rest of the tournament.

    We just told the bball coach we are missing the out of town Memorial Day tournament to attend the local soccer tournament. We will see how things go between now and then.

    I really think K will stick to the local drafted league winter basketball, and skip AAU next year.

    I look forward to hearing how you and CC resolve this issue.

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    1. Guilt is a powerful thing. My daughter feels it too. I am glad that my daughter feels a sense of commitment, but an 11 year old should not have to feel guilty.

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  2. My eleven year old son tried this spring to play for a club soccer team while also playing on a rec lacrosse team. We live in Baltimore, where people take lacrosse very seriously. My son thought that he wanted to play soccer year round and because he initiated the decision, I had him try out for Pipeline Soccer Club. He made the team and we quickly found ourselves at four practices a week--2 for Pipeline and two for his lacrosse team. He also was playing games all weekend, with little time for friends or sleepovers. He finally scored a goal for his soccer team and it was right after this game that he said to me, "You know how you always tell me that if you aren't having fun, you shouldn't be playing the sport?" I told him I still believed that. That it was a game, not a job. "Well," he said, "I am not having fun playing for Pipeline." We talked a lot that evening about why he was not having fun--the professional coach who was 21 years old, the kids on the team, the time commitment with lacrosse. I let him pull out of Pipeline, which is something that I rarely let any of my three children do. But I feel like I learned an important lesson: Eleven is too young to be playing a year round sport. Club teams pressure parents and children to play the sport all year when in reality I truly believe kids are happier and healthier when they play three seasons--at least through middle school. The time commitment required for a club soccer or lacrosse team for an eleven year old is insane. Mark Hyman is my hero and I think about his books, both of them, all the time now when I am making decisions about my third child's involvement in rec and club level sports.

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    1. This is not the first time that we have been in this situation - my son was also a two sport athlete - There were times when quitting was discussed - We have a rule that if you start something then you need to finish it. We are trying to teach commitment - yeah right - letting son or daughter join two teams is not exactly full commitment is it? I can hear it in your writing that you struggled with the quitting decision. I guess we both have to remember that they are 11 - in the overall scheme of life youth sports is not as important as we make it out to be.

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  3. We will be facing a similar issue this Australian summer with major swim and athletics meets clashing. I think 9 years old is way too young to have to make the choice between two sports my daughter loves, but we will probably have too. These are mostly individual sports and we don't have an obligation to a team and coach as you do...I wish you the best of luck for your decision and I will be reading with interest!

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    1. I love when you add the down under spin to things - thanks

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  4. Great topic! My 9-yearold son is also in a similar situation with an AAU basketball team and a city baseball league. The games don't conflict so much, but the practices do! I'm definitely interested in how you resolve it and so curious about the letter you got from the coach!

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    1. Last year - basketball practice and soccer practice were both on Wednesdays at the same time. I worked a deal with the soccer coach to allow my daughter to train with the older team on Tuesdays so she was still getting her work in. She went to basketball practice on Wednesdays.

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  5. We are in the same boat, I have an 11 and 13 year old that are playing both travel basketball and travel baseball. Many of the boys teammates on both of thier travel teams also play more than one travel team/sport. I'm anxious to read what you have to say next about this subject. I will say, on my 11 year old's travel basketball team we have had two boys back out who had committed and already played two tournaments. They are a big loss to the team and a great dissapointment so from the perspective of a parent on the other side of the issue, it has been very frustrating to have our team let down and our coach now scrambling to try to find two more players. I guess I would say that as parents we should really try to weigh out the issue before committing so as not to be put in the position of needing to pull our child out. That being said, I understand sometimes we think things will be one way and they end up another. For the most part we have had very few conflicts but the teams my boys play on try to have at least 4-6 players on the bench so that we can accomodate a players missing here and there.

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  6. Will comment more after I read a few more posts. Have already done so on twitter. Coached a kid at the AYSO/rec level in soccer who played club basketball. My one Friday night practice conflicted with his club basketball practice. Mother made a comment to me before the season that we've got a problem. Told her that we don't have a problem, that I come from a basketball background and that the training he's receiving in basketball transfers to soccer fairly easily (both are invasive sports). Didn't mind him missing practices because I could coach him during the games and he had the athleticism, instincts, attitude and competitive drive to make a difference on game day. I once coached a girl who showed up for exactly two practices. Had church conflicts. One of my better players too - was practicing soccer with her school team, so she was getting some training. At the youth soccer level, I find that kids who have an athletic background can play off each other easier in soccer than basketball. Chemistry is important in all sports, but basketball is a tougher game to play than soccer at the youth levels.

    I'm in agreement with your point about sports specialization, but I think you're barking up the wrong tree in thinking the conflicts posed by playing two club sports means you can't pursue the objective of playing multiple sports in the middle school years. Suggest you dial it down. Select one club sport & play the others on a recreational level, at school, in summer camp situations, on the playground (old school way - good luck finding a run). By the way, the kid I talked about had a great sports experience with our team. Best team I've ever coached at youth level & he was an integral part of the team. Just a dynamic athlete with a selfless attitude. Loved coaching him.

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  7. "We would all be better off if we mastered the art of saying “NO”; We often regret saying 'yes'."
    Coach George Raveling - from his blog post - "Inside Coach Rav’s Head:"
    http://coachgeorgeraveling.com/inside-coach-ravs-head-5/

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  8. Clarence I appreciate your wisdom.

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  9. girl play same sports game , i think it will be give them more strongger body and some muscle

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  10. The children who play sports get more chance of meeting and interacting with people of similar interests and make new friends, this boosts their confidence. guarantor loans

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