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Athlete, Coach, Parent

Avoiding the Question "Why Am I Not Playing" By Over-Communicating

Some athletes are unwilling to do the little things that make them better or make changes that are conveyed to them, either conceptually, mechanically, As a consequence, they are given minimal playing time, as they don’t know the concepts we are running. I understand if the players just want to be there because they love the game or for the social aspect. Our program does not cut players, so how do we handle parents who come to us wanting to know why their daughter isn’t getting more playing time in games?

Response by PCA Trainer Jason Buckley

Thank you so much for reaching out to improve the experience for all involved. When athletes participate on a travel or feeder team sponsored by the high school program, some difficult conversations down the road are possible. Many parents believe, “My child was a part of the feeder team, therefore, she has a right to playing time when she gets to high school.” Though it may not always be said directly, I have seen this thought process first-hand as a high school coach and athletic director.

The best thing you can do as a coach is communicate with the players, and parents as needed, providing consistent feedback to the players, starting with the first day of tryouts/practice. You can never go wrong with over-communicating. If you are upfront and honest about where they are at that moment, their areas of deficiency can be identified, as well as what it will take for them to earn additional playing time. I would encourage having an individual conversation with each of your players before the start of the season and lay it all out. In my experience, doing this minimizes, if not eliminates, the,“Why am I not playing?” question because you’ve had the conversation with them already.

In some instances, like with players who have invested time and money into the program over many years with little to show for it, it may be worth considering having the conversation with the athlete and parents before the season. I would let them know where you see the player today. For instance, “Maddie, as of right now I see you as the 12th or 13th player on our team. Where you are today doesn’t have to be where you are in a week, or a month, or a year. To move up, I need you to do XYZ. Are you willing to accept that role?” If so, great! If not, this may not be a good fit for the athlete.

As is the case with most things in life, it really comes back to effective communication. If you communicate regularly and honestly with the athlete, and the parents as well, when necessary, there is not much they can say other than they don’t agree with you.

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