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PostPosted: 14 Feb 2010, 03:54 

Posts: 176
I'm coaching in a local park distric rec. league. 3rd and 4th grade boys. To be frank, the league sucks. I see two major problems: 1) No consistency in officiating and 2) No consistency in team talent levels. Question is how to fix the problems. I don't think the park distric cares -- they have a waiting list.

Officiating: I understand it is tough to find officials who want to work at this level. I understand you want to let the kids play. But it has become rediculous -- some refs call everything and some refs call nothing. It is like there is no communication with the officials as to what they should call. For example, some will call a "travel" everytime a kid suffles his feet. Some allow 3-5 steps. You would think if a kid gets hit in the face and poked in they eye more than once, there would be a foul called. Not necessarily. I won't even get into the "rebouding" which is more like a rugby match. The problem is that the kids are not learning to play the game. Since they don't get called for fouls, they "mug" people. Should they not have some type of "training" to let the officials know what they should and shouldn't call?

Talent: This is what really bothers me. There is absolutely no effort to achieve parity between the teams. Zero. Nada. So you end up with really lopsided teams. For example, I have a team of 10, with only 3 players who have played in the league before. Other teams have at least 5. Some teams have all the tall kids. Some have the players who can't even pass the ball 3 feet. So you have a league of 14 teams with 4-5 with all the wins and 4-5 with all the losses. Personally, I think the coaches should at least "rate" their players at the end of the season. Then these ratings can be used by the park district to at least try to create parity between the teams.

If I "complain" I know what the response will be -- wins and losses aren't the focus of the program and the kids are here to have fun. I am all for that. But how much "fun" is it to go out and get beat every game? How much "fun" is it to play teams with far superior talent? How much "fun" is it to get "mugged" by the defense? How much "fun" is it to explain to your kids that the other teams just has better players?

So how do you fix this mess? I am seriously thinking of not coaching anymore or even putting my kid into a different program (not that there would be any difference). Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: 14 Feb 2010, 13:03 
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I can feel your frustration - We have gone through this several times within this group of coaches..... frankly, it aggravates the H out of me!

What you are describing is a giant waste of time... kids aren't having FUN, they aren't LEARNING ANYTHING, THEY are getting FRUSTRATED TOO... and in the long run, they will end up HATING this game and QUITTING.

What IF you got the high school coaches in your area together to sit down with your league administrators to give them some guidance, and perhaps hold some clinics for the coaches and players. They all NEED some guidance.

Hold some tryouts and have a draft would be one way to alleviate some of these problems... how about having a blind draft... meaning the coaches pick all the teams WITHOUT them knowing which team they will get. Chances are they would work harder to make the teams a little more balanced IF they thought there was a chance that they would/could get a team with NO talent.... Just a thought.
Good luck.


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PostPosted: 14 Feb 2010, 20:13 
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I should have added... I doubt that most of them are having fun!
I could be wrong... you are there... what would you say?


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PostPosted: 14 Feb 2010, 21:31 

Posts: 176
Well the kids with 5 or 6 wins (6 games so far) are probably having fun. Those without a win or 1 win are not. The kids aren't stupid. They know when the refs aren't calling fouls -- they have the bruises and scratches to proove it. They know which teams have the "talent." They know which teams win every game.

I know my own son is not having fun. He works his butt off -- drags me to the gym 2 nights a week, practice one night, and then Sunday 8:00 am open gym where he plays pickup games. But come Saturday game time he knows we don't have a prayer. He hates it. He doesn't see the point in working any harder only to loose on Saturday. But, to his credit, he keeps grinding.

As for getting the high schools involved, I don't think that would work all that well. First, there are 3 high schools served by the park district. Second, the high schools alread have a "feeder" team (7th and 8th grades) -- which from what I understand is as much about politics as it is about basketball. It just might be too complicated.

Tryouts and a draft could work. At least they have done that in the 7th and 8th grade levels. But a lot of kids "skipped" tryouts because the coaches knew them and didn't want other to catch on to their skill level. There are also logistical and time issues with that. They cancelled tryouts this year.

I think a simple coaches evaluation and then an equal disbursement of players by the league director should work out pretty well. It is "blind" in that the coaches don't pick the teams so they will have no incentive to misrate them. My whole point is the attempt should be for parity. Right now there is zero attempt. I had a kid switched from my team (4th grader with experience) and replaced with a 3rd grader who has hardly touched a ball before. I don't think it was my kid who requested the change -- his parents confirmed attendance at the first practice. I got know answer as to why the change was made. I don't know why they wouldn't try to do a more equal exchange.

Unfortunately, I don't hold out hope that any changes will be made even if suggestions are offered. I know next fall when it is time to sign up, my boy is going to question whether he wants to do it again. Thanks.


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PostPosted: 14 Feb 2010, 22:22 
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You need to try something to help this program - how about a parents meeting with he director?

Why don't you get a few parents to sit down, form a committee and discuss some ideas - then meet with as many parents that will attend. Come up with a plan and then meet with the director.

Would it really be a waste of time to talk to the high school coaches... these kids are going to feed their schools... why wouldn't they have an interest? Have the committee go talk to the high school coaches and ADs.

You have to take the high road here and try to solve these problems.. otherwise your son might be one of those that quit this great game and do something else.


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PostPosted: 15 Feb 2010, 16:15 

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golf -

I hear you loud and clear. I remember as early as kindergarten/1st grade dealing with parents yelling at refs, refs allowing kids to be knocked down, league directors who never showed their face, kids with attitudes, coaches living vicariously through their kid, etc. Two seasons in and I was ready to give up on this whole coaching gig and youth sports in general.

Instead of trying to change the system, my assistant I decided we would build our own team of like-minded parents and kids. So, that’s what we did. By word of mouth and parent recommendations, we built a small community of parents and kids who share the same values and vision when it comes to youth sports. Let me tell you, it makes coaching fun and it has nothing to do with winning and everything to do with hanging out with people who get it.

We based it on attitude, not skill. Parents yelling at refs or kids thinking they were the superstar of the team eventually didn’t get asked back. We've had the same core group of 6 kids for the past 15+ seasons, playing flag football and basketball together. We have an additional 8 kids who join our b-ball and football teams to get them up to 10. Bottom-line: We've won championships and had our lunch handed to us, but overall we truly have fun in spite of the funk that goes on in the youth sports programs. It's quite a unique group with all the kids attending different schools and parents from various socioeconomic backgrounds.

I share that as a possible solution so you don’t quit coaching. It doesn’t solve the problem of teams who recruit all the best players or refs who think rugbyball is a sport. I agree with Sar here, meeting with the league director with some viable solutions could help. With 14 teams in your league, I see no reason why the league couldn’t be split into A and B teams based on skill level. You might have a hard time selling random kids on random teams at the rec level because most kids want to play with friends.

The whole ref situation could be addressed if the league director, refs, coaches and parents had a quick meeting. Unfortunately, the league director has to be on board for all this stuff. With a waiting list to play in the league, he/she might not see the need to go through all this hassle.

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PostPosted: 15 Feb 2010, 22:36 

Posts: 176
Coach Rob wrote:
The whole ref situation could be addressed if the league director, refs, coaches and parents had a quick meeting. Unfortunately, the league director has to be on board for all this stuff. With a waiting list to play in the league, he/she might not see the need to go through all this hassle.



I think you hit the nail on the head. The League Director is a nice enough guy, but I think he probably doesn't want to go thru the hassle. He is in a no win position -- everybody complains to him. If he tries to level the teams and it doesn't work, people will think he stacked his buddies team. Now all he has to say is I don't know. I am sure that his is also really busy. The leauge has 54 teams.

The parents aren't that bad, so far. But frankly, I almost had my "Bobby Knight" moment. I am generally a pretty easy going guy, but when a player smacks a kid in the face a few times on defense, I think a foul should be called. Not that the kid meant to hit him, but unless you call it he doesn't learn how to play defense.

As for kids playing with their friends, at least that would be a bonus. But, they don't allow friend requests -- so you don't get to play with your friends. There are probably 12 elementary schools and he puts 2 or 3 kids from each school on each team. Other than that, it is entirely random.

I'll probably offer up the suggestion of rating the players and at least trying to eqalize the talent. I am also look at a couple of neighboring programs -- both rate players and one even uses 8 players per team, instead of 10. Downside is there is a little more travel to practice and games. Thankfully, my kid is still grinding thru. Picked up a new basketball today and wants to head to the gym tomorrow to try it out. Thanks for your responses.


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PostPosted: 27 Feb 2010, 16:20 

Posts: 176
We'll it doesn't look hopeful for a change. A friend of mine had a sitdown with the director this week -- he works two min. away and had a parent issue to discuss.

They talked about talant, rating players, and team parity. The response -- "We have thought about it, but is only Rec. Ball." In other words, we don't want to be bothered, it is too much trouble.

I just don't think they get it. I am all for putting wins and losses way down on the priority list, but at this rate all they are doing is playing "organized" pickup ball. Today, they has a "scorekeeper" who didn't even keep score -- with an announcement to the fans that this was only a rec. game and the score didn't matter. Real cool. It was a close came (win by 2) with a great comeback by the winner. A bunch of kids working their butts off -- hustling, going to the ground, playing hard defense, running the floor -- putting everything they had into the 28 min. game. Yet the scorekeeper was asleep at the wheel and they acted like it didn't matter. Well guess what -- to those 10 kids who have put in 10 weeks of work this year -- It mattered. The kids didn't care about the win or loss after the game -- but gosh darn it, they certainly deserved the respect for the "adults" to do their jobs during the game.


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