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This past September my son tried out for the local travel AA midget ice hockey team. We were shocked that he made the squad. For the first couple of months he competed quite well. About a month ago his ice time started to dwindle drastically to where it has now become the norm for him to play only 2 minutes or so a game. As a father I am at a loss for how to treat the issue with him and with the coaching staff. So what I do is simply to reinforce the notion of still working hard in practice and his time will come.
At the beginning of the season we were told that winning would not be a priority over development While participating this past weekend in Silver Sticks the shift rotation clearly dictated WIN at all cost. I am starting to believe in the notion that the team my son made is out to clearly WIN in spite of learning and getting better as the season progresses.
In addition the kids who get the bulk of the ice time tend not to be regulars at practice. What should I do? Concerned Father
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Concerned Father: I have empathy for your son as I have been in the same position regarding ice time/playing time. It's a difficult time, especially if you love the game and think you can make a contribution to the team's success. And I know my father has been just as concerned about me as you are about your son. I encourage you to see the initial two articles in my October Newsletter (www.danbylsma.com/newsletter32.htm) on equal ice time on my position on equal ice time and the last article in the November Newsletter (www.danbylsma.com/newsletter33.htm) about not getting playing time.
I suggest your son approach the coach and ask for a private meeting. In the meeting, indicate that he understands that the coach is making personnel decisions that he thinks will help the team win. Your son should say he would like to make a bigger contribution to help the team win and ask what must he do to improve so that he can make that contribution. Then work on those things. It will show the coach the boy is passionate about playing and willing to work to improve. Then when he does get his chance to play, do the best he can.
If as you say, you were led to believe that this was to be a developmental program (at least at the beginning of the year) and as you say there are players who don't come to practices and yet get more than their share of ice time, those are integrity issue that you have every right to address with the coach as a parent.
If there are other parents with the same concerns as you, perhaps some additional parents at your meeting with the coach would be valuable. Most likely the program needs your money as much or more than your players.
As the kids get older (and Midgets is getting up there) there is typically more emphasis on winning and playing to win than on development. That's not to say that it's out of the realm of youth sports where there should be a strong element of fairness in how the kids are treated.
I think the only reason kids should play youth sports is to have fun, develop their athleticism, and learn valuable life lessons. There is a valuable life lesson or two here that you have a wonderful opportunity to teach. One is that if something in your life is not to your liking, you can take the initiative and do something about it. By going to the coach, he will be learning how adults go about solving interpersonal relationship issues. Also, that if you want something bad enough and it's worth having, it's worth working for. Very little in life comes without a price and in this case the price is hard work and perseverance.
I hope this is helpful.
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