At some point, youth sports become more about the team than about the players and spectators start including more than just team family members. As kids reach adulthood, an increased focus on team performance separates recreational players from the truly motivated ones. These players then feed the needs of competitive high school, college and professional programs. Until then, youth sports are more about developing motivation and talent than judging them. Parents facilitate their child's participation to help make their child better in life and to provide a chance at sports participation past puberty.
The selection of a good coach is a key way parents can help their child maximize his or her development as a person and a player. Before a season begins, it may be difficult to judge the technical skills of a coach. However, one quick test parents may use to size up a coach is to learn the coach's philosophy on equal playing time.
Equal playing time is hard for coaches to implement. It forces them to put more effort into practices and player preparation. It also tests their priorities. If a coach's priority is to win above developing players then parents should look elsewhere to give their child the best chances of playing later on. Equal playing time should be one of a coach's core beliefs and not easily discarded in the last minutes of a championship game.
Teams who practice equal playing time typically have more fun during a season since there are less conflicts over playing time between coaches and parents and among parents themselves. With everyone often making equal time and financial contributions, unequal playing time can quickly build resentments since parents cannot be an objective judge of their own child's talent.
When a child reaches the advanced levels of athletic play, parents will stop being able to demand equal playing time. However, isn't reaching these levels one of the goals and a key reason why parents should demand it while they can?