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Emily Cohen
Emily Cohen

The Shoe Goes on the Other Foot -- For Real

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So this is what it feels like. To be yelled at while playing. To be told you're not good enough to be on a team ... by someone who's not even playing herself and isn't an expert or a true, certified coach -- just another player who wants to play certain people for a specific end that benefits her ego, not anyone else's real development.

I now know what it feels like to be that youth athlete trying his or her best, only to be yelled at by the coach or captain, who really doesn't know any more than most of the players. I now know what it feels like to be on the field, trying to read the game as best as she can, while someone on the sideline says, "she doesn't know what she's doing" or "she's not winning, so let's bench her" -- even though that person can't win themselves. 

I've written many blogs about the impact of parents' behavior on their children -- youth athletes -- and now I've experienced it myself. While it wasn't my parent, I experienced the effect of another adult's -- one in a position of power/superiority -- negative feelings about me, as a person, and the effects on my playing time. And it wasn't pretty. As a captain, she was able to do whatever she wanted: put whoever she wanted in the line-up, keep whoever she didn't like -- or whoever didn't kiss up to her -- OUT of the line-up. And everyone else just sat by, saying, "Well, she's the captain, she can do whatever she wants."

Can you imagine this with a youth sports team? I can't. There would  be a mutiny! Parents would point to the injustice and inequity. Demand the coach's removal. Etc. Etc.

Not so on the adult team. It's accepted as a fait accompli, because she's stepped up as a captain. With her own objective -- winning -- in mind, not player development or growth. Sound familiar, youth sports parents?

As an adult, I took action by joining another team, one that was more welcoming, positive, and focused on the players' development, not the captain's W/L record.

I got to thinking, "Youth athletes don't feel empowered to just change teams at will." 

But they should. What should youth athletes do when they realize that the coach/captain isn't going to give him or her playing time for some reason?

Find another team 

As every successful coach or player will say, playing time is key to success. That means you have to play in match/game situations as often as possible, and whether you win or lose is immaterial. It's the experience that matters.

Youth athletes should feel empowered to say, "This coach does not have MY best interests at heart and I need to find that team myself." It truly does not matter if the athlete has professional aspirations or not, the issue is live game or match experience for personal improvement.

It's obvious: no matter if you are a youth or an adult athlete, no one BUT YOU has your best interests in mind. If you are a youth athlete, tell your parent/s what you need or want from the sport. Find the right team that fits your goals. Ask your parents to help you get there.

If you are an adult, change your course or shift your destiny yourself. You can do it. Don't let anyone tell you that you aren't 'good enough' to play. YOU be the judge. 

Whatever you do, don't let someone else's goals or opinions impact your future.