Equal playing time is a major topic for discussion when talking about youth sports. While some coaches and parents, view it as a way to win games and develop only the most promising players, others don’t agree. They argue that playing sports at the youth level should be focused on the love of the game, not on achievement.
However, even with that attitude, there are definite benefits of equal playing time that make it a positive model of coaching young athletes.
It Creates a Balanced Team
Equal playing time in youth sports, especially up to the age of 12, is an integral part of providing every player with match practice. What they learn during practice and drilling has to be tried out in a real game environment so that each player can successfully adopt it.
It’s also more important for a coach training a team at this level to have the same roster and work with players to develop skills individually. Kids grow at different rates. A star-player with great talent and potential in one season might decline as other players start catching up. But a balanced team can rely on teamwork to overcome specific skill deficits.
It Reduces Fatigue, Burnout, and Injuries
When coaches only use one starting lineup, they run the risk of increasing fatigue and burnout for those players. Potentially, this can lead to injuries for the players with the highest game time, while the benched players might start leaving the team.
With equal playing time in youth sports, kids equally participate in every game. Frequent substitution and rotation of the lineups increases game time, experience level and reduces the risk of injury. It also gives the coach far greater tactical maneuverability when preparing for different games. It is especially useful during the height of the season when kids play both tournaments and regular league matches.
It Develops Healthy Friendships
Friendship is another positive side of the fair play. With everyone contributing to the team, it raises spirits and work rate and lowers jealousy and competitiveness among players. It can also help to create in-game partnerships, which benefit the game of the team.
For example, a partnership between a quarterback and offensive tackle means higher passing or running and more yards gained. In baseball, an interchangeable pair of pitchers and catchers can help the team surprise opposing teams with unconventional plays. While in basketball and soccer, this translates into more assists and shots per game.
What’s more, friendships on the field are quality relationships off the field as well. It helps each child find group acceptance, and helps them develop healthier social behavior.
It Promotes Fun Over Winning
Finally, equal playing time means everyone on the team is playing for fun and not for winning. It is an essential aspect of sports, as it improves the physical, psychological, emotional and social well-being of each player.
The Final Answer
So, should there be equal playing time in youth sports? Absolutely. It means that players receive the same support from their teammates, as the team does from the whole community. This type of sportsmanship among players, parents, and coaches is one of the main reasons League Network will continue to do everything it can to promote and help small youth sports organizations.