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I have been coaching 3rd & 4th grade girls basketball and volleyball and am experiencing a common problem that I would appreciate input from others. We play in a YMCA league that has minimum playing time rules. The problem that we have is attendance at practices and tardiness. In basketball we had 2 out of 8 players who attended every practice, 3 missed 5/9 practices. We played 3 games with only 5 players. Now we are in volleyball we have 8 players, 1 parent came to the first practice to tell us that her child had dance class during our practice time so she wouldn't ever be at practice but she'd be at the games, another told us that her daughter would only attend every other week so long as she didn't have a softball game on those nights, it turns out she has been only at 2 practices out of 8. Of the remaining 6 players all but one has missed at least one practice and or showed up late to practices and games. The last game we had to start with 4 players, two showed up 15 minutes into the game. During basketball I consulted with the Y who stated that the playing rules still applied regardless but that I could make a decision not to play this person until the second half or so. I haven't discussed the matter with anyone at the Y w/ volleyball but it is obvious that would be much more difficult to do especially on days when you have others missing, heck we'd be playing with 3 or 4 players if I imposed that. I'm all for playing time on kids who are learning but I feel it is extremely unfair for those who attend practice to be subject to the same playing time rules as those who do not. Now I realize that it is the parents who are the ones that control this situation and I would love to be able to tell these people that they are sending a very bad message to their kids that they will always be able to "play" and that practice is some how not important. It's like telling them that they don't have to study for a test because they will probably do well enough to just get by with a passing grade rather than allow them a chance to excel. In basketball they are at an age where we can start incorporating simple plays but I cannot imagine how difficult it would be when you have people who don't bother to show up. The last two volleyball practices we have had 3 and 4 players.. can't very well simulate a game situation with 3 players on the court. As a coach I am insulted that they parents think their time is somewhat more valuable than mine, I'm sure I could come up with plenty of other ways to spend my time on Monday nights, but I am volunteering my time to give their child a rewarding experience and they do not even have the common courtesy to call to say they aren't going to be there for what ever the reason may be. If the child is involved with other activites that conflict, then they should make a choice and stick with it rather than pull this juggling act that only hurts the players who are there every week.

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Tough situation and I understand your frustration. I think you have 3 choices.

1) Don't worry about it and practice with who you have, and play the kids according to league rules.

2) Go to the league and inform them that you feel the kids need to be held to a higher standard in order to learn and develop their life skills and are asking permission to modify the league rules in the future.

3) Quit and let someone else do it or look for another league to coach in.

Now choice 1 is the choice you can either do or can't do. I don't think I could, especially if my kid was the one that was committed to the team. Choice 2 leads to choice 3 if the leauge is too soft.

Remember many people use the Y as a cheap babysitter service. I think I would be inclined to tell you to go with option 2, but in the super-softie world we live in.... it will likely lead to 3.

Best of luck.

Coach Will

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