Updated: Apr 6
I myself have been in this situation, and it is not fun. It can be disappointing and a challenging time. Here is a question that you may be asking yourself…
Stick it out or add another team?
Should my child be on a good team where he or she doesn’t play much, but there are better players, or a team where he or she plays a lot?
For some, there might be an obvious answer - to find a team where they can play, but that might not be the best choice. School teams are the time that your child will be able to have fun with his teammates. If the goal is for your athlete to become a better player, then playing with and against better competition is a must. Make sure that the coaching is outstanding, and that the goal is to improve each day.
If your child is not good enough to play on a top team, think about also playing on a lower level team such as a rec league team, so that he or she gets the freedom and outlet to put their new skills to the test, while getting outstanding instruction and experience (in practice) against superior competition.
By the time players are in high school, the best travel teams are sponsored by the shoe companies: Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, etc. If your son or daughter is good enough to be on one of these teams, you should do it. The positives are that you will not have to buy uniforms, shoes, or warmups. Your child’s hotel and airline fares are covered.
The negatives are that your child may not play if they aren’t one of the top players. That goes back to having your child play on another team where he or she does get to play, and then playing on the sponsored team as well.
If your child does decide to play on two teams, make sure that both teams know that you are on two teams. Maybe the compromise is that he or she practices with the better team and practices and plays games with the lower level team.
Is it ok to change teams?
Another word about travel teams: It's ok to change teams after the season to go to a new team. Don’t be that family that switches to a different team during the season. It leaves people in a bind and it's not a good look.
Parents, don’t complain to the coach about playing time! DO NOT!! I went through a difficult time at Purdue with the death of my close friend, and I also wasn’t getting as much playing time as I had the previous two seasons. My parents didn’t call the coach to demand that I play. It never works, so just don’t do it.
The best thing to do if your child isn’t playing is to encourage him or her to get better. It may sound trivial, but the coach thinks that others are better. Ask the coach what he or she can get better at.
If your child is middle school or older, he or she should be asking the coach himself. If you aren’t sure what drills or workouts that they should be doing, email me at email@example.com and I can help.