Youth sports

Most young people tend to be disorganized and forgetful. Before heading off to school or practice, they’re usually rushing around at the last minute gathering everything they need.

Being prepared is a skill that teaches kids to be organized, responsible and punctual. In athletics, that means arriving on time (or earlier) for practices and games with all the necessary equipment. In school, that means being in one’s seat before the bell rings and having the right supplies and books. Proper preparation is a key to success in any endeavor; that’s why this is such an important skill for kids to know and use correctly.

Teaching this skill requires a partnership among coaches, parents and players. The coach’s role is to organize practice and game information so that players know where to be, what time to be there and what equipment to bring. Naturally, younger kids will have to share the responsibilities of getting ready with their parents, but as kids get older, they need to know when it’s time to leave the house for a game or practice, to be dressed for the activity and to have all the equipment ready to go. When young people can do this, they’ve taken a big step toward assuming personal responsibility.

1. Be on time.

In youth sports, there’s a ripple effect when players are late for practices and games. Other players have to wait around, coaches have to adjust practice and game plans, parents have to wait for late practices and games to end, and you might even have to forfeit a contest. When players are punctual, everything runs smoothly and efficiently – practices and games start on time and end on time.

At school and work, teachers and bosses expect students and workers to be on time. If they’re late or absent too many times, students can be suspended or expelled and workers can be fired from their jobs, that’s why being on time is such an important life skill. It helps kids become successful later in life too.

So, praise your players when they’re on time and correct them with teaching and consequences when they’re late. This helps kids see that showing up when they’re supposed to is important.

2. Pack equipment ahead of time.

When players forget their gloves, helmets, kneepads or any other equipment they need, it creates big headaches at practices and games. Coaches and parents have to scramble and search for equipment to borrow. In some cases equipment can’t be borrowed and a player can’t participate in practice or play in a game for safety reasons.

To make sure players have everything they need, it’s important that they organize and pack their equipment ahead of time. It’s the same as preparing their backpack the night before school or packing a suitcase before a trip. Players should include the items they’re required to wear (hats, uniforms, shoes, etc.) and all their gear (helmets, mouth guards, gloves, bats, balls, etc.). For some kids, especially younger ones, it’s a good idea to have them go through an equipment checklist while they’re packing. This helps them remember everything they need, and makes them responsible for getting the job done.

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Kevin Kush of Boys Town wrote this guest blog for momaha.comKush has been a teacher and coach for more than two decades and is widely recognized as an outstanding motivational speaker. He has been honored as an ABC News “Person of the Week” for leading his Boys Town High School team of at-risk youth to an undefeated regular season. He is also the co-author of "Competing with Character," where he examines the good and the bad going on today on youth playing fields, along the sidelines, and in the stands. "Competing with Character" is a guide to creating an environment where character, sportsmanship and fun are once again priorities youth sports. 

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