Although in recent years rec level sports have been taking a back seat to club sports, there is still something fun and unique about this level. First of all, it is open to all athletes. Secondly, it is community-based, inherently building school spirit for the high school years. Lastly, rec sports focus on growth of all athletes and equality among them. Yes, there are A, B and C levels in most recreational programs, but these levels are designed to foster equal competition more than to limit involvement. As players progress through the ranks and levels of the recreational sports world, there is a multitude of valuable growth opportunities if we, as parents, give them the freedom to build independence and skill simultaneously.
Although a level of lacrosse I have never personally coached , I’ve been blessed with a multitude of talented, team driven, strong leaders for my children in this area of sport. As a parent, I’ve witnessed my children experience a broad spectrum of coaching styles, an experience that has allowed them to learn to adjust and adapt to every one. It is important to approach all levels of sport focusing on the process over the product, and rec sports allows the most and least capable athletes to do just that. Within the rec sporting environment, at even the youngest levels, let your athlete experience playing a position they may not like and cultivate in them an attitude of team contribution and role fulfillment. Encourage your athlete to communicate with teammates and coaches about the game, their abilities, their roles, as this will foster skills far beyond the field. Avoid trying to fix their frustrations and instead help them understand how to maneuver through them and play above them. Rather than shout instructions from the sideline, encourage creativity and mistakes as important components in both skill growth and understanding of the game. Use this platform of “team focused, all get to play” environment to allow the best and worst athletes to show you their inner drive to get better or their contentment with simply enjoying the game and their place among it. Help them understand there are multiple roles to fill on a team, and make them proud to fill the one they are given in that moment of that season. The more we focus on the growth and mindset rather than sideline complaints and efforts to “get it just right for your athlete,” the more we are building future success for our children. One year they may not be in the role they want—so be it—challenge them to embrace it and grow. The next year they may be in just the role they want— awesome—challenge them to lead through it and test their limits.
Respect the rec coaches and their process. Every single one volunteers their time and effort for your child because they care about the growth of the athletes and the growth of the game. When you want to critique, compliment instead. Because, in the end, it is the process that matters and the athlete’s ability to adapt and succeed in any role, with any coach, in any season. Let your athlete figure it out… guide them… but make the journey theirs. And thank the volunteers.. because if you aren’t the one out there putting in the time, then there is nothing the coach needs to hear from you other than “Thank you.”