Minimum Play Players, Favoritism, & Parents

I planned to write about defense today, but I received an email last night which begs me to address minimum play players, favoritism and parents in today’s blog post.  My coaches and I rank our players each week and use these rankings to determine who will start and what positions they will play.  I develop a depth chart each week from these rankings.  I do not believe in favoritism.  Our players win a starting position based on intelligence, physical abilities, football skill and football knowledge.  Just because a player is a top starting player and plays a majority of downs, does not equate to favoritism, it equates to smart coaching.  Coaches should field their best talent.

In today’s youth sports, many coaches must weigh fielding the best talent and playing the minimum play players.  How do you weigh the needs of the team above the needs of one to three minimum play players (MPP) and their vocal parents?   This question frustrates me each week.  I want all my players playing every play of the game.  I want all players getting a good rest on the sidelines.  I want everyone to score a touch down.  But the reality is, this is not Drake and Josh afternoon TV.  Some players are not ready to play more than the mandatory minimum plays.  I want to win American Idol but I can’t hold a note.  Should the network force American Idol to allow me to sing at least once in front of National TV audience?  I doubt it.

But many MPP parent’s feel the coaches are playing favorites by not playing thier children more.  I am sure there maybe a minority of coaches playing favorites, but if your child can contribute to the team then your child will play more.  I’ll guarantee it.

One last point that I find surprising.  Why doesn’t anyone talk about the starter who must sit out while someone takes his place?  How do they feel?  Are they upset that we substituted a player in the game that does not do the work required to play the position?  Who is speaking up for the starting player and their feelings?

If I had one wish as a coach, I would wish that all the players on my team were starters.  Now that would solve my problem.  Although, I have 24 players on my team.  Hmmm, I needed to be more specific.  It’s always something!

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  1. My son is on the varisity baseball team. He has played for this coach for every seaon, fall ball, summer ball and regular season ball. He has never missed a practice, he is the first kid to volunteer to help clean up equipment and he is usually the last kid off of the bus after away games, because he stays after to make sure the equipment as been put away and the bus is clean. Yet, he NEVER plays. In a game last night, his team was up by 11 points and the coach put in all players except my son. The child who went into the position that my son usually plays, skips practice on a regular bases and has been caught bad mouthing the coach repeatedly. The biggest difference have been able to see is that the other boys parents paid for the speaker system on the field. Shoud we have to pay for equipment to get our son playing time???????

  2. My son has been riding the bench all season. He gets to come in for a play or two during a blow out. I thought for sure he would get opportunities in practice but while watching a 2 hour practice, he got in for 1 play, the rest of the time he was sent to exercise with another group while the 1st line practiced.
    After seeing this, I have started spending more time practicing with my son over the weekend. My son has vastly improved but if he’s not practicing, the coach will not get to see his improvement.
    Let ALL the kids play!

  3. Coach everything you have said makes total sense, but how do you justify coach putting in a talented player who doesn’t go to practice also while video practice by pure accident catching the same playing jumping up and down on the side lines with the football) faking injury still allowed to play?
    He’s not faster than other running backs they get timed so please explAin?
    We watch film after games no explanation why a faster runner is only put in once in a while? And starter is allowed 45 passes??

    1. Maybe bad coaching, who knows. The fastest players are not always the best runners in crowds because they must cut around players. In football one rarely runs a straight line. He might also remember the plays better than everyone else. He might run over players better too and not fumble. Sorry that I cannot help you more. Has your son spoken to the coach and ask why hes not getting game reps. Communication is key.

  4. Coach Parker,
    I just want to say from a perspective of a parent, it has helped me a lot to see the big picture and has given me more of an understanding of Coaches mindset. I am not an outspoken person but my sons current situation with playing HS scholarship kid before Myles sense now. It had stirred me up emotionally (to my surprise) my advise to my boys has always been be coach-able to coach period!
    I don’t agree but understand and I’m not about to make a fool of
    Myself or the team by insulting the coach, which would be totally bad for moral.
    My son was just offered a scholarship yesterday so it’s all relevant.
    You’re a good communicator, your honest and that’s what makes a greAt coach!

  5. I feel dumber for having to read the beginning dissertation on the title. No doubt it was wrote by a couch in defense. It should be a rule that couches are not couching the teams their children are on. This has always been a issue. Its amazing how their kids get all the best positions, most time in and are defended toward the children they do not like. This is absurd! The team moms defend their husbands who are couches no doubt and in the same favor their children on the field. They become bullies and should be non biased with all the children. Sports are suppose to positive for parents and children and more and more they pick their favorite’s!

  6. WOW! Number one rule in playing sports is about learning how to win and loose. The best little league coach develops ALL his players to their fullest potential. If you know who your starters will be before the 1st practice why bother taking anymore players besides your favorites? Sounds like they are just a headache for you. If your league doesn’t have tiered teams maybe you should have tryouts for your team. You referenced middle school, ours has A B and C team. 1st,2nd, and 3rd string with in the teams. If your league doesn’t have A B and C team and you take money and time away from the kids and their families then YES its your responsibility to coach each player to the best of their ability and give EVERY player more than the minimum play time. You know what you tell the “starters” sorry buddy but we have to develop all our players talents, not just the kids that have built a reputation within the league. All the kids paid the same amount to be a part of the team. If you want a team of only starters then only put starters on your team and let the MPP find a coach that believes in them and can bring out their hidden talents and is willing to let them play. I can’t believe their is even an acronym and a name for minimum play players. Goodness sakes called them 3rd string! Not you never be anything more than what your already are. And I wont do anything more for you than the bare minimum. Because “WINNING” with the already developed talent is so much more fun and easy on my part. Working with the under dogs takes time away from my pride and joy? You want to be remembered as the coach that won the most games? Or do you want to be remembered as the coach that made a difference in the life of a child? What matters more the wins or the hugs? It would be better to loose with honor and teamwork than win benching half the team for the majority of the game. The joy from winning is short lived and you can’t erase the damage that you wrote on all those kids heart. That they were never good enough to be winners.

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