For many high schools around the nation, mid-March is the time when most teams start practicing for baseball, softball and lacrosse.
To better prepare for the season ahead, here’s a list of the top five questions for parents to ask coaches before the first game of the season:
1) Will an athletic trainer be present at all practices and competitions?
Injuries are a major concern at the high school level, especially in contact sports like lacrosse. As a parent, it’s important to find out the answers to all your safety concerns before the season begins.
Most high schools have athletic trainers with extensive first-aid and sports safety experience, but if your child’s school doesn’t have one, you should find out about the school’s emergency medical response plan in the event of an injury during a game.
2) What happens if my child misses a game or practice?
At the varsity level, missed games and practices are major no-no’s that often result in benchings or suspensions. To avoid being surprised later, it’s better to find out well in advance what the official policy is regarding missed time.
Sometimes things pop up in life that can’t be avoided, like weddings, family events, spontaneous emergency situations. Your child is bound to miss at least one game or practice during the season, even if it’s unexpected.
3) Will everyone have an equal opportunity to play, regardless of skill level or talent?
No one likes to sit on the bench. At the varsity level, and even at the junior varsity level, most teams will play their best players throughout the game, and only play the less-skilled athletes in the event of a blowout. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you or your student-athlete, find out in advance how the coach plans to balance the playing time.
4) What is your policy regarding student-athlete hazing or bullying?
Most coaches keep a close watch to make sure everyone on the team is getting along and on the same page. However, instances of hazing or intra-team bullying can easily happen if a coach isn’t keeping an eye on it. Parents might want to just ask a coach about their policy on the matter, as a little reminder and reinforcement for their child’s coach to watch for it.
5) What kind of equipment is required for the upcoming season?
As a sideline reporter, I covered a countless number of baseball games last season where the students had bats that weren’t the proper size/material for the varsity high school level. Before you spend a ton of money on new baseball bats or lacrosse sticks, make sure to double-check that they are the correct size and material for the league your child is in.
Eric Holden has been covering Long Island high school sports since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.