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Ask the Expert – Responsible Sports is Here to Help with Your Youth Sports Questions!

Brought to you by the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program


ateEvery week, Responsible Sports fans write in with questions about parenting, coaching and sports scenarios which they encounter in youth and high school sports. The questions are posted in the Ask the Experts forum and Responsible Sports then reaches out to their experts to help these parents or coaches.  

Visit the Ask the Expert archive or join the conversation on the Responsible Sports Facebook page today!

Here is an example of one of our latest questions from a Responsible Coach who wrote to our panel of experts to ask: 

"I am the new coach at a school with a very weak program. The number one problem we had this season was with attendance/tardiness. I have a good idea of how to clearly define the expectations. I struggle with consequences. I want to find something other than holding them out of practice or some kind of conditioning punishment."

- Jim, a concerned coach

We asked one of our Responsible Sports experts to weigh in on Jim’s question.  Eric Eisendrath, Positive Coaching Alliances’ Lead Trainer in the Boston and New York Areas, had this advice to offer:  

"Thank you for taking the time to write. My first suggestion would be to begin your practice with ‘something fun.’ So often we begin (at least in the kids' minds) with drills and other activities and save scrimmaging for the end as a reward. I have found it helpful, once everyone has stretched (thus avoiding injury), to begin with some types of shooting drills - power play, man advantage situations. Once late-arriving kids see that the other players are getting to shoot etc., they tend to throw their equipment on as fast as possible. 

"I would strongly resist the urge to use conditioning as punishment. Being highly conditioned is critical to team performance. The steps taken to become fit should be embraced, and not thought of as punishment. Sprints and pushups etc. are activities designed to ‘help us in the fourth quarter or second half,’ not because we are late or misbehaving. You really want to attach an appreciation for hard work and conditioning, as opposed to linking it to a negative emotion.

"Finally, instead of looking to ‘punish’ the players who are late, work to ‘reward’ the players who are on time, and doing the things you ask of them. When you announce your starting lineup, have it filled with the players who are on time. Reward the behavior you want, and through extinction, the behavior you don't want (i.e. tardiness and unexcused absence) will eventually disappear."


Are you a coach or parent who has a youth sports question you’d like to pose to our panel of experts?  Visit us on Facebook and ask your question today!  We regularly post answers on