I recently had a conversation with a physician regarding his nine year old son, who is preparing to play tackle football this fall. The discussion revolved around what team his son was going to play for. The young man has been on the same team the past two years, but his parents were concerned about how much the coach was going to be using him and they were contemplating about changing teams. Unlike most situations I hear about, his parents were concerned that he was going to be playing TOO MUCH. The father mentioned that the coach had recently mentioned that he was really excited about this young man’s physical abilities, and that he would be counting on him to play most of the time at running back and linebacker to “help them win the championship”. Both parents were especially concerned about the physical toll this would take on their son, and also about how fair it would be to other kids on the team regarding playing time. The father mentioned that he was interviewing some other coaches, and found out that none of them were putting “winning the championship” as the priority. Even though these other coaches still wanted to win, they were more interested in teaching skills and fundamentals to these young men. Consequently, the father told me they would be changing teams and that he would explain their reasoning to the coach why they were making this change. Since fall sports are about to begin, this situation made me think about choosing the best team for your son or daughter. Obviously, kids get involved for several reasons: their friends are playing, their parents got them started, excitement from watching sports on television or at live events, the positive effects from exercise. There are lots of reasons to play. But, how do you choose the right team or coach? I think as a parent, take some time to speak with or interview the coach about their reasons for coaching. Find out about their background and history as a coach. What are their goals for the season? How much emphasis do they place on winning and losing? How important is having fun? How much emphasis do they place on learning skills? Are they good communicators? Do they have a son or daughter on the team and is their child the “star” of the team, the one that plays the key role and plays all the time. How often do they have practice and what is their opinion if your child has to miss practice? Do they have assistant coaches working with them? I believe these are all important questions to ask. Many times over the past 30 years, I have heard about situations where the parents do not agree with the coach, but allow their child to be on the team, and issues develop because of these differences, that often times in the end can have a negative effect on the child. I believe the parents should always make the final decision with their child about what team will be best for them and their child.