Some balls are awarded for charity, and some for fancy play…
You readers out there haven’t sought me for advice yet, so it looks I’m going to have to give it unsolicited.
Today’s advice is about awarding game balls. As with many things youth sports, a well-meaning and innocent attempt to recognize individual effort can turn into a maelstrom of bruised egos and angry parents. Not to mention, it can get expensive. Not so much in tennis, but a little more in football. I spent more than $100 to get small game balls for my first team, a first- and second-grade coed team.
I wouldn’t recommend blowing your Starbucks money on game balls. In fact, I would recommend not awarding them at all. You can always made an individual comment to a child about a good game. The kids know who is playing well and who isn’t. Usually, your team doesn’t have a separate child giving an MVP performance every game.
However, if you insist, I would recommend the following steps: tell the parents that you will be doing this, and that every player at some point will get a ball. Tell them that the game ball represents not necessarily the star of the game, but reward for a player who went above and beyond his or her usual performance. Tell the players receiving the game ball should not be a goal in and of itself, but if it inspires them to concentrate more and be a better player and teammate, then whatever floats yer boat.
By the way, a lot of advice I’ll give involves informing the players and parents of what you plan to do before you do it. It’s like how Suze Orman always brings it back to not spending money on stuff you don’t need. Like game balls.
But they’ve got the biggest balls of them all.