Kids Sports & Recreation/youth individual awards
I am the manager of a youth hockey team ( 7 and 8 yr olds ) and the parents are currently deciding whether to recognize individuals with medals of achievement or not. Most Sportsmanlike, most improved and most dedicated are the awards made available through Hockey Canada, and i would assume that if they were not suitable to this age category then they would not provide them. But, the parents are split on the issue. My question to you is... can recognizing individuals of a team have negative effects of the players who do not receive the awards? or is it just part of being on a team and acknowledging growth and development and commitment of some individuals a positive thing?
Hi Lisa, this is a tough question and a very common problem. It happens for all the sports and for most of the ages. I don't think there is a perfect answer. There are pros and cons for both sides and ultimately, the coach/parents/board will have to decide.
But to have awards for most sportsmanlike, most improved and most dedicated, I think that is very appropriate for the age of kids you have. Its not like they are giving "biggest hitter" or "most valuable". The awards being given encourage hard work and teamwork which is what youth sports are about. In my experience with kids, having this recognition will not have negative effects on kids who did not receive an award.
Have you thought about having the kids on the team vote? That gives them ownership of the issue. It can also be an educational moment. Discuss what each award means and the significance of it with them. Ideally, this could be done early in the season and mid-season so the kids are exposed to it frequently and learn it's importance.
Another option is to have all the kids get some recognition. They could get special certificates with what effort they put forth that was outstanding or special. It doesn't have to be much, but a few moments in front of the team and parents with a highlight of the season can be very positive. Perhaps you can do this, and then have the Hockey Canada awards be given too?
One final point, though not really part of your question. I think the EFFORT given is much more important than result. That's one reason I like the categories of medals. They reward the effort put forth, not the result or the successes. Effort should always be praised, not the success.
I hope this helps. If you have more questions, or feedback, I'd love to hear back from you.