435th Services, Ramstein AB - Youth Sports Program Informational Handbook - 2009 MISSION STATEMENT: Our sports program is community oriented and developed to provide an opportunity for youngsters, regardless of ability, to play, learn, and enjoy each sport. Adults participating in our program are encouraged to maintain this perspective in order to achieve our mutual objective, kids learning to play sports and enjoying the experience. PURPOSE OF YOUTH SPORTS: The youth program offers a wide array of organized sports activities for youth to help them develop desirable physical skills and to mature emotionally and socially. The sports program provides opportunities for children to have contact with other youths, volunteer leaders, and youth program staff. It also provides opportunities for parents to socialize with other parents and for adults to contribute to the Air Force community by serving as volunteers in youth programs. PROGRAM PHILOSOPHY: The philosophy of the Youth Sports program is to teach the basic skills which young people need to play various youth sports in a safe and nurturing environment, where all children get an equal chance to play regardless of skill level. Every child has the right to have fun while participating in the program, and we will not tolerate any abusive behavior that jeopardizes a child’s well being. DESIRED OUTCOMES: The outcome we desire to achieve thought the youth sports program is skill improvement by every child who participates, acquisition of assets, and a demonstrated reflection of fun through smiles, laughter, and newly acquired friendship. INITIATIVES THAT SUPPORT DESIRED OUTCOMES: All coaches and parents are required to “buy in” to the program philosophy and mission. By doing this they will put the kid’s needs first which will result in each child having a fun and positive sports experience. Initiatives include minimum play rules for each league, smaller teams, more opportunities for success through rule modifications, de-emphasizing of scores and emphasizing participation, fun, and teaching of basic sports skills. REVIEW COMMITTEE: The youth center has a commissioner for each sport program. The commissioner along with the youth sports director and the youth director make up a review committee. The committee will make decisions regarding discipline and rule violations using the mission, philosophy, and Air Force regulations to settle any league and program concerns or matters. TRAINING OF ADMINISTRATORS: The Youth Sports Director, our administrator has attended the Youth Sports Administrators Academy sponsored by the National Alliance for Youth Sports. Highly qualified experts in the field of youth sports and youth psychology teach this comprehensive training. In addition, the Youth Sports staff are qualified National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA) trained clinicians and are qualified to teach and train our coaches as NYSCA certified coaches. COACH/VOLUNTEER RECRUITING PROGRAM: An active volunteer coach recruitment program is utilized to recruit volunteers as coaches and assistant coaches for our programs. Once recruited all volunteers will be required to fill out a volunteer information form and be required to undergo a background check. DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES: In an effort to ensure all staff and volunteers are operating within the established objectives and goals of the program, a disciplinary procedure has been implemented. Volunteers must work within these established rules for the protection of our youth. Any violation of the established rules will result in various discipline actions depending on severity. All violations will be recorded and kept on file and proposed disciplinary action may range from a warning and additional training, or may be as extreme as expulsion. In cases of suspected child abuse or injury to a child, the individual will be reported to authorities for appropriate legal action. COACHES TRAINING PROGRAM: Coaches are trained using the NYSCA youth sports training program. All volunteers are required to attend this training which is offered several times throughout the year. Without this training, no coach may be allowed to coach a team of youth. This training covers the basics of child development, psychology, safety, first aid, and coaching skills. GAME OFFICIALS AND TRAINING OF OFFICIALS: Currently 435th Services Youth Sports Program utilizes contracted certified official associations who provide trained and certified officials. In some cases, however, the youth center uses volunteers or staff to officiate games and contests. PARENT TRAINING: A parent youth sports guide is available for all parents. In addition all parents registering children in our program must sign a “Parents Code of Ethics” promising to uphold the objectives of the youth sports program, support their child, and uphold the highest standards of sportsmanship. Coaches are required to hold parent meetings throughout the season to keep parents up to date on the team, season, and their child’s progress. PARENT TRAINING PROGRAM/HANDBOOK: The youth sports program makes available to each parent a parents guide that covers the following areas: Philosophy of Youth Sports, role of the parent, role of the coach, how to discuss concerns, providing assistance, program goals, providing positive reinforcement, role modeling, expected parent behavior, and getting more involved in your child’s youth sports experience. DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE FOR PARENTS: Parents are expected to abide by the Parents Code of Ethics throughout the season by practicing good sportsmanship at all times. The sports staff will also ensure all parents are acting appropriately by issuing “warning” cards to parents who are acting inappropriately at games. In extreme cases an “ejection” card is issued that warns the parent to leave the facility or have the military police called to escort them from the facility. PROVIDING A SAFE PLAYING ENVIRONMENT: The youth center staff will ensure all areas are safe for children to play on. Pre and post season inspections are done at all facilities and continuous upkeep is scheduled. Parents, coaches, and players are asked to assist in this effort by reporting safety hazards, by picking up litter, debris, and items that could pose potential safety risks to participants. Every child has a right to safe playing conditions; therefore prompt action is requested to report any safety concerns to the youth center staff. SAFETY AND RISK MANAGEMENT: The following written guidelines are provided to ensure all participants in the youth sports program are at the lowest possible risk of injury, safety concerns, and have the highest potential for enjoyment in their youth sports experience: BANNING OF RAPID WEIGHT LOSS/GAIN SOLELY FOR PARTICIPATION IN YOUTH SPORTS: Under no circumstances will any Air Force youth sports program be offered which requires pre-determined weight limits or encourages unhealthy weight loss or gain in order to participate. (Example: wrestling programs that uses weight categories or a football program with weight limits). PUNISHMENT OF OPPONENTS THROUGH PHYSICAL CONTACT OR EXCESSIVE SCORE DOMINATION: Under no circumstances will coaches or players attempt to inflict punishment (physical, psychological, or emotional) by excessive physical contact or by purposely running up a score to humiliate the other team.) In addition, no coach will punish a player by forcing him or her to run, exercises, or do physically exerting activities as means of punishment. PROHIBITION OF SINGLE SPORTS SPECIALIZATION AS A CONDITION OF PARTICIPATION: Neither the league nor its coaches will require any child to limit his or her sports participation to a single sport as a condition of participation. In other words a soccer coach cannot require his players to only play soccer during the year as a condition of being on his/her team. Also no league within the sports program can require sports specialization. In addition to prohibiting sports specialization, coaches should not attempt to label a child as a “shortstop, pitcher, catcher, attacker, defenseman, etc. Coaches and parents should encourage children to play and learn a variety of positions for each sport the child participates in. LIMITED COLLISION POTENTIAL FOR YOUTH UNDER THE AGE OF 11: The youth sports program will ensure that the league rules are modified in such a way to ensure there is limited collision potential to each child. RULES THAT SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE CHANCES OF INJURY: Rules will be modified in all age groups to ensure that chances of injury are greatly reduced. Tee-ball, for example, will use safety balls to cut down on injuries by players being hit with the ball. In addition, low injury potential increases the likelihood that youth will learn proper techniques and not be afraid of the ball. WEIGHT AND SKILL GROUPING OF CHILDREN: Children will be placed in groups or teams according to his or her skill level. In cases where a child’s size or weight is a safety concern for the child or other children in the program, the youth center staff maintains the right to move a child up or down a division to ensure the safety of all players. REQUIRE COACHES TO APPLY PROPER PRINCIPLES OF CONDITIONING AND NUTRITION: Coaches, as part of their responsibilities, must ensure his/her players are following proper principles of conditioning and nutrition. The coach’s manual, available at the youth center sports office, has several conditioning and exercise routines that can be followed for young athletes. In addition all coaches should be encouraging their player’s to eat nutritiously at home. Snacks provided for games and practices should be nutritious for the youth. Fruit slices, oranges, fruit juice, water, nutri-grain bars, etc are acceptable snack foods. Parents and coaches should stay away from “junk” foods such as cakes, candy bars, chips, and other high-fat foods as well as drinks with a lot of sugar such as “kool-aid” or sodas. INSPECTION OF PLAYING FIELDS: It is the policy of this organization to conduct a thorough safety inspection of all playing fields prior to the start of each season. In addition daily walkthroughs and periodic inspections are done throughout the season. EQUIPMENT DESIGNED TO ENSURE INJURY REDUCTION: Whenever possible equipment and supplies purchased for the youth sports program meets age requirements and designed to reduce injuries. SAFETY INSPECTION OF ALL EQUIPMENT: All sports equipment is inspected before the start of each season to ensure it is safe and in usable condition. When equipment or facilities are found to be unsafe, please notify the Youth Sports office immediately. FIRST AID KITS: All coaches, when needed, are provided with a first aid kit. Kits are not provided when all practices and games take place at the youth center where a first aid kit is always on hand. All youth sports facilities will have a first aid kit on site for emergency use. FIRST AID/EMERGENCY/WEATHER PLAN: Emergency’s require prompt and quick action by leaders. All staff, coaches, and other adult leaders should be ready for and should anticipate any type of emergency. Colorado in general and the Air Force Academy in particular can be hit with severe weather most any time of the year. Tornadoes, floods, lightening, blizzards, as well as airplane accidents, and other vehicle accidents could occur at any time. Each adult leader should have an evacuation play, emergency plan, and be prepared to administer needed first aid. The youth center can provide any leader with emergency plans upon request. UNSAFE PLAYING CONDITIONS: The youth center will cancel or postpone any game, practice, or sports event when it is determined to be unsafe for use. In the absence of a youth center staff or administrator, coaches or officials should use common sense and consider the safety of players, parents, and coaches in determining if fields are safe to play on. Under no circumstances will fields be used when there is thunder or lightening in the vicinity or when there is any other condition that would increase the chance for injury. CPR TRAINING: It is the policy Air Force Youth Programs that all paid and volunteer coaches and instructors participating in the youth sports program have current certification and CPR and must be prepared to respond to emergencies that may occur during practices and games. Prospective volunteer coaches/instructor must show proof of current certification before they will be considered as coaches. LIABILITY INSURANCE FOR ORGANIZATIONS USING AIR FORCE FACILITIES: The youth center requires that any organization desiring to utilize youth center facilities provide proof of a liability insurance policy. ACCIDENT INSURANCE FOR ORGANIZATIONS USING AIR FORCE FACILITIES: The youth center requires any organization desiring to use youth center facilities provide proof of an accident insurance policy. AGE LIMITS/RESTRICTIONS: The age restriction for youth sports programs is spelled out in AFI 34-801 para. 1.9.2. Youth Sports programs are designed for children ages 5 – 18. Programs are offered for youth under the age of 5 but are limited to developmental programs with no competition. Youth who reach the age of 19 are no longer eligible to participate in youth sports programs. In addition, any youth 18 years of age who is active duty military is not eligible to participate. STANDARDS: Air Force Youth Sports utilizes the National Standards for Youth Sports. Leagues, under these standards, are operated using specific guidelines as follows: 5 & 6 YEAR OLDS: Coaches are permitted on the playing surfaces. There are no regular competitive teams. Scores or standings are not kept. 7 & 8 YEAR OLDS: Rules, equipment, and the field are modified to match the Informal teams are used. abilities of the players Scores or standings are not kept Uniforms are limited to T-shirts and hat. Rules, equipment, and the field are modified to match the There are no scheduled leagues, tournaments, or all-star abilities of the players competitions. Limited uniforms are provided. Leagues and coaches are not permitted to require sports There are no scheduled leagues, tournaments, or all-star specialization. competitions. Play is co-recreational. Co-recreational play is encouraged. No travel is involved Travel is within the local community only. Coaches are permitted on the playing surfaces. Leagues and coaches are not permitted to require sports Leagues and coaches are not permitted to require sports specialization. specialization. 11 & 12 YEAR OLDS: 9 & 10 YEAR OLDS: Expenditures on uniforms for appearance reasons are Scores are kept but standings are de-emphasized. minimized. Rules, equipment, and the field are modified, where necessary, Limited ability groupings are use following proper grouping to match the abilities of the players. procedures. There in no out-of-community post season play. A variety of positions and situational plays are encouraged. There is no national tournament participation. PREPARATORY INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM: 435th Youth Sports offers a developmental sports program for youth and parents to prepare them for organized sports program. This program teaches children the basic skills of each sport in a fun and informal format. There are no teams and children are taught to play and enjoy sports in a non-threatening atmosphere. MINIMUM PLAY RULES: Every league within the Air Force youth sports program will have specific minimum play rules. As a minimum every child will be required to play ½ of each game where time periods are used such as basketball, soccer, etc. When innings, rounds, or score is used to determine the length of a game, every effort must be made to play each player equally or ensure that over the course of several games, each player has the opportunity to play the equivalent of ½ of each game. AGE RANGES OF SPORTS LEAGUES: Whenever possible a youth sports league will have no more than a 2-year age range such as 5 &6, 7 & 8, 9 & 10, etc. In cases where there are not enough players to conduct a league or form a team every effort will be made to keep the age range as small as possible. POST SEASON PLAY: Post season play is limited only to regular season teams. No elite or “all-star” teams may be formed. No “out of community” post season play is authorized for any teams with ages 10 and younger. AWARDS: Only participation awards may be given in the youth sports program. Awards for 1st place, for example, are not authorized, as it tends to put improper emphasis on winning instead of participation and fun. Sportsmanship awards may be given and awards that reward hard work, determination, and other positive attributes. However all youth should be given some sort of participation award. General Agency Policies: PARTICIPATION IN SEVERAL PROGRAMS: 435th youth sports encourage youngsters to participate in a variety of youth activities in addition to the child’s particular sports program. This will ensure a well-rounded recreational/educational experience and do far more to prepare each child for adult life. The development of numerous assets is critical to developing successful adults. PRACTICES: Practices will be limited to no more than 1 hour a day and three days a week through the age of 12, and no more than 1½ hours and four days a week through age 16. Coaches violating this limit will be subject to removal. EXCUSED ABSENCES: Sports is only one part of a child’s life and no coach shall punish a child in any way if he or she misses practice or game due to family related activities and events such as church, school, and other family activities. These will be considered excused absences and may not result in punishment to the child such as less playing time, extra practice, physical punishment (laps, pushups, etc.). OPEN PARTICIPATION: It is the policy of 435th Services youth sports program that no child will be excluded from the league due to his or her race, creed, sex, economic status, financial ability to pay, or ability. RECRUITMENT OF QUALIFIED MINORITIES AND WOMEN AS VOLUNTEERS: There will be no discrimination in any way of qualified individuals to coach and volunteer based on creed, race, or gender. The program will attempt to select coaches from those qualified who resemble the cultural and racial make up of the community and participants in the league. ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES: All administrators, coaches, officials, and parents must refrain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal substances at any youth sports event. Violators will be removed from the program. EVALUATIONS: In an effort to continually improve the quality of our programs, parents are asked to complete an evaluation at the conclusion of each sport program. This will allow parents to have input to the program and give them a vehicle in which to make suggestions, comments, or express concerns. In addition, each player will be asked to fill out an evaluation of the sports program they just participated in. VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION: The youth sports program will conduct a volunteer appreciation program at least once per year to recognize it’s volunteers and the contribution made to the program and in the lives of the youth.