Dear Coach: The star of my son's youth (eight-to 10-year-old) baseball league is a kid who has the strength and speed of a teenager; physically, he dwarfs the other 10-year-olds. I'm beginning to suspect his skills are too advanced. One of the other parents heard a rumor this player was 16! What should I do?
Dear Suspicious: Unless you've caught the kid talking about the Reagan years, you're probably off-base. Development experts point out that among children of that age there could be a variation of as much as 90 pounds and 15 inches. If you're convinced he's a ringer, ask an official to verify his age. Or suggest he move up a league due to his skill level. Chances are he'll take it as a compliment—like skipping a grade at school.
Dear Coach: I'm a 38-year-old business exec, and I like to play hoops on the town courts. Recently a female player began running with us. She's got a decent game, and she plays as hard as anyone. The problem is, I get squeamish when I have to guard her. And when she guards me, I get rid of the ball as quickly as I can. No one else seems to have a problem. What's wrong with me?
Dear Pressed: Get over yourself. She's neither a fragile waif needing protection nor a young seductress to avoid. "She obviously can hold her own," says Steven Edwards, a sports psychologist at Oklahoma State. "You need to get comfortable looking at her as a player rather than as a female." If you're still having trouble, tell her your concerns. Says Edwards, "I bet she'll tell you, 'Hey, bring it on.' "