Dear Coach: As a high school basketball coach, how do I tell my shooting guard that I want to move him to small forward so that I can replace him with a better player?
Dear Trading: Don't be shy about making the switch, just tactful. "It's essential to be honest, but there's no need to overemphasize the obvious," says Michael Pfahl, executive director of the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. "Players at that age know their skill level, and they know how they match up with their teammates." Frame your decision as a challenge to the player to learn a new set of skills. Most important, control your team's reaction by making your motives explicit. "If you're underhanded or uncommunicative," says Pfahl, "players will draw their own conclusions."
Dear Coach: After being pushed in a jogging stroller for seven years, my daughter wants to get out and run with me. Is she too young?
THE RUNNING MOM
Dear Running: To paraphrase the movie ads, walk, don't run. "The most a parent should expect a seven-year-old to run would be a quarter mile, and even that's a lot," says Dr. Eric Small, a pediatric sports-medicine specialist at New York City's Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Kids run the risk of injuring their growth plates or suffering stress fractures in their shins or feet if they are pushed to go long distances." Start your daughter with brief runs, and let her do them only two or three times a week. When she starts getting used to running, you can begin stretching out the distances, but don't add more than 10% each week.