Recently I wrote a post about how good coaches make all difference for young ballplayers. Now, the other side is how parents make all the difference for their kid. This can apply to all sports, not just baseball.
A huge issue I see with youth baseball are the parents that ruin the game for their kid. Mike Matheny, former MLB player and now Manager of the Cardinals, talks about how parents should be a silent, constant source of support for their children. (The Matheny Manifesto.) I agree with this statement and have been very fortunate that my parents are like this for the most part. I have seen so many parents ring their kid’s neck if they make a mistake, error, or poor at bat, causing them to literally cry. I have seen parents leave the field in disgust if their precious player gets benched for any reason. I have seen decent players doing well and enjoying the game until their father arrives and stands behind the plate to “help” them — and then the meltdown begins. I have even seen parents punishing a kid when they didn’t do well as well as bribing them to do better. I have felt sorry for certain players that have to ride home with angry parents. When a kid literally fears his parent during each moment of the game, why bother playing if it’s this stressful? Baseball is supposed to be fun! Mike Matheny also tells parents in his book not to even say things like, “You got this. Get a hit here bud!” This only will add stress for a kid as well. It is fine for parents to coach their kids in their free time, but don’t over analyze it to a point where your kid gets frustrated and doesn’t enjoy playing with you. Your kids are NOT in training, they ARE in their childhood. Some of my best memories are going to the park and hitting balls with my Dad and watching my mom who is an ace at shagging balls in the field. My dad will say something when he sees something wrong, but not constantly correcting everything wrong. Statistically, your child’s baseball career will end in high school, if not sooner. So, parents cheer for your kids when they do well, but please let them just play their game and don’t live your dream through them! This is not about you……
Let the coaches coach. We all know that helicopter parent that always talks to coach about EVERYTHING. The parent may be questioning decisions the coach made, complaining about playing time, position, and spot in the batting order. Doing this in front of the players undermines the coaches authority. Coaches and kids hate these types of parents. I have noticed that these types of parents tend to have either the cocky jerky kid, or the super shy self conscious kid. The cocky one thinks he is above all players and is often uncoachable, and the shy kid will cower with embarrassment, feeling uncomfortable with his parent constantly offering their two cents. If you need to speak to the coach, do it privately, not right after a heated game.
Parents, I know most of you mean well and have the best intentions. But the “wrong” type of “helping” will often have the opposite of your desired outcome. Instead of helping, you are often planting seeds of doubt. Your coaches can correct their swing and their throw, but may never be able to remove their doubts. As parents, you can contribute to your player’s mental framework by offering a positive atmosphere to support their passion for the game. Make happy memories……..
Thoughts? Comment below or……
Tweet me; @BleacherBoy10
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Baseball is a kid’s sport as well as a sport that makes grown men feel like a kid again. It should be fun to play all the time. Sadly, I believe some deficiencies in youth baseball have the potential to ruin this beautiful game and may contribute to the decreasing interest in the game. One problem is securing good coaching for kids. It seems that there are two main opposing coaching styles effecting how baseball is being played today. One is that some coaches care so much about winning that it’s more about them than the players. We all know that “crazy” coach. The other is that certain coaches are just “there” and don’t do much of anything. These two common coaching types seem to kill kid’s interest in the game at a young age. Unfortunately, these opposing approaches end up having the same outcome…kids quit the game.
Some coaches are so blinded by winning some little tournament or every game that they don’t realize the affect it has on the kids. The coach may be a big screamer…scaring away the nervous, shy, yet talented kid. This coach may also over play his “star” players, leaving the others to rot on the bench. If these kids never get to play at a young age, why even play at all? So they quit. The coach only wants to get “his” trophy (how amazing….a youth trophy) to show the guys at the office, instead of what he should be doing. The coach should be developing all players to the best of their ability, increasing their self confidence, instilling respect and good work habits, and most importantly keeping the fun in baseball.
The other type of coach is one that just stands there and does nothing at all during practices and games. No coaching or instruction at all. This is usually the dad that doesn’t take a step back when volunteers are called for. You may hear the obvious, “Let’s get a hit,” from them during a game while they lean and hold up the fence. Thanks genius, “a hit” – wow, I was thinking that too. Although, they deserve credit for sticken it out and “volunteering,” they tend not to truly know what they are doing. Kids with this type of coach generally learn no discipline, no skills and run wild. At practices, the ballplayers get bored by just standing around doing nothing watching the never ending little league BP sessions. These young kids also lose interest in this disorganized chaotic atmosphere. If you get bored with baseball, why play, right?
There is a third type of coach, the one that has to coach because his son is on the team and if he doesn’t coach, his son will be kicked off the team because he’s a jackwagon! You all know what I’m talking about here- but that is a whole blog in itself!
No coaches are perfect and I am truly grateful to those that volunteer because coaching is a lot of work under the best circumstances. A coach that “yells” or is stearn for the right reasons is definitely needed. But a good coach will also step back, not say anything, and let the kids play. Coaching is an honor and a huge responsibility……Please, go to seminars, coaching clinics, or get a mentor and don’t ever be a kid’s last coach!