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……
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Tuesday night I had my second radio gig with the Rec Room Show! I’m on around the 43 minute mark below. Please give it a listen and tell me what you think!