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Are You Kidding Me, You Did What? Vol.136 Oct.. 2015
October 29, 2015

You Just Pulled a Kid Off the Field in the Middle of an Inning

With my own eyes last week at a fall ball 13-15 year old game I saw one of worst displays of youth coaching implosions I have ever seen.

There was a routine base hit to the centerfielder and the player came in and fielded it cleanly and came up throwing to thirdbase and tried to throw out the advancing baserunner. The player made a strong throw but the ball airmailed high past the thirdbaseman and hit the fence.

Nobody was backing up the play (where was the pitcher?) so the runner on thirdbase scrambled home scoring a run. The coach in the thirdbase dugout immediately started charging out of the dugout yelling at the centerfielder to ‘get in the dugout’.

The irate coach yanked the kid right off the field and immediately sent another player from the bench into the centerfielders position. The kid who was playing centerfield embarrassingly jogged into the dugout in front of everyone in the ballpark to hide out and escape the verbal lashing of the coach.

Anyone See a Problem Here?

What is wrong with this?

First, the scary thing is many coaches and parents that witnessed this probably thought there was nothing really wrong with this coaches’ actions.

Let me get this straight, this is NOT in any way something coaches should be doing… that is yanking kids off the field in the middle of innings for making a physical error immediately after the play. This is humiliating to a child and borders on abuse in my view.

Second, as adults in the game, we never want to coach aggressiveness out of kids. You don’t want players afraid to make mistakes. Otherwise you will have tentative, timid, players who do not reach their highest ability.

This player charged the ball well and cleanly fielded the ball and made a hard aggressive throw (which is what I’m looking for players to do). All good stuff and aggressive too! I would have really built the player up and praised them for such a hard, aggressive throw.

The player knows and realizes quickly what they did wrong and often can correct the accuracy problem themselves without being humiliated in front of peers, opponents, fans and parents. If anything the player that should have been reprimanded the most is the pitcher for not backing up thirdbase (but that is a teaching moment for discussion later).

Never Embarrass Your Players on the Field

Third, the ‘Golden Rule’ is in play here. Baseball is a game of mistakes and failures. Major Leaguers over-throw bases. It is part of the game and will happen from time to time.

That is why we want players to back up the plays. Why would a human being treat another human being so heartlessly? If you cannot coach with enough patience that you have to explode on a kid on a simple overthrow then we have problems.

I learned early on in my pro baseball career that a good manager/coach never embarrasses his players on the ballfield. Now, in the privacy of the dugout, clubhouse and away from the spotlight you do your teaching and go over the plays.

Maybe the coach should have set up some drills at the next practice to simulate the same play and add the pitchers into the mix to show them how to back up bases. Wouldn’t practicing the play have a better effect than to go nuts on a kid by humiliating players in the middle of game and totally degrading the game of baseball?

Where is the player development?

Oh my bad, I forgot. Most coaches of youth baseball teams never schedule times to practice baseball any more.

Where is the player development?

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October 2015 Vol. 136 Additional Topics

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Until next time, Thanks for your service to Baseball!

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