We rely on parents as coaches in youth baseball. Volunteers are vital to youth baseball organizations to allow them to operate. It is estimated that 85% of youth league baseball coaches are parents of kids on the teams.
The majority of baseball parents as coaches have good intentions and do their best to treat kids the right way. Unfortunately many youth baseball coaches lack any proper training in coaching the sport and managing a group of children.
Things get really blurry and confusing when the adult parent as coaches treat youth baseball as a miniature major league baseball franchise. Winning-at-all-costs approaches take over and nothing but winning ball games takes any importance.
Since so many of our youth baseball coaches serve as parents as coaches I want to look into some of the dad-child dynamics intertwined inside a ballclub.
I played for my dad my first two years of college baseball. I had a lot of respect for my dad and his baseball dedication and as one of many parents as coahes.
I always felt that I had to work a little harder than the other guys to really prove to my peers that I, myself earned the playing time that I got. I did not want to put my dad in a position that made it hard to justify him writing me in the line-up card.
I wanted to make sure I was good enough to play on my own merits—not that I was playing because I was the coach’s son. I wanted to earn my playing time—not be granted automatic playing time because my dad was the coach and could do what ever he wanted.
You can see how these father-son-team-coach dynamics can get pretty mixed up if not carefully handled. The coach can be under constant scrutiny by the kids on the team and the baseball parents who are tempted to question if the coach is playing his own child too much or playing premier baseball positions by the choice of the dad-coach.
There is no doubt that the dad-coach is going to be questioned by other parents of team members considering his own child’s playing time. Maybe the dad-coaches may not be questioned to their face but the topic is likely to surface behind the scenes.
I spent four years as a high school varsity baseball coach from 2005-2008. It was very satisfying and rewarding to be able to develop a last place team to the division championship in four years. We had some pretty good players that worked hard and hopefully became better men in the process.
My biggest challenges during the four years was coaching a few players that had spent their entire baseball careers up to this point playing for their dad-parents as coaches during youth baseball. There were 3 players in particular that really fit this mold. They were the most spoiled and entitled kids I had ever been around on a baseball field.
All 3 were very lazy practice players which tells me they had been lollygagging and getting away with it for years and years.
All 3 expected to be playing shortstop and pitcher and bat fourth every game—which tells me that’s what they had been conditioned to do whether they deserved it or not.
When they did not get to hit in the right spot in the batting order, pitch and play shortstop they often pouted—which tells me they had been doing this behavior for many seasons and getting away with it.
I witnessed excessive temper tantrums, emotional outbursts, throwing equipment, just shutting down and sometimes folding when the road got rough with these players that have not been properly coached and managed because a dad-coach would not do the right thing.
That left me to try to fix years of improper entitlements and inappropriate behaviors allowed by the dad-coaches. These dad-coached entitled kids reached an age where they should have stepped up to be your team leaders, and they spend all their time tearing the team apart with their immature antics and selfish behaviors.
Why? Because dad-coach did not hold their kid’s accountable for unacceptable actions on the ballfield.
As a ballplayer playing for my dad, I took the approach that I was never going to lollygag or bellyache and make it tough on my dad to justify my playing time.
My players I had here on my high school team took another road. The kids took advantage of their dad-parents as coaches and the dads failed to hold their own kids accountable for lollygagging and inappropriate actions.
Had the dad-parents as coaches just sat their own kids on the bench a few games they could have easily corrected this arrogant entitled attitude their kids came out with. Unfortunately the dad-coaches want to win-at-all-costs so they look the other way, let their own kids do whatever they want , and still play their kids no matter what they do good or bad.
It always comes back to haunt you when you give in to winning-at-all-cost rather than standing up for virtues and doing the right thing. Winning is momentary, temporary and fleeting—doing the right thing lasts for a lifetime.
I have come up with a few suggestions to help make the kids of coaches and parents in the dynamics inside a team. This is kind of quick reference parent guide for all the dad-parents as coaches.
Youth sports and parents are a mix that is here to stay. Make your dad-parents as coaches situation as healthy as possible and still be a good parent.
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