I love [insert your sport here]. I work hard and I try my best. At every practice I do everything I can to show you I deserve to be here. I work to impress you and my family. My parents believe in me. I believe in me.
I seem to have all I need, right? Well, I’m missing one thing. I’m missing your unconditional support. I know that you’re there to push me. I know that you believe in my abilities. What I don’t get from you is support “no matter what.”
If I’m hurt or not feeling my best, I’m afraid to tell you. I’m afraid of how you’ll treat me or how you’ll look at me like your disappointed. I’m sacrificing my body and my ability so I don’t have to confront you.
Does this situation sound familiar to you? Do you know an athlete whom struggles with an injury or a poor performance or two and wants nothing to do with talking to the coach? Unfortunately, this is all too familiar in our uber-competitive society. It’s the “whatever it takes to win” attitude. Take it from me, I’m as competitive as the next person, but when the athlete begins to sacrifice their mental and physical being for the game, we have a very serious problem. And fortunately, this problem can be resolved and even avoided. You may not like what I’m about to say, but, it begins with you, the Coach.
Yep, I said it. You can be the winningest coach, the smartest coach, the most motivating coach, but you also can be a culture crushing coach. What do I mean by that? One asset that many coaches do not have is learning and understanding their players. We expect this of our children’s teachers on a daily basis. We want the teachers to understand our children and tailor their lesson plans for each of them. Why do we expect it of teachers, but not of coaches?
As a coach, it is your responsibility to learn your players, to understand what motivates each of them. Players, just like students, are motivated differently. It is part of your duty to learn how to get the best out of each them. As well as, knowing when something isn’t right, like an injury. If you have an acute knowledge of your players, then you should be able to recognize when they are not 100%. Recognizing it is one thing, how you handle it, is another.
A player should never be afraid to tell their coach about an injury. Players are silenced because of the fear of being benched. Having an injury shouldn’t mean punishment. Show your player you care. Show them you are concerned more with their wellbeing than with winning the game. A little compassion at the beginning could save a lot of heartache in the end.
Anywhere Ball: The anywhere ball is a great indoor/outdoor training tool. It is a soft training ball that provides instant feedback. When hit correctly the Anywhere Ball will fly straight and round, when miss hit, the ball will pop up or down in an egg shape. The ball is safe to hit against a wall, window or even a mirror and is ideal for hitting in a confined space such as a basement. The Anywhere Ball can also be used for pre-game warm-ups, working on blocking with your catchers and for inexperienced players to learn how to catch without fear. My players love it because they can throw batting practice in a small space without an L-Screen. To check out this product, click on the link. https://amzn.to/2INW7u2 (affil.)
Reaction Ball: This six-sided rubber ball leaps and pops randomly helping your athlete work on their hand eye coordination and reaction time. The Reaction Ball gives athletes a high energy, multi-sport training tool to challenge their reflexes and improve their skills. It is a great tool that can be used with or without a glove and can be used at different speeds and levels of difficulty. It can also be used in a small space at home. The Reaction Ball has had a huge positive impact on my teams ability to field the baseball. To read reviews and learn more, click on the link. https://amzn.to/2Ps9nag (affil.)
Tanner Tee: The Tanner Tee is the industry leading and best-selling batting tee. It is excellent for all ages and skill levels. The Tee is easily adjustable and is the preferred Tee for travel ball, college and professional players. The hand-rolled flexible rubber ball rest will not do damage to your bat and allows hitters to feel the ball not the tee at contact. Our baseball organization has found these Tees to be highly durable and an asset for our drill work during indoor training sessions. Many players use this tee at home to hit into a net or tarp. To find out more about this well built tee, click on the link. https://amzn.to/2IM3KkP (affil.)
Check out these great products being used in the video below.
I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. It’s a book that was introduced to me in my professional life. And, recently I read this blog post about coaches balancing their Why and it really struck a cord a with me.
Start with Why is about your purpose, why do you exist, why do you do what you do? In business, the answer isn’t to make a profit, that’s a result. Sinek says “that people buy why you do something, not what you do.” In this video he uses Apple as an example. In short, we all have a reason for being and coaches have a reason for coaching, like in the blog I linked above.
Every coach has a Why, a reason they sacrifice so much, day in and day out. The example used in the blog is that a few families demanded that the coach do away with the equal playing time rule. This strikes a cord with me because all of the organizations my kids play for, have this rule, and we’ve encountered these same parents before. The coach (in the blog post) almost felt obligated to submit to those families out of fear of losing them to another club, in turn, compromising his Why. This coach wanted to try and “balance” his/her system to appease a few families. I absolutely love the response his friend gave him, “You do not balance anything. If you cater to those few who only want to win, it isn’t a balance. It is abandoning your principles. Instead, you get really clear on who you are and what you do….”
If your organization or coach doesn’t have a parent meeting before the start of the season, they should. A parent meeting is a great way for the organization or coach to lay out their Why, their mission. It’s not going to remedy every situation, but at least the Why is upfront for all to see. If they don’t agree with your Why, they should probably find a different organization. “Never compromise the many for the few.”
I can sit here all day and pull out great quotes from the blog post, but I won’t. I encourage you to read it in its entirety, especially if you are a coach.
I began the process of writing this blog by asking myself one simple question, why do I coach? Why do I do it? What started my inner drive to help others try and become better people, both on and off the field? What do I possess that makes me the type of person that would want to take on this role? What were the things that I experienced in my life that caused me to want to take on this very important role for others? Is it that I get to dive head first into someone else’s world and try to help them grow? Is it that I get to share in their successes and help them through their failures?
The answer always comes back to the same common theme. I coach because I believe it is important to have good people who want to make a difference in kids lives. This is all I have ever known. As long as I can remember I have known that there was something bigger than just me, I am just a part of this world yet I still have an opportunity to make a big difference. I truly believe that all of these parts come together to help form who a person is and what a person is all about. Knowing that youth athletes are at different points along a continuum, I want to be a part of helping them recognize they are capable of greatness. This was instilled in me by my parents and coaches. They taught me to be there for others and to try and have a positive influence on others. I feel now, more than ever, we need each other. I think we owe it to ourselves, and others, to open up and share what we have learned. Coaching is about motivating kids to try and be better today than they were yesterday.
I have chosen to follow what I believe is important. I have found something in me to share with others that I enjoy. It gives me a purpose and shows others a skill that if I chose not to share it, I would not have a completeness in my life. Being a coach allows me to be bigger than I am. Are you here to contribute something larger then yourself? Is this why you coach?
“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”
The coach of the team is the leader, the CEO of the organization so to speak. You alone have the ability to make or break a child’s spirit (that’s a lot of power). Parents have entrusted you to teach and guide their children in sport. As parents we feel you are our child’s guardian while in your presence. To be the voice of reason, the disciplinarian, the authority figure and to teach and manage the game.
As a coach your role is to lead your players. This doesn’t mean you need to win every game. This means guide them and teach them the fundamentals of the game and what it means to be on a team. You must support each player (unconditionally). You must recognize each of them has a role and each of them is important to the entire team. Each player should leave a practice or game knowing more than when they came and wanting to come back. If you’re breaking spirits and squashing their love of the game, you’re not doing your job. There’s no need to coddle, and there’s no need to berate. There’s a balance for each individual that will help them develop. Encourage as much as you can.
Set realistic goals for the individuals and the team. Help them reach those goals. Be there when things are good and more importantly when things aren’t. Know your players. Know their strengths and their weaknesses. Know things about them, other than their talent level. Put them in situations where they can succeed and allow them opportunities to grow. Help them build upon their strengths and improve their weaknesses; that way they’re always moving in a positive direction.
Do you have what it takes to positively affect a child’s life?
Dear 8U Baseball Coach (opponent coach, not ours),
Do you feel like you’re teaching your boys the game of baseball? Do you think that running your kids around the bases when the ball was in the infield taught any of the kids on the field anything? How about tagging up on a pop-up to shortstop? Did it make you feel like the best coach out there to score an exorbitant amount of runs in three innings? Was it your best idea to tell your kid to leadoff when there is a no leadoff rule and then tell the umpire so we could end the inning? What are all these things teaching your players?
Your lack of baseball etiquette was evident that day. Your lack of ability to teach young players the proper technique was also evident. I’d love to be at a game in a few years to see if what you’ve taught your players still works. Did you think of the other children on the field? Clearly, you didn’t. Our boys handled it in stride, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.
I’m writing this to you because you angered me. And the next day my older son was in a game in virtually the same situation, except we were on the winning side. Our coach held our runners and didn’t make a fool of the other team. We were winning 11-0 when one of our players hit a two-run homerun (over the fence). Of course our players wanted to congratulate him at home plate, however our coach told them to stay in the dugout. The opposing coach told our coach he appreciated that.
So, you see, there is etiquette in all sports and we need to teach our children the proper way. We need to teach our children that their actions (good or bad) have an affect on others. Not only for the sake of sports but for humanity. Whether you are up by 15 or down by 1, as a coach you must always be able to recognize a situation and adjust accordingly; that’s coaching and that’s how life’s lessons are conveyed to players.
It took me all last week to try and write this blog. I didn’t know how to start or what angle to take. Then it hit me in the shower (like most of my posts do), questioning, why don’t people like to be questioned? Well, I know the answer to that, I guess the question is why can’t people now-a-days handle being questioned? Are we that insecure as a society that we can’t handle someone challenging us?
I’m questioned or challenged by my superiors at work daily. I know there was a time in my life (probably my twenties) where that made me uncomfortable. Now, in my late thirties in a career I feel confident in, I don’t mind. I stand my ground, push back if need be, or give in, if that’s best for the situation too. Know why this is? Because I’m mature enough to handle these situations. I know what I know, but I’m not always right and I can work well with others. Why am I telling you all this!? Stay with me, I’m getting there and of course sports and life lessons are involved!
We had a situation at a baseball game that got out of control. After numerous innings of the srtike zone apparently growing, our coach finally decided to say something. He “questioned” the strike zone. Immediately the umpire got defensive. He took the conversation to a different level. He didn’t like that our coach “questioned” the way he was doing his job. I’ve seen this before in sports, umpires or referees that don’t like being undermined. We’re not condoning confrontations with officials, but what we are advocating for is the ability to have a conversation with said official in an adult manner.
Officials are human beings and we all make mistakes and we all use our judgement to the best of our abilities. With that said, when a coach decides to “question” an official they should be mature enough to have an adult conversation about the issue at hand (this goes for both parties).
The situation we were part of was far from a mature conversation. The home plate umpire was not interested in having a civil conversation. He went straight to beligerent and kicked out our coach. After resuming the game he walked over to two of our coaches that were having a conversation in the dugout and proceeded to kick them out, based on what he thought they were discussing. The first base umpire had had enough and decided to intervene and the two umpires had “words” with each other. The home plate umpire called the game and the first base umpire disagreed and told him so. After a physical altercation between the umps, the first base umpire went to his car to get his gear to continue the game. Coaches from both sides agreed to end the game. When the first base umpire came back another altercation between the two happened again. With coaches seperating them and escorting them to the parking lot the situation ended. It was one of the strangest games I’ve ever witnessed!
So, to conclude, this entire situation could’ve been avoided if the umpire were able to have an adult conversation about the events happening during the course of the game. We as a society need to be able to have constructive, uncomfortable conversations. Once we all can do that, I’m betting some pretty amazing things can happen!
So your kid wants to try out for the [insert sport here] travel team? Is your family ready for the commitment? Do you have what it takes? Does your kid have what it takes? This is something at Sports, Love & Family we feel very strongly about. It’s one of the strongest life lessons we’re teaching our kids.
Before you jump on the travel team band wagon there are some things you should ask yourself and your child. First, are you as a parent ready for this commitment? If you are not willing to drive your child all over the county for practices or games…you are not ready. If your social calendar is booked every weekend…you are not ready. If you don’t enjoy spending hours watching sporting events…you are not ready. If you purchased a vehicle based on seating availabilty and trunk capacity…you are ready. If you seek out sport events even if you don’t know any players…you are ready. If you are not ready for this type of commitment then there’s no point of asking your child if they’re ready. It begins with you. If you can’t give it your all, then don’t bother. The goal is to be an example to your child and if you can’t fully commit, then don’t do it.
Once you know you can commit, now you need to discuss what the commitment looks like with your child. Make sure you’re being honest with your child when you talk to them. Let them know how often practices are, how long and far away game days may be. Let them know how long the season is and if it interferes with other sports or activities they like to do. Because, parents, let’s face it, this is their first commitment they will make and how you handle this sets the stage for later in life.
By now you probably get that we advocate appropriate behavior at sporting events. Certainly arguing with an official is not something we advocate. But, we are guilty of doing it. It’s not one of our prouder moments, but we did it and then we learned from it. It’s a motto we’ve been telling our kids since they were babies. When you make a mistake, own up to it, learn from it, and move on from it. We talk about this a lot in our house and Todd and I walk the walk as best we can.
Todd will tell you that as a coach he will argue with an official, and he’s ok with that.
“I will argue over a rule infraction or player safety. It is important to stand up for your players. Other than that you’re just being confrontational and a bad example.” – Todd Deutsch
As a coach and a parent our goal is to keep our children safe. On this particular day the situation arose where there was a play at the plate. I don’t know about you, but I hold my breath at these moments. Our team was on defense, so it was their runner versus our catcher. When it came time for the runner to make a decision of sliding or continuing to run, he chose to jump over. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but it was scary to watch. Todd immediately ran to argue the play with the umpire. In his mind this was both a rule infraction and an issue with player safety. The baseball rule book states that “…jumping, hurdling and leaping are all legal attempts to avoid a fielder as long as the fielder is lying on the ground. -note: diving over fielders is illegal.”
Of course this particular umpire didn’t like that Todd was letting him know he didn’t know the rule. He proceeded to eject Todd from the game. My husband is non -confrontational and not a yeller. But, put a child in danger or break a rule, he’s all over it. He never got belligerent with the umpire, and in fact I was pretty proud of the way he handled it. Nonetheless, he was ejected…for the very first time in his 17 year coaching history. I proceeded to “discuss” the rule infraction and even showed the umpire the rule book. Again, he was not too happy to have someone point out that he didn’t know the rule, so he kicked me out too.
So, here we are. Both of us leaving the field area. One child on the field playing and the other two in the stands. After our anger subsided, embarrassment set in. Not from our behavior, but what it looked like to our kids. Our kids didn’t see us fighting for something we believed to be right, our kids saw their parents arguing and subsequently being told to leave. They were embarrassed.
We’re sharing this story with you to let you know we all make mistakes, we’re all human. But, it’s what we do after that mistake that defines who we are. This event was a turning point in our sport-parenting. This event was a catalyst to change. Make no mistake, I was in no way an obnoxious fan; but this did make me realize how I don’t want to be perceived by my children. They are the reason I’m at these sports events and they are the reason I’m now a more silent supporter.
This is probably the toughest one to write in the series. No one wants to see their child or another child being mistreated. It’s also hard to look back at a situation and see all the times you could’ve done or said something differently. I’m hopeful that this post will inspire someone, even if it’s just one person, to speak up in an awkward situation.
Here’s a little backstory. A few years ago we had a coach with the wrong goals in mind. You’re NOT a good coach when winning is more important than the physical and emotional welfare of your players. This person didn’t turn out to be what a coach should be, but I didn’t always feel that way. I thought they were knowledgeable and a nice person, and would be a good coach. All of this being said, I still had some concerns due to their intensity on the sideline. Note to self (and others) if there’s a parent on the sideline who is so intense you can’t stand sitting near them, don’t let them coach your kid! That intensity doesn’t go away, it only gets worse when given a position of power or authority.
At first things seemed fine. But, then we would stay at practice and witness the tone and words being spoken to the players. Certainly, not how I or Todd would deliver a message but it was only a little yelling and maybe some berating. It’s ok for kids to be exposed to that, right? Wrong, we were so wrong to let this go on. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, do something about it. We didn’t. We thought handling the situation with our own child was the best way to handle it at the time. After each practice when our player was upset about what was yelled at them at practice or how they were treated, we discussed coping mechanisms. We discussed “the message” that was being yelled, not the delivery of the message. We thought having these conversations with our child was going to make them stronger and more adept at dealing with tough situations. We thought at the time we did what we were suppose to do and we thought we handled it well. We didn’t. Looking back at the situation we feel that having those discussions with our player were valid, but something more should’ve be done.
We let our feelings for this coach get in the way of our judgement for our child and other children. We justified situations that arose because we liked this person. I’ll be the first to admit, we were blinded by friendship and that betrayed our child. Let me be clear, I’m not advocating that if you don’t like a coach or you don’t like their coaching style that you should have them removed or that you should go to the governing body of that sport. What I’m talking about is abuse, mental or physical, either way, it’s unacceptable in the youth sports arena and should not be tolerated.
This situation was a turning point for me and my behavior. It made me step back and realize how I wanted my children to see me at their events. After living this situation I became a more silent supporter of my children. This is why I encouage you to take a look around at your kids next game. Evaluate other parents behaviors. It will make you see how you want to be. And, if a situation doesn’t feel right, say something. We teach this practice to our children, there’s no reason we shouldn’t do the same.
This is a good article with tips for dealing with a tough coach. We did some of things in here. All ok if the coach is not being abusive.