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.
“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!
The internet is an awesome, amazing and scary thing. Having information at your fingertips is great, but what some people do on the internet is not cool. I’m not talking about inappropriate content (that’s for someone else’s blog). I’m talking about using the internet to spout negativity or bad-mouth people or things (hence the reason we created this blog). It was brought to our attention recently that someone was bad-mouthing a sports organization our kids belong to.
Let me be clear, I don’t deny having bad experiences in some organizations. Our sport experience hasn’t always been sunshine and roses. But, one thing I’ve never done is use the web to tell everyone how terrible the organization is and how they wronged my child. What good comes of that?
Of course I was sad and hurt to see the things they said about the organization, my kid has had a great experience. But, I also understand each experience is different, depending on the child and the parents. No organization is going to please every family, it’s just a reality. How you handle how you are/were treated is up to you. However, in my opinion, the mature way to handle how you feel is not blabbing to all your friends or taking to the internet. Our culture is driven by negativity, people feed on drama (that’s why reality shows have taken over the tube).
I’m charging all our followers to be the change. Our family has changed our outlook and created this blog for the shear purpose of spreading posivity. When you’re faced with a difficult situation and your instinct is to jump on social media and vent in a negative way, I emplore you to stop and think about it. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a tactic I use regularly. I’m very reactionary, so, if I’m angry I can say or do things I will for sure regret later (thankfully, I married someone who balances me and helps me with this).
We teach our children that what they post could affect the rest of their lives (ie, college acceptance, job search), but many adults don’t follow the same rules. Parents need to look inside themselves and practice what they preach. Feel free to show your emotions, discuss with close friends and family, but leave it there. Don’t go all over town talking negatively and don’t post it all over social media. Let’s all lead our children by being good examples ourselves.
Pretend you’re somewhere between 8-12 years old. Who do you look up to? Maybe a professional athlete or super hero? Now, picture yourself as a high school kid? You’re probably wrapped up in thoughts of yourself and what the new cool thing to do is.
Not all high schoolers are like that. Some are selfless and kind and are just great human beings. We are blessed to know a few of these kids. We mostly know them through baseball and other sports our kids play. These are the kids who come spend time with the 8-12 year olds. These are the kids that understand what its like to look up to older kids. They take the time to say hello or give a high five.
Yes, my kids idolize professional athletes, but they also look at high school athletes like they are celebrities too. If you’re a parent of a high schooler, remind your child that someone looks up to them. Remind them that their actions are not only being scrutinized by their peers but by those little ones that see them in the neighborhood or on the ballfield. Remind them that they too were young once and looked up to a high school kid. If just one high school kid can give a moment of their time to a younger kid, I think it could have a huge impact on the future. Making positive connections with others in life can be so important.
It’s one thing for us parents to teach our children life lessons, but it’s an absolute game changer if that life lesson is taught by an older kid.
What do you do when faced with adversity? Do you back down and give up or do you push yourself to the limit? Many of us learned this lesson on a ball field or court early on. The way we reacted to a challenging situation then, may not be the way we’d handle it now. However, being a parent allows us to use the insight we gained at those times with our children today.
Our daughter’s basketball team was playing another team they’ve played four times in the last two weekends. After that many games in a short time you learn a lot about the other team and each player. Our daughter ended up defending the same girl in each game. After the first game it became apparent she was an aggressive and “dirty” player. Last weekend she handled her very well. We were very proud of how she worked through that challenge and persevered.
However, after playing this team four times our girl was pushed to her limit. The fourth game was different. The other girl was more aggressive and dirty. She was actually being told to behave that way from her parents in the stands. Clearly, her mom and dad haven’t read our fan behavior post. At the beginning it looked like our child was getting the best of the other girl. I was proud in that moment, because I felt like she was pushing through everything this girl was trying to throw at her. But, as the game went on the physicality of it got worse. She hadn’t dealt with that before. I could see the frustration begin to build on her face.
After the game we walked over to tell her how proud we were of her. We let her know that she played the game the right way. It didn’t matter, the tears began to flow and she didn’t want to hear anything we said. She didn’t care that we were praising her, she felt like she didn’t handle it well. Her frustration was at an all time high. Her and I walked down the hall to the bathroom, all the while I was saying all the right things (in my mind).
After a few minutes in the bathroom of me trying to talk to her, I realized it was a lost cause in this moment. She was running on adrenaline and emotion. I tried to compete with that by using all the things I’ve learned from every sports article I’ve ever read.
We both learned something in that bathroom that night. I know that in those few minutes after the toughest game she’s played thus far she wasn’t hearing me talk about persevering through adversity and being pushed to your limit, but she did store it away in her mind. I also realized that I need to let her have space after a game. It’s ok for her to be emotional, all of the emotions, good and bad. I can talk to her about the life lesson she just learned first hand…but next time I’ll wait a bit.
This day was not about us helping our daughter in that moment, it was about giving her space so she could figure out how to work through the situation in her own time and way. On this day, WE learned a life lesson through sports.
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.
Last post we discussed one of the little negative situations our children experience in sports. This time we’ll discuss one of the bigger things that’s a little harder to control…someone else’s actions. Whether it’s your child’s coach or parents in the stands, negativity is like a spider web, it spreads and everyone gets caught in it.
Trust me when I say, I’ve been here before and it’s a real bad road to detour down. I’m here to help you stay off that path. And believe me, it will only benefit you and your family to stay out of the web. It’s so hard, I know. But, do it…actually just don’t do it. Stay away, stay far away!
We talked last time about shutting down our kids conversations when they want to complain about teammates, or coaching or ref calling. We discussed how unproductive these conversations are. The same goes for parents on the sidelines. Youth sports have become a social activity for many. So, this means lots of gossiping and chitty chatty happening in the stands. Fine, discuss the who’s who of your town or what’s the best nail color to get, but don’t ever let these conversations become about what’s happening on the field|court. What I mean by that is, don’t bad mouth the coaching staff or any of the players. This is how it becomes a web and sadly, it only takes one negative person to get it going. If someone tries to engage in this type of conversation, shut it down. It’s so hard to do. If you just can’t do it, walk away, or re-direct the conversation. I’ve actually been in this situation and have gotten sucked in, and then after the game went to the car feeling horrible. We tell our children to stand up to bullies, yet, we ourselves have a hard time doing it.
So, that’s an easy solution for stopping the negativity in the stands, just squash it, don’t engage in it. It’s difficult to do, but give it a try for all involved.
But, what if the negativity is coming from the bench, meaning the coach. We’ll discuss that in Part III of this series. Read this article from heysigmund.com. about toxic people and the affect it has on kids. In the meantime, check out this book that we loved. It really opened our eyes to the criticism we were putting on our kids and changed the way we talked to them after the game. And Cal Ripken is just an awesome guy!
This can mean so many things to so many people, but I’m referring to just sports. Even then it can mean so many things. I’ll touch on the things I know and that we’ve gone through as a family.
Let’s start small, your kid is on a losing team. If your kids are anything like mine, that’s difficult because they’re competitive and want to win. Here’s how we handle this situation (and by we, I really mean Todd, because he’s awesome at this!).
When your kid feels stuck on a losing team, lots of things can go the wrong way. Negativity seeps into your happy-go-lucky child. A child who once brushed off a loss begins to get angry with each subsequent loss. It is our job as parents to rein that in. We teach our kids it’s ok to be angry after a loss. But, we also talk to them about appropriate behavior. We tell our kids to be mad, take a few breaths and be over it. There’s no sense on dwelling about what you could’ve done, how the refs|umps should’ve called the game or what other teammates could’ve done. We squash these conversations very quickly. Nothing positive comes of them.
Instead, we steer the conversation in a more positive light. For instance, we give them personal goals to work on in the game. Why not teach them that there is something they can control…they’re own actions (life lesson). Todd talks to the kids about what they can work on in the game|practice and they come up with goals (new one each time). An example would be, “today I’m going to work on being a leader, going left to the basket rather than right, taking an outside pitch to the opposite field.” After the game we talk to them about whether they accomplished this goal and what to work on next. Goals can be mental or physical. The mental game is very important and probably should be worked on the most!
We believe and again, we’ve done research on this the mental game is so important. But, many parents don’t know or understand that they need to teach this to their children. If you wait until your child is in high school, it’s too late. They’ve already set bad habits, start now, while your kids are young. We’re always sharing motivational videos with our kids. Like, this one from Nate Trosky (Todd’s latest baseball hero). Check it out with your kids and let us know your thoughts.
What about bigger situations? For instance, your child has a negative coach or there are negative fans in attendance. We’ve experienced that too, and will write about it in Part II (coming next week).