Amateur Coach's Certification

What’s the purpose for certifying a coach at the amateur level - any age group?

I’ve sat in the lawn chair gallery this summer and I’ve watched a impressive collection of boarder line misfits coach, direct, holler and scream their way from one game to another - all with the title of coach.

I’ve watched youth league, high school and even college men who I assume are in charge of piecing together a ball club, managing said ball club, and then ultimately fielding a ball club.

Am I missing something here about role models and leadership? Or is the primary purpose of certification to collect revenues, or some other agenda.

I honestly can’t understand why certification is so necessary to be an idiot for so many - not all, just so many.

To me a lot of it has to do with the culture of coaching in general and the culture of baseball specifically. Teaching takes focus, patience and a plan. Being angry, impatient and ego centric takes nothing…not even an inventory of ones shortcomings and insecurities.
Little kings ruling little kingdoms.
A certification is proof of what?..someone taking a course or passing a test?
I could study for several months and pass a test to get a certification as a personal trainer. It would be no reflection of my actual applicable knowledge and just as importantly my ability to teach said knowledge or my abilities as a decent human being.

Coach B.

Coach certification is simple corporate cya. Most youth coaches are modern day Underdogs. “There’s no need to fear…Underdog is here.”

Naive, ignorant, unstudied, hobbyists. Protectionists for their own children.

After causing an evening worth of havoc on the field and from the dugout he is heard to say, " I am a hero who never fails…I can’t be bothered with such details."

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” Dr. Albert Bartlett

Idiots abound…Shoeshine Boy ducks into a phone booth and out comes Coach Underdog. He swallows a red super energy pill.

Best regards.

I’m willing to bet that some 80% of these “coaches” never picked up a bat or took the mound to pitch a few innings. They get their certification on the basis of how loud they can holler and how fast they can put down players, and that’s a crying shame. What they know about baseball you can put on the head of a straight pin and have room left over. Gee whiz, if I were in better shape, I could coach and do a better job. GRRRRRR! :x

These responses are a witness to the prevailing “as is” for much of what I observed last summer. Prior to that, I wasn’t much interested, to be honest about it. I was focused on a very narrow mindset of other things.

However, last summer I had the chance just to sit back and take in the game for the game’s sake - be a relaxing day dropped off by the Mrs. with a lawn chair, cooler, umbrella, hat and cell phone.
So, anyone out here ever go through one of these sessions? Just wondering.

What exactly is a certification program suppose to accomplish anyway?

Are Little League, park & rec, high school, Legion, Pony, etc., all the same with their certification program, expectations, follow up and monitoring?

One of my biggest grips is the lack of respect for umpires. Most, if not all, of the amateur games that I watched this summer were using a two umpire system. Not the best, but even with the shortcomings of personnel on the field, two umpires seemed to do rather well. I say well, because of their amateur status, time on the job, and other particulars. Very few jobs that I know of expect so much from someone first time, every time, right out of the chute.

On the other hand, I’ve noticed the umpire boards seem to have a delicate balance, business wise, with athletic directors, youth sport’s authorities and various governing bodies. It almost seems like the prevailing attitude goes in the direction of … keep your mouth shut and take the money. (I could be way off base on that last one.)

What I’m looking for is the inner workings of the certification process. I’m not acquainted with the amateur game at all, especially youth, high school, park & rec, Legion, Pony, etc.

Perhaps this is just one of those things in orbit, you know, like gravity - it’s just there because…

The certification process for youth football coaches where I live consists of getting certified in CPR, passing a background check and attending a one or two day seminar where you are shown very basic technical aspects of the game. The focus on the cert here is safety of players. As far as I have experienced there is no certification process beyond a back ground check for baseball.
The safety element is good, but, the actual coaching leaves a lot to be desired. The thing that bothers me the most about watching a lot of youth baseball is a lot of the coaches talk to their players in a way that is disrespectful and negative. I am sure these men would not talk to their friends or co workers that way what makes them think it is ok to curse out a 15 year old?

fearsomefour has summarized, basically, what I was witnessing last summer. The lack of respect. Well stated.

Coach B

Check this site out. this is what you have to go through in Canada to become “certified” it’s a long drawn out process that quite frankly doesn’t help that much unless you have a good instructor, and those are few and far between.

It gets even worse when you have a former MLB guy “teaching” when all he does is talk about facing so and so and this is what he’s looking to do. Keep in mind he’s talking to wanna be Coaches of 10U team’s. So then you have those guys trying to implement theories and techniques that are way too advanced for that age level,but the majority of people think it’s great because so and so is “teaching and giving back to the game at the grass roots level”

I’ve thought about this one since you wrote it John…
Let me say that I am the converse of my very good friend…he, paid to develop a talent to a marketable commodity…me?.. I was that guy…the very one described…armature unexperienced…too brash…a big mouth.
Leadership is a strange thing…it can be Woody Hayes or Leo the Lip…John Wooden or Joe Torre…funny how that works.
I came to coaching in 1985, my eldest a mear t-baller, thinking that he wanted to “do that”, after watchin me play military ball and seeing the kids play at our base, NAS Jacksonville Fl… I found that they needed help…my bane…helping, this league didn’t have enough “leaders”. So at 25 I volunteered. My leadership paradigm? Assertive military and autocratic. I had 6-8 yr olds and frankly…it was herding cats. As I look back? Those kids made my life…elixir for the soul…they played and smiled and had fun…baseball could have been anything, it was children at play. Of course I was a player…was going to make em play right…they ignored me and had a memorable joy filled experience.
It made me think…“hey…I can make a difference but not in the way I think”.
I made my way through another season…mostly a cheer leader, baby sitter…not succeeding, just place marking. Now don’t get me wrong…there was a cadre of parents that just loved me…involved, caring, actuating the lil protege…why I was beloved…but as I said, I played, knew quality and was a life long lover, studier of the game. It was then that I had an opportunity to " certify" via Bucky Dent and his traveling school.
What they taught me was that there are certain things you can do to improve and develop kids…this wildly excited me.
I spent a couple of weekends, learned some technique. Got me a piece of paper :wink:
What I didn’t do is let that be the end, I continued to learn and study. I spent the better part of the next 5 years taking notes and picking brains. My journey brought me umping from there, I found that they took to continually certifying and maintaining credentials. Much like folks in my industry must continually update their skills and maintaining “certification”.
Why? Well because the ones who really want to help look for ways to do so in a better more efficient way…we have way too many out there that allow ego to intrude and that is to the detriment of the kids…but quietly…guys like our very own Roger, go out there and really try very hard to do it in a way that really does help…I want us to appreciate and uphold those wonderful spirits…they strive in the shadow of big mouthed blowhards who stain the beauty of these shining spirits…a pity if you ask me, but you can bet they will be there none the less and attempting to enrich their skills through certification processes.

Back in the late 80’s or early 90’s ( I think), I was home for the summer because of business issues. I was reading the sports pages of our local paper and I saw a small section in that paper that indicated volunteer coaches wanted for a Babe Ruth club in a neighboring community. I menition it to my Mrs. and she suggested that I spend time away from what I was doing and just have fun that summer. As usual, she was right on and it was one of the best things I have ever done.

I called the phone number and talked at some length to a man who was going to be the head coach. He asked if I could stop by the field where they were meeting and talk. I did. That summer I volunteered to be a pitching coach for a 15 and older Babe Ruth club. I also witnessed one of smartest men I have ever seen, handling a ball club – amateur or professional. He fielded just enough to make the club work, so his tryouts were really a formality. After which, he had parents and players alike in a group and this is how he started the season.
(as best as I could remember)

“Welcome to the team. I, along with my coaches, will help you develop your baseball skills. We will show you what’s necessary to play the game, both as individuals and as a team. Neigther I nor any of these coaches will win or loose a baseball game. It’s up to you to decided that. If you are here just to have fun, while others are here to win, then that’s up to you to work that out. You’re the ones with the ball in your hands, the bat on your shoulders, the spikes on the field – not me, not these coaches, and not your family. Everyone will play, but at different times. I, as your head coach, will make that final decision. If there is anyone who has a question about what I just said, speak up now. “

He waited a long time, in silence, then slowly questions started to come around – espcailly about the playing time for players. To his credit, he
directed every question right back to the players and parents. I remember this question in particular –
Question:“How much time playing is a kid going to get?”
Answer: “ok, let’s take a vote. How many want to see equal time for everyone regardless of the score - win, loose or draw?”

Not one hand went up.

This coach now had a sense of the direction of this club by virture of every parent and player present. No arugments later on, no cry and moans about how fair or unfair, no blame games.

He also went on to set the stage for his role, and the other coaches, in all this.

“If you want me to coach to win every single game that a baseball team in this league will play, then take you kid home. Because from what I see, I can get a better pool of talent somewhere else. So remember, I and these coaches standing in front of you will show you how to play the game – it’s up to you players to play it, your parents to get you here on time, well rested and ready to go. Do we have a problem with any of this?”

Again, dead silence.

That summer I have to say I forgot just how much fun amateur baseball could be, for that age group, 15 and older. (I’d never do it again- but) I saw young boys grow into and mature into young men. Every coach took their turn complimenting every single youngster on the field, not criticizing. I saw youngsters and their parents talk, not confront each other after every game – regardless.

The best part of it all, I learned more about coaching pitchers, and even more about myself.

I gotta admit, that Mrs. of mine is one smart lady.

There are good coaches out there that do it well and for the right reasons.
Bless these people.
The total number of coaches I would consider “good” in my sons athletic life from, say 10 years old to his first year of college, I can count on three fingers.
One was not a pushy coach…in fact he did very little in game coaching at all. He taught more in terms of concepts. But he treated the kids (16U) with respect. Teams rules were voted on by the players (this actually led to a very strict team policy in regards of consequences for missed time), he let the catcher call the game (amazingly he is the only coach my son has ever played for that did not call pitches), he selected a hideous uniform with bright red pants…so they would not take themselves too seriously. He did improve players, not by ranting and raving, but by entrusting a good deal of the process to the boys themselves…he made it clear he was there to help, but, how much they worked was up to them, how much they improved was up to them. They ended up winning a state title. More than any other team my son played for this team fostered respect for one another and supported one another. No yelling at one another, no calling names or blaming a kid when there were errors made. Usually four or five high fives or hugs and a joke or a smile…the loosest team I have ever seen. His approach worked. The boys grew together and respected one another regardless of skill.

Coach B…
This thread really sent me down memory lane. A lot of those memories, from a parents perspective, were not great. The thing that has always bothered me the most about youth sports is the negativity heaped on children by adults. I used to get the “sports parent” bug at times…until I started coaching. Standing on the sideline I was reminded of something I didn’t remember from playing myself…you can hear almost everything parents are saying. Making fun of kids. Cursing other kids or their own. Fighting back and forth, cursing…you can hear a lot of it. I found it a learning experience. It changed how I view these boys. Frankly, it takes some bravery to get out there in front of peers and parents and give it a shot. I have a good friend who I coached with for a couple of years. He coaches youth football (13-15 year olds mostly) and has won 5 regional titles (Pop Warner) in the last 10 years. His current team is slated as the #4 seed in the national championship tournament set for December in Florida. He is a heck of a football coach. Great at teaching the game (seeing QBs audible and centers make line calls is rare for that age) and getting kids to buy in. What I like best about him is in 10 years I have never, not once, heard him yell at a kid or speak to a kid in a negative way. He has been offered paid coaching jobs at the high school and small college level…he turned them down. He likes teaching kids without it having to be a “job”.
It seems to me that the default setting in sports generally and baseball is negativity. Coaches tend to preach one thing and do another. The power of the youth coach is as strong as ever. I just hope there are enough guys who are good people first and good technical coaches second so that lots of kids are having a good experience. A coach can push kids without being mean, they can motivate without being negative, they can encourage without being soft and they can teach a great game and instill a love of the game without caring more about the score than the people.
Maybe that is corny or outdated, I don’t know. Very few of the kids handed over to the youth coach will play beyond high school…many won’t play in high school. Let that 10 year old second baseman enjoy the game. Let the teenager with no real natural ability learn to love the game and the experience of playing.


On a Wednesday, my Mrs. usually drops me off at a Dunkin Donuts shop where I have a cup and jaw with three coaches that I know. We all worked in different Independent Leagues, and at times even sat across from one another dugout to dugout. We’ve all been offered jobs at private training companies/franchisees, former MLB and affiliate player’s rag shops (as we call them) high schools and one at BC, Penn State and SMU - but no. In many ways, the amateur stuff is not for us. None of us has the feel for dealing with all the things in orbit with respect to the amateur environment.

On the other hand, sometimes our conversations gets around to basically what’s been said here. Usually, someone at a table within earshot will start ragging on this or that of a game some kid was in and how things would have been different if they were coaching.

I’ve printed out what you mentioned here in your last posting, along with JD. I’m going to bring it to my next “I’m buying - it’s my turn.” Besides, one of our group just had surgery for something and I got to come up with something to talk about before I have to listen to …" stitched this and cut that…" stuff.

Good topic and a decent response(s). Dino’s was and has been my mindset for years.

It is a good topic and I have enjoyed all the responses.
I agree with what Dino is saying as well. Unfortunately that is the norm. There are exceptions of course.
I have taken my kid to former pros for lessons ect. In my experience the only real difference there is paying $80/hour vs $40. Again, I am sure there are exceptions.
The amateur game is a mess for sure. Coach “Underdog” as Dino dubbed them is very real. The pro game should be different and is of course. It’s a business and is treated as such. Fair enough. Kids in my opinion should not be subjected to that mentality. This does not mean being soft or that I am a fan of the “participation” trophy mentality. I am not. This sort of mentality is for an by the parents.
It (amateur/youth sports) is its own little strange world for sure. The best piece of advice my son got from a pro was as follows…"The last game you play for fun is your last game in high school. After that it is a business. If not for you then for your coach or your team or your school or the guy selling soda. Expect no sympathy, there will be none. You can have fun playing, but, playing just for fun? That ends in high school."
Your sessions at the donut shop sound fun and are full of great story telling I am sure…have a glazed for me!!

I’m retired and limited to travel and things because of health issues. A lifestyle and other things have finally caught up to me.

I like the idea of talks at the coffee shop, in fact, I’ll make a topic about that. Maybe somebody can relate and possibly get a chuckle or two. This is a very small world and things have a way or repeating themselves, regardless of the times and places.

I particularly like Zita’s recollections. A time in my life that I can recall some of those names and events.

I like your style fearsomefour - a good balance of been-there-done-that and just a touch of humor.

Thanks Coach B…
One of the things that makes this board so valuable is the mix of experiences and opinions. Everything from new be parents and players to the game to ex pro players and coaches. Being able to get a variety of perspectives and opinions is a valuable thing.

Excellent idea—exchanging ideas over a steaming cup of joe and a freshly baked donut. And let me tell you about one such, many moons ago in my playing days. I had been warming up prior to starting a game one Saturday afternoon, and I had just finished when my second baseman hurried up and let me know that I had a nickname—the other teams were calling me “The Exterminator” all over the league. He explained that two players on the team I would be facing were jawing back and forth and one of them happened to mention that they would be facing me the next afternoon. The other player groaned, “Oh NO! Not her again! She’s just killin’ us!” I could not suppress a chuckle, as I remembered the same thing happening to those Cleveland Indians when they had to face Eddie Lopat–again.
And I went out and pitched a two-hit shutout, no walks, twelve Ks. :smiley:

Zita, your experience reminded me of a similar encounter with a lady on the mound.

I took a break from Independent ball to play some over 30 baseball, just for one summer.

It was in Upper State New York and we pulled into a field that was typical of that area. A lot of land, wide open outfield and two aluminum stands for spectators.

On the other side of the field was a club, similar to ours, but with one exception- there throwing the ball back and forth with a catcher was a woman.

At first we just watched, but as time went on, the lady was definitely on the roster. Some of the guys, and later on I jointed in, started joking around and even throwing some chuckles out.

A softball thrower just wasn’t going to cut it, but if that’s the way it was going t be - so be it.

Well, after many, many innings our club was 3 up and 3 down like a merry go round! This gal was the genuine article, and it was embarrassing. Embarrassing from the standpoint that we chuckled and joked our way into this pickle with no way out!

In the last inning she was replaced by their third baseman and that was the only chance we had to put a run on the board.

Later on while lining up for the handshake, everyone of us shook the lady’s hand, and, tipped our hats out of respect and with apologies.

Now to add salt to an open wound - our wives were there and left no stone unturned to remind us of how … " we gals have to stick together…"

Gads, I can still remember how uncomfortable it was on the ride home.