BBall Politics/Questionable Coaches

After 7 years of my son playing rec. baseball, I’m beginning to see just how political things are at my local field. Need some advice from folks who’ve dealt with this kind of thing before.

The league is VERY competitve, and there’s a lot of pressure put on the kids. On my son’s team, I’ve noticed a discrepency between how the coaches treat their sons and All Star kids versus every body else on the team, some of whom are talented infielders. It seems the kids who are children of the coaches or are on the All Star team can do no wrong–no matter how many runs they allow pitching or errors they make. It seems the other kids on the team (the non-All Stars, non kids of coaches) get punished or singled out for making mistakes. The coaches also make belittling comments to the kids, some of whom are eleven, in front of the entire team such as “Your pitching was terrible. You are an awful pitcher” or “Your batting hasn’t improved at all all season.” However, the comments about their own kids and All Star kids who are making a lot of errors this season always seem to be glowing such as “Oh, we lost the game, because we didn’t have the Ace (his son) pitching tonight.”

I get really frustrated when I see my son, who is quite talented and rarely makes an error, overlooked for “glory positions” that go to the children of coaches or All Star kids who make errors regularly. (We have chosen not to go the All Star route in the summers as of yet and have instead opted for a very good pitching academy in the summers where our son trains.) He has one of the highest on-base averages of the team, but today, he was punished and moved to the bottom of the batting order (behind kids who regularly strike out), because he missed 2 signals from his coach this season. It seems when the All Star kids make mistakes or errors, they don’t get punished. If the other kids make a mistake, they get punished by being banished to the outfield.

I’ve seen the preferential treatment for years, and I get it, but the kids are 12 and 13 now. They’re losing games as a result. And worst of all, my son–who loves to play no matter what the position–feels the pressure and negative energy. I belive that at age 12, he should be having fun and staying positive, but I would be lying if I didn’t say his morale’s taken a blow this season as a result of the coaching. He’s also not fulfilling his potential.

If it’s going to be this political, should we bother keeping him in the league? I’m sure it’s political everywhere, but this seems extreme. If he stays, will he still be able to develop as a player? What do we do about his spirits? If it’s true the cream always rises to the top, maybe I shouldn’t worry. But this situation just doesn’t feel right. Any advice is appreciated. I don’t want him losing his passion for the game.

I’d suggest playing somewhere else.

Please delete the other threads you accidentally made.

There is always a certain amount of politics in baseball no matter at what age or level you play. That said, Little League and it’s offshoots are - imho - much worse than independent ball.

I think you can categorize baseball coaches into three basic types. Type A is the guy who played baseball in college, maybe further. These types coach to make the kids better, not for ego gratification. Type B is the guy who coaches for the love of the game. They coach with enthusiasm and may be able to teach younger kids the basics, but typically aren’t as successful teaching more advanced concepts. Type C is the dad-coach-wannabe. These are the guys who “coulda-shoulda-woulda” when they were kids, who have their own egos on the line, and their priorities are First, win; Second, showcase their own kid(s); third, win. Little League and Rec leagues are full of type C’s.

There are a handful of things you can do, and I’m sure someone may have a more creative mind than mine, but here’s some ideas:

  1. Find another league/team for your son. At the very least, if he has any intention of playing junior high or high school ball, get him to tryouts for more advanced independent teams. The cost can put a real crimp in the budget, but you will typically find a more balanced approach where dad-coaching isn’t allowed, plus he will get training and coaching that amateur dad-coaches can’t provide. Even just the act of trying out for other teams can get him instruction and he can benefit from the competitive nature of the tryouts. Baseball becomes an entirely different game when you have to earn your opportunity to play rather than having rules to enforce playing time.

  2. Complain to the board of directors. This isn’t usually effective, and will typically result in retribution on your son. Not recommended.

  3. Join the board of directors and/or coach a team yourself. This puts you in-the-know and in the “club” and will probably make things better for your son. Of course, this doesn’t help the other kids who suffer from the dad-coach syndrome. If you can’t do both, then get on the board. You can directly impact more kids that way, including your own.

Good luck, Diva.

Hose

[quote=“BballDiva”]The coaches also make belittling comments to the kids, some of whom are eleven, in front of the entire team such as “Your pitching was terrible. You are an awful pitcher” or “Your batting hasn’t improved at all all season.” However, the comments about their own kids and All Star kids who are making a lot of errors this season always seem to be glowing such as “Oh, we lost the game, because we didn’t have the Ace (his son) pitching tonight.”

[/quote]
These type of comments are heard in all sports. The issue in my mind is the coach making these comments in front of the players themselves. “Praise publicly, criticize privately”, as the saying goes. If you have heard the coach(es) make these comments first hand, I would take action.

In my case, I spoke directly to the coach who, like the coaches you describe, berated the kids not only in front of their teammates, but in front of the parents as well! Unfortunately, I had to step in publicly where I would have preferred to address the issue privately since I was not going to allow him to publicly excoriate the kids with impunity. It cost me the opportunity to coach in that league the next year (no loss as it turns out), but that individual decided to quit coaching as well so overall it was a success.

Don’t take my example, though. Approach the coach privately and discuss the issue with him without others around. It should make the talk go more smoothly and might actually do both the coach and the team some good.

Hose

BballDiva,

If your description is accurate, then there are things wrong at multiple levels.

Favoritism in youth sports is wrong. Kids are smart and they see this.

Putting pressure on young kids is wrong. Baseball should be fun.

Belittling young kids - especially in front of teammates - is wrong. Destroying a kid’s self esteem can have a serious, long-term effect that extends well beyond the white lines.

Punishing kids by sending them to the outfield sends the wrong message. Outfield positions are not lesser positions. The only legitimate reason for placing certain young kids in the outfield is safety.

Punishing, in general, can can cause kids to shift their focus from playing agressively and trying to make plays to simply just trying not to make mistakes for fear of being punished (punishment here includes getting yelled at). This stifles their development.

Be aware that kids can get burnt out both physically and mentally. Too much negativity can take away a kid’s love for the game and that, to me, is a crime that no youth coach should ever commit.

You are right that it will be policital everywhere. But some forums have less than other. Certainly there are some good coaches out there and the trick is to find one.

I would say use your best judgement. Network with other parents to seek out a good league and/or coach. Maybe a travel team with a good coach is a better option that your league. The summer pitching academy might also be a good break from the negativity.

Thanks, guys. I appreciate your support. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Diva