Fall ball Dilemma

This is the first time I’ve run into this with a coach and I’m not sure what to do about this. To me it’s Fall ball Time for kids to get their feet wet in the next league up without the must win pressure, to learn the new distances and increased speed of the game, and a time for last years kids to stay sharp and maybe use this to stay on for High School team tryouts. The teams get 2 practices then its game time, that fine its how its always been.

Well last game out of the blue the coach say HE is going to give the pitcher’s and catcher’s positioning signs, this is like 10 minutes before the game, telling pitcher’s what to throw catchers where to set up. Ok but what he does is to call the pitcher on almost every pitch and tell him what to throw. My son will be on the mound and you hear Dave… Dave… an array of signs fly,and this is done on just about every pitch. Same with the catcher. I couldn’t believe what he was doing, so a made some comments to Stop talking to him on the mound. It’s not just my son he was doing it to all the pitchers.

To me what should be done is for each batter send a plan to the catcher and let the catcher communicate to the pitcher. The catcher should be the one setting the location to the pitcher not the coach telling both of them each pitch. Am I wrong in this thinking? To me saying the coach is going to call the game style, gives the pitchers the message “Your doing it wrong.”

Now My son has done a lot of work with a great pitching coach brought him along nicely, and to be frank I shelled out a lot of money to get him to pitch like he does, and i really don’t want his confidence taking a hit from this or his ability to focus on the task at hand. Also don’t want him getting into the habit of not being able to think for himself.

Well I emailed the coach with my concerns and saying I don’t think thats the right way to do this. Went into that its distracting to the pitcher and causes him to lose concentration. I was basically told this is how its done in travel ball and in High school so he needs to get used to it. This coach is just a dad with the time to give and I appreciate that, i wish I had the time to devote.

I suggested that travel teams and HS team also practice from December till game day and have plenty of time to gel to a coaches way. Not to instill this after 2 mediocre practices. I suggested a few pitcher catcher practices to get things up to speed and not do this on the mound. His reply was " I don’t see where this is going."

Now I’m considered the rogue dad. he had sent around an email saying he had a complaint and if anyone else had an issue with the practices. Not sure if anyone else spoke up, I know in the stands some were upset. But put on the spot I’m not sure any would speak up.

Am I just not up to speed on things? I’ve never seen these practices from other teams we’ve played in tournaments. I see nothing wrong while on the mound “Hey you got 2 3 4 hitters up, or bottom of the order” to the pitcher. Maybe I should just apologies and shut up and let them play. With HS tryouts in Nov. I want to make sure he’s as positive as can be. As he is right now I think he has no issue making the team. I’d just like it to stay that way.

Any ideas?

Dave’sdad

I have seen coaches call pitch and location before and played on teams where this was done. I do not think that is the main issue here. The coach has the right to employ any signal system he wishes so long as the player is not harmed and it is not apparent to me that this is a harmful practice, although it may be less than ideal.

This is not likely to be the last time your son will receive input from someone in direct authority over him that he may not agree with. This is a great opportunity for him to learn how to deal with it in a manner that still allows him to provide his best performance. Your best role is to support him in this by constructing techniques to follow the coaches direction and incorporate them into his routine with minimal disturbance. For example, the coach will not have to call your sons’ name if he is looking at him to receive the signals after each pitch. Your son can still continue to develop his thought process on the mound by comparing the pitch he would call with what the coach calls and noting the results of those pitches and constructively discussing those results with his coach.

It appears your son is just about to go into high school and at this age it is of better value for you to assist your son in discussions with the coach than for you to to have those discussions yourself. If your son was disturbed by the signal calling then he is the one who needs to talk with the coach. It would be appropriate for you to assist him in this discussion with the idea of keeping it positive. It really makes very little difference how you personally feel about the pitch calling if your son is not disturbed.

If you made the comments about not talking to your son while he is on the mound from the stands then you were completely out of line and you owe him an apology. If your son heard those comments he would undoubtedly have been aware of the conflict between two authority figures in his life and that conflict could not help him perform better during the game.

If you truly want him to be positive, find ways to help him have positive and productive dialogue with his coaches. Proactively seek out his high school coach and find out what he does for signals and ask him what he expects from your son and how you can be supportive as a parent. Have your son with you during that initial discussion. Try to change the tone of discussion with his current coach so that meaningful dialogue can take place between the three of you and this experience becomes something beneficial to your son and not just something he tolerates.

These are the same issues that I have had to address with my own children and with my own behavior in various venues and I offer you my sincerest best wishes for your son’s development.

Ted

Excellent post, Ted!

Dave’s dad, you will find that there are coaches who call the game and coaches who let the players call the game. There are valid arguments for both approaches. Althoguh the coaches that call the game usually send their signs into the catcher who then signals the pitcher so I agree that calling the pitcher’s name and giving him the signs directly is a bit odd - especially since the catcher needs to know what was called too.

As for your interaction with the coach, I really can’t add to what Ted said except that you need to understand that high school ball is typically the point at which parents step aside and just cheer from the stands. It is a big adjustment for many parents when their children first enter high school. Those that don’t make the adjustment often end up making things worse for their kids.

On one hand I agree with Ted and Roger, he’s the coach like it or not. And almost everyone is going to have to learn to take commands.

But, what happened to teaching these kids how to play the game, as opposed to trying to do it for them?

My son’s high school coach and I didn’t see eye to eye on many issues. I am not one to back down when confronted but to his credit he never confronted me. I never confronted him either…giving him respect for his time and effort. I had a few friends I used as a sounding board but I believe that any negative attitudes taken toward the coach will just be undermining the very program you hope will be successful. I fund raised my azz off, did field maintenance projects and provided transportation to and from kingdom come.

I remember a meeting I called with the coach in Dinoson’s sophomore year. He had a standing rule, “I will meet with you and discuss your son and his participation on this team but I will not talk about any of the other players on the team.” I made arrangements to meet him at the field. When the time came, I had my son with me and he had his assistant coach. I started the meeting something like this… “My son and I realize that he has some maturing to do and he’d like you to know that whatever it takes he’s going to become a big contributor on the mound. He wants to know what he needs to do to reach his potential.” Man he looked like Chris angel the mind freak. He thought I was looking for a fight.

Truthfully, after that the coach did everything he could to get opportunities for my son. He still chewed him up one side and down the other on a regular basis but my kid grew really thick skin. I think it benefited him in the long run.

Sometimes we just can’t see the woods for all the trees.

Thanks for the replies. Well it seems all is worked out. As it turns out apparently some others spoke up also on how distracting it was to have the coach call each pitcher and give them a sign. Tonights game the coach sent the signs only to the catcher, and the catcher communicated the sign, as it really should be. Nice clean subtle and most of all effective. All pitchers threw well.

I’m fully ready to hand him over to his high school coach, when he gets to the High School program. He has always been taught to respect authority. This Fall league is through the local park district, not the High School. So his coach now is just a dad, not a school coach that has an in depth knowledge of the game. If it were his High School coaches doing this to the pitchers I’d tell him to suck it up.

I’m a very agreeable person and I WANT my son to learn something from everyone, as long as the person is giving good information. I’m not saying I know everything, but I know what seems to be correct information and what is just not the right way to go about things. Kids are getting to be big boys now, it’s really time to start playing like the big boys.

[quote=“Dave’sdad”]This is the first time I’ve run into this with a coach and I’m not sure what to do about this. To me it’s Fall ball Time for kids to get their feet wet in the next league up without the must win pressure, to learn the new distances and increased speed of the game, and a . . . .
Any ideas?[/quote]

A previous post mentioned that at High School, the dad steps aside and lets the coach take over. This seems right. But what is the best way to handle a similar situation with a 9U age kid who doesn’t get the respect or oppurtunity from the Fall League coach because he’s just bigger, stronger, more mature and abilities far exceed all of the other kids on the team. League rules states 9U age kids must be in the Minors, but my son throws the ball harder and more accurate (3:1 strike out ratio) and hits the ball further (225’) than the kids in the Majors (Fall Ball). I’ve asked the coach how I can help my son fit into the team, but to no avail. The first game is coming up and my son has had five minutes of batting practice (which he put on a nice power display), about 10 minutes in the infield and has been on the mound once (where the catcher didn’t catch one pitch) in three weeks of practice.

We’ve disagreed over (1) when to throw to the cut-off man from the outfield - the coaches stance is the outfielder always throws it to the cut-off man, even if they’re 20’ apart, where I think it would be best for him to throw it straight to the base, since he can make the throw accurately, (2) how hard to throw the ball to his team mates - the coach says he should lob the throw so the other kids can catch it and I say that teaches bad habits are hard to break and the other kids need to learn to catch a baseball, (3) wind-up versus a stretch - the coach wanted to change his delivery to a wind-up after seeing seven pitches, where I think he should stay with what works at this age and not worry about the wind-up until later, and lastly, (4) pitching velocity - the coach wants him to throw at a speed the catcher can catch, and I’d rather have my son play CF and not pitch than to mess with his mechanics.

Thanks.

Dave’sDad,

Glad it has worked out well. At least the coach seems somewhat receptive to input. I hope it continues to go well for you and your son.

best regards,

Ted

shoshonte,

Sounds like you need to talk to the league director or whomever is in charge about an exception for your son to play up. If he’s that much better than the others his age, then he will not be challenged.

If no such exception can be made, then he needs to be given equal opportunity as the others.

Is there no other league or team he could play for in a more competetive forum?

[quote=“Roger”]shoshonte,

Sounds like you need to talk to the league directory or whomever is in charge about an exception for your son to play up. If he’s that much better than the others his age, then he will not be challenged.

If no such exception can be made, then he needs to be given equal opportunity as the others.

Is there no other league or team he could play for in a more competetive forum?[/quote]

I found out about the League rules when I took it to the League director. The league is trying to keep the 9U age in the Minors to avoid playing favorites and to assure they have adequate instruction before playing Majors. To overrule the Leagues rules will require a majority vote of the directors’ I understand this vote may take place next week due to the special circumstances.

After numerous meetings and discussions, the LL stayed firm with the age limit requirements. In one game, some of the players on the other team refused to get in the batters box since he was throwing too hard. After two innings he was removed to let someone else pitch so the kids could have fun. He shifted to catcher (his 1st time) and loves it. He can’t wait to gun someone out trying to steal a base! He is having fun!

For this year he has 99 K’s, 37 walks and 5 hits allowed in 37 innings. Yet, LL is still undecided about whether he should be in Majors or Minors in Spring Ball. The saga continues.

If your son is having fun at other positions, that may weigh heavily on the decision makers. However, you do have the option of going up the chain. If you’re playing Little League, you next stop would be your district level officials. They have the ability, I believe, to overturn decisions at the local league level.

One thing you should keep in mind for the spring season is the ramification of playing up on post-season all stars. Kids who play up may have to stay up for all stars at the risk of not making the team even though they would no doubt be on the all stars team at the lower level. But I’m not entirely clear on the rules for these cases. In fact, they may be defined at the local league level or maybe the district level. It would be in your best interest to learn the applicable rules in these regards.

Welcome to youth baseball politics! :mrgreen:

I recommend you take a more active role in your local youth baseball league. They typically have board members, committee memberships and most of the league coaches come from the board membership. This will put you in the position to know the regulations, vote on these kinds of issues and perhaps contribute by coaching a team of your own. Coaching youth baseball is not for the timid or thin skinned, however. I coached my son from age 7 to age 16. I would not trade those experiences and memories for the Pennsylvania Powerball annuity. :shock:

[quote=“Roger”] . . . weigh heavily on the decision makers.

Welcome to youth baseball politics! [/quote]

I’ve learned much about LL politics this year. Too much. I think what weighed the heaviest is placating the new coach who got the left over kids for Fall Ball. He needed a player or two to carry the team, since this team is made up of young Rookie kids moving up. :stuck_out_tongue: My son was chosen to lead the Rookies into the Minors Promise Land, or at least keep the coach from quitting. And it’s working. The team has yet to lose. :slight_smile:

And each win has been by 10 runs or more!

Lesson learned in LL Politics:

  1. Insiders get the instructions, pitch and play SS and 1B. These positions are to be protected at all cost.
  2. Outsiders get the leftovers.
  3. Life is peaceful and baseball is good (for the Insider) unless an Outsider is better than an Insider. When this happens, the Outsider gets moved to the Leftover Team, where hopefully he will become depressed and quit, leaving the primo positions unchallenged. If this happens, life once again becomes peaceful.
  4. Of course, life (for the Insider) can become wearisome and baseball a war if the Outsider actually enjoys playing baseball for the sake of playing baseball, and the Leftover Team rallies around him so that they beat the pants off of the Insider Team. Then the Insiders murmur and complain about losing to an inferior team, and . . . (I’ll find out the next part of LL Politics in the coming months.)

You’ll get to the part where that inferior coach with the inferior winning squad will be supplanted by “Stooge B”, the guy who hung around and was “deserving” of a team in place of Mr. Inferior…why…he was an outsider :shock: , Stooge B well he was convieniently local just not the best…AND the inferior squad will go back to their place as fodder for the chosen few. The good news is that all of a sudden you’ll find you have “new” friends who will want you to “assist” them so your dominant son will compliment Jr. “The Chosen One”…they’ll even let your dominant son be the #2 pitcher and let your boy play an important infield position. Ah how we can stack a team…

Coffee talk shop:

Coach of the Insider Team was at a coffee shop and overheard the locals telling the story of how the Insider Team beat their team a Gazillion to nothing. But that wasn’t all, then they say the next night they play the Other Team from this school district, and they have a kid who throws strikes that nobody can see. Then, for the next 30 minutes, they talk about the kid who throws strikes that nobody can see and never mention the Insider Team accomplishments.

After our game with the Insider Team, in which he pitched against their top pitchers, their best hitters were talking with my son explaining they were scared to bat since the pitches were so fast. In three innings (postage size strike zone), the Insider Team swung the bat just THREE times. 8)

I wouldn’t waste anymore time on this league. I’d get my kid in a competitive program where he will be challenged even if you have to drive and pay. In my opinion, it will be important for his development to be playing with kids of equal or greater skill level. And equally important for his mental game to not be constantly talked up as such a dominant force. I’d also sign him up for the local football program in the fall instead of baseball. The differences in size, strength and development are less obvious on the gridiron.

Dino,

He’s been invited to play for a very competitive 11U Travel Team, but financially, we couldn’t do it. His 2nd sport is basketball. He loves football and is a very good receiver and QB, but decided against playing this fall.

I think his size was part of the reason he bypassed on Football as he would be playing in the more advance league with older kids who would be typically 2 to 3 years older.

Wow, I don’t know where you live but it’s much different than here.

There’s no way, no matter how good a kid is, a TT would allow a 9 yr old to play with others as old as 12, just no way. A 9 yr old facing 70+ mph pitches just wouldn’t be acceptable.

And football, here there are age limits, weight limits, playing with kids two years older won’t happen till HS.

[quote=“SomeBaseballDad”]Wow, I don’t know where you live but it’s much different than here.

There’s no way, no matter how good a kid is, a TT would allow a 9 yr old to play with others as old as 12, just no way. A 9 yr old facing 70+ mph pitches just wouldn’t be acceptable.

And football, here there are age limits, weight limits, playing with kids two years older won’t happen till HS.[/quote]

Really, no difference here. His weight limit puts him in the 11-12 yo football. If he were to compete, he would have to play against kids in his weight limit, which isn’t going to happen until HS. As for baseball, at 5’-2" and 110 lbs, he has the size and skills to compete at a higher level. Assuming his growth pattern continues, he could be 5’-4" in the spring. But I doubt that by the spring (which others are more optimistic than I am) he would be able to hit a pitch in the 60’s, let alone at 70. There’s a part of physical maturity with regards to hitting that I don’t believe can be rushed.