Parents and Other Influences

Parents and Other Influences

Parents are a very important part of a youngster’s life - no arguments here. In fact, we all can agree, without qualification, just how necessary this is.

On the other hand (here it comes) when a parent, or anyone else for that matter, interrupts the flow and continuity of the coaching process - even in the slightest, no one benefits.

However, a coach’s incompetence or a blatant disregard for a youngster’s safety does require a proactive role, and that goes without question. But, that is not the subject or topic here.

If you’ve ever had to deal with the negative aspects of parental involvement, feel free to add your experience and how you handled things.

Here are some of mine that I resurrected from years past for clubs that I staffed - 15 years of age on up.

Personality Conflicts
It happens day one. You’re addressing an issue or subject on the field and you notice a cold steel glare off to the side. It’s one of the parents and for some reason his/her facial expression or body language say’s “ I don’t like this.” Here were some of the reasons that I found:
1). He/she didn’t want the youngster to be there in the first place. Coach was the proxy for “oh, you’re on his/her side,” even before the player arrived at the field.
2.) For whatever reason, he/she has taken an immediate dislike and the personal chemistry went south from the get-go.
3.) The youngster has been to a baseball camp or clinic, at some expense to the parents I might add, and whatever is being shown during practice or game time doesn’t balance with the checkbook.
4.) The pecking order of the parent(s) in the community (league, organization, business) doesn’t translate to their youngster(s) on the team.

My Actions

  • As a staff coach I do not overstep my authority. Team business is addressed by the head coach.
    Pitching business is addressed by myself within the parameters set forth by the head coach and myself.
  • Disgruntle onlookers are handled by the head coach or his/her designate on the spot or at his/her discretion. Hecklers and the like are expected “norms” and are ignored.
  • I agree and negotiate my responsibilities fully, up front, with the head coach and his/her staff - which can include some parents, by the way. No surprises down the road.
  • I don’t babysit - player, parents, family, or friends of player.
  • Players only on the field. No distractions.
  • The coaching skills and experience that was called for at the beginning will not change in midstream.
  • There is no plus or minus of credibility to the player or his/her coaches for wins and losses.

Resident Experts
There’s a resident expert in every crowd - not on the coaching staff, but in the crowd of parents and onlookers. He/she consistently coaches off to the side during practice and game time, but never has the time or the want to involve himself/herself with the club proper.

  • I will politely ask the “expert” to reserve comments for the player(s) off the field. If that doesn’t work I will either direct the player to the expert to get all the coaching necessary prior to rejoining the session/club. A third round of outside coaching warrants a direct approach to the parent or family member to avoid the sideline coaching - no reason(s), just short of “zip it.” Forth time is a deal breaker- the youngster joins the general player’s pool - I’m done with the player. *** This comes as no surprise to the head coach and his/her staff, when it happens**
  • I speak fluent English - not German, not Italian, not Spanish, and not Swahili. I expect said same from a parent or family member when addressing their youngster on the field. There is no debate here.

Abusive Parent/Family Member
Some players can have a terrible baseball experience on the field, which continues during the ride home.

  • I thank the player for giving one’s best - regardless how things turned out.
  • I shake that player’s hand and thank him for doing what a lot of his teammates couldn’t do.
  • I advise him that we’ll work on a lot of things that’ll improve his performance for the next time.
  • I tell him, in front of his family, how important it was that he performed that day.

In short, I make every effort to defuse a situation of blame and dissatisfaction.

A Little Self Reliance

At the fifteen (15) year old level, I try to set the field of play for a lot more reliance by ones self.
I encourage staying with the bullpen, dugout, or team bench in stead of wondering off to mom and day for drinks, snacks an such. For some, its their real first experience in such matters. For others, this just comes natural. With the pitchers, I try to organize the bullpen or bench by matching the more mature, independent players with those that are less so. In fact, I’ll have that mix keep statistics or something along that line.

What has been some of your experiences?

Coach B.

Hi, Coach B.
We have a not-very-polite, but very accurate, name for those “experts” in the stands who think they know it all. We call them hecklers. These are the characters who come to games to heckle, to get on the various players, to ride them unmercifully and make them uncomfortable or get them to make a mistake on the field, which fuels the heckling. And we see (and hear) them at all levels, from Little League all the way up to the majors.
And there’s just one way to deal with them.
Case: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, in the days before the Black Sox scandal shook up the White Sox and the American League. Jackson was playing the outfield ine day, and there was a heckler in the stands who was constantly getting on him. The heckler knew that Jackson could neither read nor write, and he started in on him and kept it up, inning after inning: “How do you spell ‘illiterate’?”, over and over again. (In some accounts it was “How do you spell ‘cat’?”) Well, Jackson paid no attention to him, which made the heckler scream louder every time. But, in the middle of the game, Jackson came to bat with two men on base.
He swung and belted a vicious line drive off the wall, and as he pulled into third base he looked up at the stands and yelled back at the heckler: “Hey, big mouth—how do you spell ‘triple’?” Not another word was heard from that heckler for the rest of the game.
A variation of this theme, more common perhaps, occurs when someone in the stands is getting on the pitcher, calling him all sorts of names in an attempt to rattle him and make him lose his command. This particular heckler is always a rabid rooter for the opposing team, by the way. The proper response, if one is needed, is to look up at the stands and say in a voice loud enough for everybody to hear: “You think you can do better? Come on down here, grab a glove and get out on the mound and pitch!” This will silence the loudmouth in the stands.
And when it gets to the point that the heckler(s) will resort to the kind of language that would make a dockworker blush, they’ve gone too far and should be—not asked to leave the ballpark but unceremoniously thrown out. Mariano Rivera said once in an interview that one should never, never disrespect the other team or the game itself.
I’m also reminded of a scene in a detective novel I read once—this was one of the 87th Precinct police procedurals—where two of the detectives entered a rather unsavory dive, and one troublemaker started going “Oink, oink—I smell pig.” He said that a couple of times, and one of the detectives replied, “And you know what pigs love best? Pigs love to clean up garbage, and I see a pile right here.” That put a stop to what might have developed into an altercation.
The point who all that is, parents have every right to cheer for their offspring during a game, but they don’t have the right to disrespect the other side. It just isn’t cool. And there’s my 50 cents worth.

I use to have some come-backs for hecklers. These were some of them:::

  • Hey fella, do I go to the place where you work and knock the broom out of your hands?

  • Hey scooter, how do you do that - your lips don’t move … but the beer talks.?

  • When two guys team up to heckle, I point to one and say … Hey, hey, hey fella … nice talk with your wife standing right next to ya.

I remembered others, but being the classy forum that this is, I’ll stop there.

Coach B.

I should point out that, the crowd is there to watch, enjoy, heckle, do whatever comes to mind.

At the highly competetive level, they don’t exist for all intensive purposes. In fact, one of the strongest mental disciplines that a player can have is to block out the crowd … focus on the business at hand.

However, that’s easier said than done at times. And when sitting in a folding chair in a bullpen, just out of ear shot to a group of beer-slugs who are tanked with antifreeze to 40 below, I use to carry a pack of Newports with me. I didn’t smoke, but one of the other coaches did - he smoked Newports but without the filters. So, I’d spring for a pack, about a buck, tear off the filters, stick them in my ears, then after the game give the pack to the other coach. After a while our skipper would joke with me by saying … “rough crowd over the pen last night?” I couldn’t figure out how he knew that, until he told me that once and a while, I’d came back from the pen, walk by him, and I’d reek of some kind of mint smell.

Coach B.