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.
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.
- 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.
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?