Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Last Time We Looked, Coaches Were In The Dugout...Not In The Stands

RT Staff Note: It was brought to our attention that one of the greatest coaches to put on a High School uniform in California will be retiring after the 2009 season. (We will write a story about this coach next spring, after his last game) This coach touched the lives of many players and is stepping down after 25 years and what will amount to well over 560 victories, a .757 winning percentage, 13 conference championships and three section titles. He has also seen over 150 players go on to play at the collegiate level as well as 23 sign professional contracts. The 2008 season was a successful one for him but was mired by some disgruntled parents who thought their sons deserved more playing time. We are re-running an article we wrote this past spring. Take time to read it and learn from it as your son competes for a roster spot on his high school team this school year.

How many parents out there think they know more than their high school coaches? We witnessed a group of parents that sat in the stands and complained that the coaches didn’t know what the heck they were doing this past school year. They thought that they were much more qualified to make the decisions on whom should have started, who should have played and when and what situation may have warranted a better choice in the field than the one that was executed.

This isn't new to youth baseball. Parent involvement in their kids sports teams has been a hot topic on message boards forever. But before you newer parents of high school players become vocal, just realize the following...

Have you spent time with the players three or more hours a day, 6 days a week, for five months every season? Because the coaches have. That’s over 360 hours of observation and analysis of each player. They have situational practices, inter-squad scrimmages and countless hours of time in the cage to help them decide who the better players are.

Have you even seen your own kid play that much? If so, where and what was the level of competition? How much time have you spent in the cage with your own son and what credentials do you have to critique his hitting mechanics? How many ground balls or fly balls have you hit him this week? Can you teach him the proper way to field a ground ball? When do you use the back hand? Do you know the different ways to throw a double play ball to second, based on how far away from the bag the ball is hit? Have you worked with him on that for countless hours each week?

Do you work with him on how to react to the hundreds of situations that occur when runners are on base? Do you work on hitting the cut-offs everyday? How about the double cut? Do you watch him run the bases and work with him on that? At what point in the pitchers delivery should a base runner take that first step towards a steal?

How many times each week do you work on bunting with your son? When do you bunt towards third base and when should you bunt down first. Do you teach him the push bunt? When would you ever use that? Do you work with him on hit and run plays, going opposite field on off-speed, or hitting to the right side with a runner on third with one out or less?

Do you work with your son’s on covering first base if he is a pitcher? How about bunt coverage? Do you parents ever talk to your sons about the upcoming game and their hitters and what they have done in their past at bats? Are you discussing what your son should be thinking before each pitch? How about how to hit based on the count? What might the other team attempt?

Do you help him visualize situations like how to cover a steal, hit and run or bunt? Where do they need to be in each situation? Did your family dinner time conversations talk about what your MIF son should do if there is a runner on first, ball is hit back to the pitcher, and the ball is fielded and an errant throw is made to second?

Do you do any of this for three hours a day, 6 days a week? If you don't, then HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY KNOW if your son can adequately handle all of the skills well enough to earn a starting position? If you do, then you don’t have a job…because that’s exactly what coaching a team is…a full time job!

And much like in your own job, mistakes will be made, It's a crazy, unpredictable game...There will be mistakes...but not on purpose. There’s not a coach alive that wants to maliciously make it a horrible experience for your son. Oh yes, he will be tough on your son, maybe even in his him a little verbal beat down...because he wants to make him tougher...We have seen that strategy work many times...Hey, if your son can’t handle a little tough talk, how the heck is he ever going to handle a tough game situation? Heck, forget about baseball for a will he handle a game of LIFE situation? Listen, good coaches take a statement like “there’s no crying in baseball” very seriously.

As I sit in some stands, I hear more often than not how horrible the coaches are. These are usually the parents whose sons are NOT playing. As if the kids that are playing are given some special privilege that somehow, some way their kid didn’t get. Parents, did you ever think that maybe the players that start have proven time and time again in practice that they deserve to be on the field? OK, we get it. Sometimes a starter doesn’t always deliver in a game…but maybe he impresses them so much in practice that they are pinning their hopes that he will someday break out and therefore, give him a few more chances that our armchair observations can’t see. In baseball, as it has been for the past 125 years, only 9 play on a team and if it is a close game, only 9 will play period.

Be a good your team...set an example for your own children and please, have respect for the other parents that are in the stands enjoying their sons season. Sorry for the tough talk folks...High school and college ball isn’t tee ball where everyone plays and the losers get a trophy.

RT Staff
Getting It Off Our Chest Rant


Anonymous said...

Congrats to this long time baseball coach for hanging in there for so long, especially with todays parents. Many parents are clueless as to the real skill level of their player and have no hesitation in letting coaches know how great their son is. As you point out, parents don't spend the time with the team that coaches do and aren't qualified to make the judgements they do. Not to mentiont the "rose colored glasses" many parents wear. Hopefully there are more satisfied parents after 25 years coaching than the unhappy parents. Unfortunately sometimes the disgruntled parents are the loadest.

valdosta said...

If you read the artilce about Albert Pujols and then read this article and think you can draw some conclusions that the disgruntled parents also may have kids that don't nearly put as much into the game as the players that earn their positions.

Our high school team as stacked last year and every one of those players that started played on some high profile elite team. many played together on the same team. They put their time in to to the tune of 80 summer and fall games to be better ball players. We also had a group of parents that thought their sons deserved to play, but their kids maybe played 20 summer games in a community fall games and clearly weren't up to the caliber of the starters. While their sons had success on teh community team, the competition was , to put kindly, bad. Yet, the parents of these community ball players thought that high school was run like some government entitlement program. I guess they beleived they deserved their share too no matter how little they worked.

I think every "disgruntled" parent should read some of your articles on hard work like the Pujols piece. Once they realize the long hours and dedication it takes to be a starter on a competitive team, then the whining will stop snd maybe their son will step it up himslef. It could only make him a better player.