Friday, January 30, 2009
Be Proud, Not Loud
Parents of gifted athletes come in a variety of packages. The two that this article will focus on are the quiet parent vs. the outspoken one. We all have experienced a parents outrage at the plethora of sporting events throughout our child's lives. We have also seen that parent that let's his kid work it out on his own. Which one are you?
The parent you should aspire to be is the quiet, supportive type that will allow their son a chance to be his own man with no interference and zero public displays of emotion.
Parents that sit in the stands and complain that the coaches don’t know what the heck they are doing is not the type of parent your son or your friends find particularly attractive. Parents like this think that they are much more qualified to make decisions on whom to start, who to play when and what situation may warrant a better choice than the one that was executed.
OK, parents, so you think that you guys are so smart? Have you spent time with the players three or more hours a day, 6 days a week, for the past five months? 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 face...screaming...giving 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 second...how will he handle a game of LIFE situation? Listen, good coaches take a statement like “there’s no crying in baseball” very seriously. So stop your crying folks!
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 sport...support your team...set an example for your own children and please, quit embarrassing yourselves in front of everyone else and 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.