Throughout my late teens/early twenties, I generated income through bartending and serving tables for local fine dining establishments. The most significant memory I take away from those years is how high the level of stress can reach when the restaurant is slammed or understaffed. Only those who have worked in this fast-paced service atmosphere can truly understand the type of nonstop chaos that ensues for hours. Serving might not require a college degree, however the position requires social skills, public speaking skills and multi-tasking abilities just to name a few. When my family goes out to dinner, we are especially considerate to our service staff since my wife and I know exactly the stress they endure. The majority of the populace has a different outlook on the food and beverage industry and sometimes that disconnect leads to undeserved small tips or becoming the scapegoat for frustration for issues with the establishment. I’m sure all servers can agree that the worst part of the job is to professionally serve a rude, obnoxious, and demonstrative table.
After coaching 17 seasons of multiple youth sports ranging from ages 5-13, I see many comparable elements to serving and coaching. Only those entrenched within the youth baseball community can fully understand the massive level of stress that ensues throughout the season. Hopefully I will be blessed with many more years of coaching but after 15+ seasons, I can wholeheartedly say the worst part of being a youth baseball coach is dealing with disrespectful, demanding, and inconsiderate parents. No matter how terrible a youth coach may be, they are nothing more than parents who have chosen to take on the obligation to instruct a group of kids. Every coach can agree, the amount of sacrifice goes beyond the hours of practices and games.
Sometimes, youth baseball parents need a reminder that the coach is “VOLUNTEERING” his or her free time. Personally, I have never received a penny for the hundreds of hours I’ve spent happily coaching my sons’ sports teams nor do I know of any fellow youth coach who has received any monetary compensation for their time, energy, and money spent. Judging by the unfair treatment some coaches endure from certain parents, I sometimes wonder why I do this when I’m not making a cent? I don’t coach for myself or for the parents. I coach for my son and the 11 other children on my baseball team whom I love like one of my own. On behalf of all honorable coaches everywhere, below is a list of 5 statements that should be said more often to those certain annoying and unruly parents who don’t appreciate the level of sacrifice that comes with coaching baseball to the youth of our community.
1. “I don’t care how good your kid is, no player is above team rules and policies.”
As a youth baseball coach, it’s easy to spot the parents who carry a since of entitlement. Usually, the entitlement of these parents stems from an abundance of financial wealth, having a stud ball player for a child or both. Unfortunately, it’s safe to assume that some kind of negative situation will occur at some point of the season when these few sets of parents believe their player is above the team. In my personal experiences, dealing with these types of people who heavily take for granted their child’s playing time almost always leads to confrontational encounters. As a youth baseball coach, we not only represent our family and team, but the brand image of the nonprofit youth sports organization we represent. Coaches have a responsibility to remain calm, cool, and collected when engaged in any pretentious situations that will inevitably occur. No matter how talented a player is, he is still a player like everyone else and everybody should be help to a universal standard. When players miss practice without a reasonable excuse, its sets a bad precedent.
2. “Why don’t you let me do the coaching from the dugout and you do the cheering from the bleachers?”
As a youth sports coach, my biggest pet peeve involves dealing with parents whom are the first to give an opinion on the batting order or field positions, but never care to help at practices. No matter what a parent might think about their baseball player’s youth coach, He is still the coach and that title demands a certain level of respect. Unless a coach has repeatedly made decisions that go against the betterment of the team to fulfill ulterior motives or has displayed a pattern of behavior detrimental those surrounding him, all parents should teach their children that the coach is the leader and he should be respected as such. My advice to any parent who publicly demonstrates their unhappiness with a coach’s game day strategies, coach your own team next season. Until then, keep your nose out of a coach’s game plan and just watch enjoy watching your child play baseball.
3. “Please remember that your child is a human being so belittling them for mistakes compounds their stress in an already super stressful situation.”
When coaching my teams, I try to follow a certain philosophy when it comes to yelling at youth players. When a player displays full mental and physical effort yet commits an error or doesn’t make the play, a screaming coach will never positively impact a child’s physique. Contrarily, if a player makes a mistake due to a lack of focus, effort, or a poor attitude, I completely agree with utilizing a sterner approach if the coach so chooses. As a parent, you are also a spectator during games. Of course most people won’t interject if you yell at your own child from across the baseball diamond, however a yelling parent form the stands seems more demonstrative than coming from the coach in the dugout. During baseball games, parents need to act more as a support system rather than a loud critic.
4. “I understand your child has tremendous skills, but his bad attitude is going to get him benched.”
Every youth baseball coach has dealt with trying to control a talented player who has a tendency to create make more distractions than good plays on the field. It’s completely natural for a coach to give more leniency towards the type of players than can win championships, but it’s important to remember how that looks to the rest of the baseball team especially the less talented players that are giving their all. If a player continues to exhibit repeated pattern of poor attitude and sportsmanship, I believe the coach must involve the parents considering the issue at hand involves character and isn’t baseball related. Bad attitudes and poor sportsmanship can divide a team much deeper than a team who may lose more with a dedicated group of youth ballplayers.
5. “If you have a problem with your child’s playing time or their position on the field, work harder in the off season.”
One of the few annoying aspects of coaching youth baseball occurs when certain parents take offense to their child’s role on the team. In some regards, these parents are justified in their feelings when the coach plays “daddy ball” giving his or her staff’s kids prime spots in the lineup. Often times, these upset parents simply overestimate the level of talent their baseball player possesses and would rather lobby for more action instead of having their child work harder at practice to earn it. Complaining about your child’s playing time or their role on the baseball squad only creates more issues that could have lasting ramifications. It’s safe to say that each youth sports parent has at one time or another has been upset with how their own child is being utilized on the team. Wanting more for your child is a perfectly normal feeling that no youth sports parent should feel guilty about. As parents, we should use these situations as fuel for your ball player. Using it as motivation to work harder in the off season serves a much better purpose than complaining to the coach.