2016 coaching indy 2Since the last post was a bit negative, I thought I would write a little something more typical of this blog.  Every year I meet with my 16u team’s parents and discuss the college recruiting process as well as the team and club rules.  I encourage them to read some of my previous posts such as, “When Parents Wave Red Flags.”  We’ve just finished our second tourney (Michigan’s first weekend is June 14-17) and my parents have been a pleasure, as have the players.

Get to the field on time, say good bye to their parents, meet me at my car, carry the equipment together to the field, warm up, play the game, brief post-game meeting, carry equipment back to my car and then they can talk to their parents.  No helicoptering near the dugout.  Take it easy on the umpires (minor chirping only….LOL).  They get it.  And that makes my job a lot easier.  No red flags waving so far.

My team rule for the players is that we, and oh yes…..me too, can goof around all we want until we get to the field.  Then it’s time to focus on the warm ups and the games.  They can play their boom box during warm ups, so long as it doesn’t have music that would embarrass anybody’s grandmother.  Then we kill the jams and circle up to focus on our game plan, before heading up to the dugout.  Every coach has their routines and rules.  These are mine.

Some parents (and coaches) may not realize something that’s going on through this process.  They’re daughters (players) are growing up.  They’re being treated like adults with responsibilities, rules and are held accountable.  Many teams allow constant interactions with parents hovering over their kids through the entirety of the tournaments.  We don’t.  Nor do we allow anybody in the peanut gallery to coach during the warm ups or games.  If you are a coach, I would suggest you put an end to such things too.  If you are a parent, work on stopping yourself from babying your daughters.  Let them grow up.

This goes beyond the field.  I recall reading an article several years ago that encouraged parents to make their children do certain things like ordering their own food at restaurants, talking to their teachers about any issues they may have or giving them responsibilities around the house.  Then, hold them accountable.  I remember how motivated I was to have my chores done before my Dad came home from work (sigh).  I also recall neither of my parents ever blaming teachers or coaches for my poor performances.  Nope.  Never.

Other articles I’ve read advised parents to allow their children to fail.  They will learn from their failures very valuable lessons, regardless of the subject matter.  I’ve written about that many times before.  Struggles (failures) are often required before players are motivated enough to make changes.  Often they will coast through their school seasons, not working on the things we talked about during the fall and winter.  And then they wonder why they are struggling in travel ball.  The “My coach doesn’t this and doesn’t that” excuse doesn’t cut it.  That is the player’s responsibility to prepare themselves for the summer.

Or how about driving?  When they’re old enough, do you make them drive?  4-hour road trips provide numerous opportunities for some highway miles.  Big cities give them plenty of chances to learn too.  If you cannot let them drive on an hour long trip, how will you be able to let them drive from say Michigan to southern Georgia?  It wasn’t easy, but I did it.  It’s easier if you know they’ve logged some miles with you at their side in the car over the years.  

I bet many of you are already doing some of these things and letting your daughters grow up.  Aside from the driving part, these practices can be utilized at the early travel ball ages.  It’s a process.  You can do it!