Helping Parents Coach, Coaches Coach and Players Play
Many years ago I watched parents of an elite travel soccer team that had won every tournament they participated in as well as the state championship bitch and complain to the coach for taking the starters (their children) out of games that were well on their way to being one-sided victories in order to get the "bench players" some playing time.
It sickened and disappointed me as much then as a parent as it does today as a coach. The degree of selfishness and disregard for others that some people demonstrate is absolutely astonishing, especially considering the fact that we're talking about team sports.
Instead they angrily confront the coaches privately, while publicly maintaining a facade of support for the team.
It's the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs and runners in scoring position and a base hit will win the game. A player steps up to the plate who is 0-3 on the day. There's a lot of loud cheering. Her mom yells, "C'mon baby. You can do it!" A teammate shouts, "You're due kid!" While looking at the player clapping his hands the 3rd base coach says, "Get this done like you can!" One of the many softball experts behind the back-stop blurts out, "Don't dip. Drive the ball!"
And all of that happens before the girl has even gotten into the batter's box for the first pitch. Ask yourself this: What do you suppose she's thinking about as she steps up to the plate?
Now that she's in college I've realized how much I miss the countless hours we spent driving to and from softball.
Misinterpretation of a Smile?
Recently I was watching one of the high school girls I've been working with for the past several months play with her travel team in an indoor winter tournament. I met her coaches and then watched 2 games while chatting with her parents. Her team won both games and she played well ending the night with a rocket-shot home run.
One of the coaches came up to me and showered me with praise in front of a lot of spectators. I was smiling before he got to me as she was trotting around the bases, which is something I believe she could get some practice doing in the coming years. As he walked away back to coach 1st base I noticed other folks watching me smiling and in a sort of congratulatory way. I immediately felt uneasy.
Shouldn't my coaching success be measured by their results too?
The smile on my face was about nothing more than watching a girl I coach have success, while understanding how hard she works at the game. She's a very nice young lady, humble, good student and is coachable. She has the potential to be an above average hitter. I wasn't smiling with self-pride for myself as a coach. The joy was in watching her dedication and hard work pay off for her in a game.
Whether it's a nice play on defense, a big hit or game well pitched parents and players are hopeful the coach who came to watch the game saw it. The coach could be the high school, travel or college coach. It is most likely that the coach did see those moments of the game, which are obviously important.
However, there are numerous little things that the coach certainly saw as well. And it cannot be over-emphasized that those little things are what separate two players of equal physical abilities! It gives one player the edge over the other. It can be the difference between making a team, earning a starting position or receiving a college scholarship offer.
The parents, yes the parents, are also something the coach sees.
Your daughter is getting hitting lessons from a coach/instructor. You watch her performance and judge whether she’s getting better or not. If you are satisfied, great! If not, your options are: 1)Talk to the instructor & ask questions, 2)Stop lessons & seek out another instructor, 3)Accept the fact that your daughter’s abilities may be limited or 4)Whine and complain constantly about the lousy instructor to everybody you know.
Which action you decide to take can be dependent upon her age and experience. Hopefully you can refrain from option #4. It makes a significant difference whether she’s 12 years old and just getting started or a high school senior or has taken lessons from several different instructors/coaches over the years. Since there are many high school age girls who've never received any legitimate instruction, it can be difficult for the parent to watch as they try new things. "She's never had her hands that way before or had such a wide stance," you may think. Sometimes they can catch up and other times they cannot.