My son plays on a U10 competitive baseball team (single A). He is a little behind with his skills compared to the other players, but he is improving and puts in a lot of extra time outside of team practice.
I have coached high school football and baseball for 18 years. His team has played 4 games (19 innings) so far this season and my son has only played in the field for 7 innings with all of them being in right field. He has hit last every game, except the one game that he was not in the line-up at all.
He played for this team last year and got to play a lot, so we thought things would be the same this year. We don’t know if we should go talk to the coach, try to find a different team or what? We have already paid $600 for him to play on this team.
What do you suggest?
COACH HENZE’S ANSWER
Thanks for the question!
Playing time is always a difficult topic of discussion and I have people asking me this type of question all the time…
As a parent that cares, more than anyone else in the world, about their child AND pays a lot of money to play a sport, I totally understand how you are feeling. On the flip-side, I have also been the coach that has to make the playing-time decisions on a traveling youth baseball team. Neither spot is fun when their are differing opinions!
Just remember… Most coaches are not out to hurt the feelings of their players and stress out parents. Most baseball coaches coach because they love the game and want to help. This is not ALWAYS the case, but it is most of the time.
- Research – Do a little investigative work into the rules, regulations and playing time expectations for your team/organization. Is there handbook for coaches that details how much playing time is required for a U10 team? Simply gather this information from the organization that oversees your team/league. NOTE: DO NOT go on a witch-hunt to get a coach fired or in trouble. Take a deep breath and use common sense (I have to say that because many parents have a tendency to act ridiculous when it comes to protecting what they want for their kids).
- Meet With The Coach – Email or call the coach and explain to him that you have some concerns and would like to talk about them. Give the coach some options as when to meet (before practice, after practice, for coffee, etc). When the meeting does happen, be courteous and truthful about how you are feeling. It will also be very important for you to LISTEN to what the coach says so you understand where he is coming from also. Hopefully, there will be a resolution at the end of this meeting.
- Resolved? – Hopefully, the playing time issue has been resolved. If not, then go to my next step…
- Contact Association – Contact the association/league director to explain the issue. Again, be calm.
- Nothing resolved? – If, after you meet with the director, nothing has been resolved, you (and your child) must make a choice. Does your son want to continue playing on this team with this playing time? Or does he want to try to find a better fit?
Remember to Involve Your Kid
During this whole process, remember that this is your kid’s experience, not yours. Be sure to find out what he wants to do.
Resource For Parents & Coaches
All parents and coaches of youth athletes should read the book, “A Perfect Season: A Coach’s Journey to Learning, Competing, and Having Fun.” The book’s author is Dan Clemens. In this heartwarming baseball story, coach, author, and speaker Dan Clemens reveals the triumphs, failures, frustrations, and joys of being a youth baseball coach. His perfect season is chocked full of humor, passion, lessons learned, and wisdom to make youth baseball an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all involved.
You can click here for more information.
Thanks for the great question! I hope this spurs a good discussion.