This is the second year my son is playing baseball. He pitched last year as well, played left, right field and played 3rd a few times.
During the beginning of the season, he was put on the mound several times to demonstrate his ability. In the first game of the season, the coach brought him in. This was the first time he pitched from a mound in a game as well from a longer distance (pee-wee to bantam). He was very nervous and, unfortunately, walked the four batters he faced. The coach pulled him.
It is 7 games later and my son has still not been given another opportunity. In fact he has become one of 3 bench warmers. He asked the coach if he could get another chance to pitch or catch at least (he is a strong catcher but was never given that chance either). The coach told him that he would most likely let him pitch in the 3rd game of our latest tournament because the team we were facing was weak. When the starter was pulled, my son assumed that he would get the call, but no. He brought in another pitcher who, during our last tournament, walked in 9 runs and allowed 4 more. This child immediately started the walk-fest again. Once again, my son had high hopes that he would get the call. NO. Brought in another non-regular pitcher to close out the game. It was 1 1/2 innings of work as the other team was mercy’d.
My son has lost all respect for this coach and at the end of the game told him that he was not his coach. The first response from the coach was “fine, don’t bother showing up tomorrow.”
Instead of trying to calm my son down and talk to him, he allowed the confrontation to continue on the bench around his team mates, the other team and their parents.
Am I wrong in thinking that this coach does not have the ability to coach, other than his “superstar 7”? I find his actions a failure as a coach, and we are currently asking that our fee be returned to us. They are refusing saying that he has played in games. In 9 games, he has accrued approx. 4 hours of actual playing time. There are 2 other children in the same position as my son.
I though ball at this age was to develop the skills of all players and not ignore the ones that need work. This is not a “try-out” league.
I am looking forward to your view on this situation.
Coach Henze’s Answer
Thanks for the question Ric!
There seems to be numerous issues going on in this situation, but it is hard for me to answer the question without knowing the ages of these players and/or the actual details of the situation. I will try to help as best I can…
At the beginning of your 2nd paragraph above, you said that your son was “put on the mound several times to demonstrate his ability” during the beginning of the season. However, the next sentence states that during the first game of the season he pitched (walked four batters) and that was the only time he has pitched the entire year… I am a bit confused with those statements.
To make a long story short, I don’t think I can comment on this exact situation because I don’t have the full details of what is going on. It wouldn’t be fair to you, your son or the coach if I were to pick sides.
I do agree with you that young ballplayers should all have the ability to develop their skills when they play on a team. As traveling players grow older, equal playing time should NOT be guaranteed. However, I do believe that they should be guaranteed some playing time every game (just not equal).
You never mentioned if you have had an “adult” conversation with the coach yourself to find out what the coach is thinking. It is sooooo easy to get angry/frustrated and start feeling the way you do (based on what your child is saying and feeling). That anger continues to build to the point where you encourage your child to quit.
I don’t believe in a child “quitting” after he has made a commitment to a team at all (unless there is abuse of some sort). I feel that it is important to make this into a learning moment for the kids and have them watch adults work together. If you simply have the child quit, what has he learned? Absolutely nothing… No baseball, no life-lessons, nothing…
Coaches and parents need to take a step back and make sure they are always doing what is best for kids. They need to encourage kids to have fun, practice hard, play hard, be a good teammate and to learn the sport.
I think all three people (coach, player and parents) need to step back in this situation and see how to resolve this conflict. Based on what I have read, this ballplayer should not quit.
: This is a very touch topic and I tried to answer honestly based on my beliefs and with the small amount of knowledge I have on the situation. I hope you respect that.
I would love to read more comments on this situation from my readers. Share your thoughts below!
Comments for Conflict between my son and his coach
Click here to add your own comments
Jul 15, 2011
Coach isn’t doing the right thing
I certainly don?t think the coach is doing what most coaches should be doing with kids at that age. I?m in favor of rules like our youth teams have in the league they play in, and that is that everyone is in the batting order and a player has to play in the field at least every other inning. I firmly believe that kids at that age should get a chance to play, regardless of their ability level. If not, they will probably quit. If they play, they may develop and become a decent player.
I assume that it might be a different attitude in the larger metropolitan areas than it is in rural Minnesota. I always get the feeling that in the larger cities, the coaches are in it more for themselves and their record, and are more hard core about playing time, especially in tournament play.
Anyway, my two cents.
Jul 14, 2011
This is a rotten situation to be in, probably with a lot of variables. My initial thoughts:
-I agree with the others that your son’s response was not appropriate. That being said, he is young and learning, so the coach should have turned this into an opportunity. At the same time, as parents, we can’t fix every situation for our kids. They need to learn that sometimes life isn’t fair, that not everyone is always going to be nice to them, and things aren’t always going to go their way. It’s all part of learning to live in the real world.
-Every player has their strengths and weaknesses. Not all players are great at every position. That being said, I believe in little league, players should be rotated and given the opportunity to learn and grow with each position. To me, that’s the point of youth baseball. Not all coaches believe in that philosophy. It’s our job as coaches to make the game fun for the kids so they want to continue learning and participating!
-I’m new to coaching. I do understand the coach’s approach of placing players where they are the strongest. We’ve done that, too, but are also careful to give everyone a chance to experience each position. Everyone wants to win; it’s up to the coach’s discretion how much they want to balance winning because they only play the best players in certain positions vs. providing learning opportunities for all.
My suggestion if your son really wants to pitch: approach the coach, explain the situation, and ask what you can do together to help your son develop in that position. The extra effort will demonstrate your son’s commitment and the coach will understand how serious he is about being a pitcher. If the coach doesn’t support the conversation, he’s probably not the right coach for your son.
Jul 14, 2011
Response to Conflict between my son and his coach
As a coach I believe a player talking back to a coach is unacceptable and can cause excessive damage to the rest of the team if not taken care of. Not sure what age level you are speaking but I can say that as a coach of 9-10 year olds all kids want to pitch. Very seldom do I have a year where almost every child wants to pitch. The facts are that not every player has the ability to pitch even though he wants too. Coaching is difficult and there is a situation almost every year that a parent or child wants to play a position all the time that he will only get a few chances to play. Winning is not everything at this age but don’t tell the kids that because they will not agree with you except the ones that are not playing the positions they want to play. I have 13 kids on my team and every child gets at least 4 innings a game but it may not be the position of there choice. Parents should not be decided what position there child plays at any time.
Jul 14, 2011
Your son needs your help
by: Coach Jerry
There’s a lot going on here, and we only have your side of the story, but I’ll treat that as accurate. At this age level for a non-tryout team, every kid should have a chance to play, but as kids get older, equal playing time is not a guarantee, nor should it. But some playing time should be. If the pitching situation is as you stated, it’s unfortunate that he hasn’t had another chance, but it is the coach’s call and he may have more reasons that you’re not aware of. Certainly in a tough pitching situation you don’t consider the kid who walked all 4 batters he faced as your best option to get the team out of trouble. And I know that’s not how you see your son, but that’s how the coach sees him.
Second, your son’s comment to the coach was inappropriate and although I wish the coach was softer in his response, I would have said, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but you don’t have to play on this team if you don’t want to. Playing baseball is a privilege not a requirement.” He should have ended the conversation after he told him he didn’t have to come back and not let it continue–praise in public, reprimand in private.
I know I sound like I’m taking the coach’s side, but I’m not trying to because without a doubt there are a number of things he could be doing better.
This is where your son needs you. Clearly your son is not capable of handling this situation/conflict by himself–at least to a satisfactory result. He needs you to represent his feelings, his interests, and his passion for baseball to his coach for him. He also needs you to ask the coach what your son needs to do to play more and to get another opportunity to pitch, and to be willing to do what the coach asks. Most of all he needs you to teach him that quitting isn’t the answer. There’s a lot to be learned by gutting it out, working a little harder through the end of the season, and most importantly how to work through a conflict with a person of authority. BUT, I highly recommend you go to the coach with a “We need your help–Timmy loves baseball, loves being part of a team, and he really wants to play as much as possible but he’s discouraged and so are we. We just want to help him through this so he can have fun.” If you make it a shared problem and objective it will be much better than if you approach him from the perspective you write in your letter, and that will be hard because you’re understandably deeply emotionally invested in the situation. If a parent approached me that way, I’d work hard to work with them and the player to help him. Oh, and your son should be prepared to apologize to the coach.
I hope you all choose to stick it out for the season, that your son and coach start to click, that he sees some success through the end of the season and that next year with a different coach he has a sensational season! Good luck!
Jul 14, 2011
by: Coach T
After reading about this situation, I also think I would need more information before making too many comments, but I do have a couple of thoughts based upon the limited info given.
First of all, having been in the same situation in the past, it is probably true that the coach was planning to use the player again and he could have even mentioned the specific game, but I have found that this is dangerous ground.. circumstances change and he might very well have meant to use the player and then changed his mind, depending on the situation that came up in the game.. Of course, at the point, the coach should have explained to the player that he changed his mind due to the particular situation and he would try to get him in another time..
Secondly, for the player to talk back to the coach in the manner described, is totally wrong!.. that is something that is never the right way to handle things.. in fact, again, depending on the age of the players, I would have called the parents over and asked the player to leave the bench and I would have told them I will explain the situation after the game. There is never a place for that type of disrepect for a coach, period. It appears that this was building up due to the lack of playing time and the situation must have been discussed at home the player to react in such a manner.
I have found that clear communication with both the players and the parents is the only way to try to prevent this type of situation, but sadly, even that can fail to work if there are unrealistic expectations on either side of this issue.
Jul 14, 2011
Conflict with Coaches
This is a difficult situation but I agree with the Coaches advice to not quit. That doesn’t teach anything of any value in baseball or life. If you teach your child that if things don’t go the way they want you should just quit it isn’t going to help him in any sport he decides to play.
I have an 11 year old son who moved up to the Majors this year. He is a solid defensive player and is struggling with his hitting this year. He admitted to me earlier in the season that he was afraid to get hit by the ball which is one of the most difficult things to coach because you can’t gurantee that a kid won’t get hit by a ball.
Why am I telling you this story? Well my son and I continue to work on his hitting and working with him to get past his fear so that it will improve his hitting. I think parents need to take more initiative to work with their own children to help ensure they do improve with whatever aspect of the game they are struggling with. If the player is struggling with pitching and you don’t work on it with him, how is he going to get better? You shouldn’t expect 2 hour practices with 12+ kids to focus solely on your son as it wouldn’t be fair to all the kids playing. It is a tough situation to put him on the mound in a competitive game situation and hope that he does better without any type of practice. Coaches want to win just like the kids do. This doesn’t mean that coaches should bench kids from playing the entire game especially at a young age like 9-10 and even 11-12.
I think at times parents need to step back and look at the situation from the coaches perspective. He has 12+ kids that he needs to coach and help grow as ball players and inevitably win games.
I am in a very similar situation with my 11 year old son right now. His team made the States tournament and he is one of 14 kids playing on the travel team. He has been struggling with hitting and really isn’t one of the top 9 right now offensively. So when he rides the bench during this tournament because it will enable hour team a better chance of winning so be it. We have talked about it and he understands, what I wanted him to take away from this experience is we need to keep working hard on his hitting so that the decision is more difficult for the head coach when we get into this situation the next time.
Practice with him, work with him show him that the best way to improve is to work on it, not quit. Dedication and practice is the only thing that will help him improve, then he can show the coach at practice that his pitching skills have improved and deserves another shot at the mound.
I hope that helps.
Jul 14, 2011
Don’t Discourage Any Player
I personally think that it is not write to discourage any child at that level of ball playing or any for that matter. The kids first time up to pitch in this league will tend to get nervous and make bad pitches and mental mistakes I feel that the coach should have gone up to him after the second walk and settle him down and let him know to relax gain his confidence back and let him know what he is doing wrong instead of letting him continue to wall more batters. After that visit if he continues remove him from the mound taking to one side and give him words of encouragement, not punish him by benching him for so many games. you as a coach is your job to prepared them mentally not just physically. And what the coach did when this player said he was not his coach at that point the coach should have talked to him and explain what he did wrong and encourage him not to quit.
The coach is completely wrong and if his coaching methods are like this parent says they are he needs to be removed.
Jul 14, 2011
A teachable moment
by: Jim Nemerovski
The player needed and needs to demonstrate a willingness to work with and without coach outside of normal practice times on pitching or any other skill the two agree need improvement. This will not ensure playing time this season but any following seasons the coach will give a good recommendation to next coaches in favor of player. One lesson not discussed: kids just being with either kids in the dugout, hopefully, treating each other with respect, supporting one another. There are many vital roles to play during a game having nothing to do with one’s own playing time. How many times have you notices players in the dugout not advising active players on what to look out for during the game: the #1 thing coaches harang about during games. The player in question should focus on their love of the game and how to support the coach and other players: both in and out of the game.
Download this cheat sheet to optimize underperforming posts on your website.