How to deal with troubled decent player and his parents?

By admin •  Updated: 06/09/14 •  20 min read

I have been assistant coach for two years on this team. Head coach has been there for four4 years. This year, my father and another parent joined our coaching team.

Two years ago we picked this kid who was 10 at the time. He ended up being one of the top pitchers in our AAA loop. He doesn’t hit bad, but strikes out a lot. Can’t run smart or fast. Can’t play any position except pitcher. He also cries, screams and throws things when things don’t go his way. He has hit sac flies that have won games and still throws a temper tantrum.

This player’s parents think he is a god and should get to play every position he wants and pitch every game. Our other kids emotions have gone downhill because of this. His parents complain to the league that we are bad coaches.

The three of us convinced the head coach to take him for this last year and we would deal with him and his parents. He never solved his issues and even got worse.

His parents said nothing until the week before our tryouts for next year. The parents complained to league, higher sources and tried convincing other parents to complain. The league obviously doesn’t want to get involved.

We are in a position now where we feel we need to cut him for the sake of saving the other kids. None of the kids really like him. The parents are nuts and two-faced. I can’t cut a kid because of his parents, but attitude towards the game and other players yes. The problem is he is better then half the kids.

Any suggestions? Tryouts end in a week.

Our Coach’s Answer

Thanks for the question and I am sorry you are having to deal with this issue.

I try to answer the baseball questions on my site using my gut-feeling and not trying to “over-think” the issue at hand. With that said and based on what you have explained above, I would not hesitate one bit to cut him.

He has, over and over, disrupted your team with his behavior. His behavior does reflect on you and your team. As a youth coach, his parents also have an impact on the rest of your players and parents.

Good coaches don’t bend on player behavior expectations. If you don’t cut him, other players may decide to not play for you due to him. You will be surprised how much more coaching you can do once this player is not on the team anymore. Other players may even step up and replace his talent.

To make a long story short, it seems like you have given this baseball player and his parents plenty of time to make some changes. They have not. It is time to cut ties and move on for the betterment of the rest of your team.

ESPN Radio Show Dedicates Show to this EXACT Question!

I was contacted by Tony Fiorino about using this question as a topic for his youth sports radio show out of New York and Connecticut. Tony is the host of ESPN Radio’s “Hey Coach Tony”. Below is the video of the show where he discusses this question and takes phone calls from listeners.

Take the time to listen!

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Share Your Thoughts

Please help this coach out and share your thoughts on this by commenting below. Grateful!

Comments for How to deal with troubled decent player and his parents?

Oct 03, 2011

why so black and white?

by: Hey Coach Tony on ESPN Radio


Seems to me that there is still a chance to teach someone a lesson WHILE being stern. If you cut this kid, it would be like a teacher giving a passing grade to a moron athlete who didn’t earn it…you’re making this kid and his parents someone else’s problem. Best way to teach a parent a lesson is PLAYING TIME. If you haven’t already laid out a clear code of conduct WITH CONSEQUENCES, that is a mistake but still fixable. The next time the kid acts up, call time out and bench him. It will become clear to the kid and his parents that behavior like that will simply not be tolerated.

Fact is, most coaches are idiots and will kiss the butt of a talented kid and his parents. Don’t fall into that trap.

I love this topic and would love to cover it on my show. Only problem is I would need to know if there is enough interest on this forum for people to listen in and call with their thoughts.

Any takers?


Coach Tony

Sep 26, 2011

Cut or Keep?

by: Neil

I would have a meeting with the player and the parents as soon as possible. The coaching staff should explain the situation. Talk about the positives and negatives the player brings to the team and the impact of those positives and negatives on the coaching staff and the team players. Document a list(make sure the player knows the list can be added to) of the Negatives the player exhibits and explain that they will not be tolerated. Draft a conduct contract that applies to the whole team and all should sign off on it. Post it in the dugout along with a list of what actions will be taken if the player violates the conduct policy. The punishments of the player should be graduated so each violation is more sever. Removal from an Inning, Suspension from game, multiple game suspension, and removal from team . Whatever you think will motivate the player. Remember the goal is to change his behavior not kick him off. The coaching staff should have inning by inning, game by game, week by week, meetings as needed with the player and parents to give positive and negative feedback on how he is doing. If the player and parents cannot agree to the rules you set down you need to tell them straight out you will not have him on the team. It is a lot more work. But this lets the kid and parents know what is expected of them and gives the kid a chance to change his behavior. It lets you coach a team without disruptive behavior with clear rules and consequences.

Sep 25, 2011

Been There.

by: Anonymous

I agree with coach Henze. I have also been in the same situation. You can deal with the player, but when the parents get involved and start creating additional distractions with other parents, it is time to cut him. His behavior alone justifies your decision to cut him, but believe me, when the parents of this player start causing problems by going to other parents, you have no choice. No one player is worth more than the team. You will find your remaining players will respond in a positive manner and you will be a better team for it.

Coach Tom

Sep 25, 2011

Troubled Athlete

by: Anonymous

I understand the player has talent but I would rather lose 1 player than the remainder of the team. He should be setting an example being one of the senior players on your team. In other words “Cut Bait”!!

Sep 24, 2011


by: John C


Alot of Teams have kids who also go to the same school. This is an opportunity for you as Coaches to make a positive impact on the kids both on and off the field. No matter what sport you coach. Please implement a ZERO tolerance for bullying. As teammates these kids can have an impact on their fellow students who are being teased, taunted and physically abused. Teaching them to step in to stifle this behavior will create a safe environment for those who are less able to stand up for themselves. In some cases the bully is an athlete who may even be a player on your team. Ask questions, communicate. The kids all know who these bullies are. They may not tell their parents but they will talk to their coaches. There is a different respect that players have for their coaches. This solidarity will show both on and off the field. Your team will be closer and act more cohesive while also building a ZERO TOLERANCE towards those who feel the need to do harm towards others. Don’t be afraid to search out those who are being bullied. In some cases it may even be your own player/son.

Sep 24, 2011

Troubled players

by: John C

I am a parent of a 11U player. I pulled my son from the team after try outs. We had several players with behavioral issues. Which was in part one of the reasons that I pulled him. One player would throw his helmet and bat after making an out. Another would break down on the mound flailing about. Another was very negative towards his teammates calling them losers after the game. Like many teams this one was coached by Fathers. The 3 players mentioned were coaches kids. If you must have these players on your team., you must (1) Bat them last until their behavior changes (2) Play them less innings (3) Do not pitch them (4) Make sure to emphasize the reason for their demotion before each game. You will see a noticeable difference in their behavior. The few games it will take to readjust their attitude will payoff in the long run. DO NOT HESITATE TO BENCH THEM FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE GAME IF THE ATTITUDE RETURNS. The parents do not have a voice when it comes to fielding your team. As long as everyone is treated equally you will never be wrong. Never reward poor behavior.

Communicate to the kids the importance of TEAM and SPORTSMANSHIP. The kids that play the game right deserve better from the coaches. Good Luck

Sep 23, 2011

troubled player/parents

by: Anonymous

is it possible to tell the parents that they have to enter the draft? since it is a new season some leagues require most of the kids to enter the draft to make it fair. you can only protect 5 players from your team. that may be an easy way for you to get rid of this problem, but it all starts with the parents. ground rules must be set into place on the first day of practice, if they don’t like it then they can walk. if rules are broken then i think it’s ok to ask them to leave your team. remember we a only volunteer coaches and spending our free time to teach these kids the sport, not to babysit.

Sep 23, 2011

Addition by Subtraction

by: Dan Hoefs

I am not going to hash through your letter as it sounds to me as if everything you said has been really thought out quite well. The fact that he is better than half your players is irrelevant to the development of your team and trying to teach kids what is right beyond just baseball. Have you ever heard the phrase ?addition by subtraction?? I think it applies here. Maybe it will be a wake-up call for this kid and his parents and it will help them to finally ?get it.? You said the league won?t take a stance, so I think you should take a stance. If the parents try to make trouble it may force the league into addressing issues like this. My two cents worth………………….

Good luck!!

Sep 23, 2011

You should cut the player.

by: Reggie

There is more to being a good baseball player than being able to run faster, throw harder and produce more hits. You must have a positive attitude and represent your team in a respectful way. This player may perform better, but his negative energy seems to stifle the team. I would cut him knowing you gave him adequate chances to change.

Sep 23, 2011

Troubled Youth Baseball Player

by: Anonymous

I have experienced similar situations during the past two years in my 9-10-11 year old teams and I have some thoughts.

At this age, there is no room on a team that wants to be competitive for a player who is a “specialist”. 9-10-11 years old teams should be filled with all around players who can contribute in most aspects of the game to their team’s success and are willing to learn all aspects of the game for their own improvement, too.

Not withstanding the fact that he is only good at pitching, outbursts like you describe cannot be tolerated. They are detrimental to team as well as player and parent morale, expectations and actions. What happens when another team player exhibits these same attitudes and actions and nothing was ever done with your “problem” player over these same instances? How do you justify any actions against the second or third or fourth player!

I’m sorry to see you are in this pickle. With tryouts around the corner for you there is no adequate time left to sit down and have a “come to Jesus” talk with the parents and the player. In my opinion you must do what is best for the team… CUT HIM !

Sep 23, 2011

Team-Wide Meeting

by: Coach Tommy Satterfield

I would recommend that this team have a team wide parent/player conduct policy. This way if a kid, or parent did not play within the rules of a team, they would be removed from the team, no questions asked. I would also recommend adding that all money paid to the team are non-refundable.

Sep 23, 2011

Cutting him is the right move

by: Anonymous


I have been in the very same situation, the only difference being the player’s dad was one of my assistant coaches. Keeping in mind that we coach and these boys play to win, I can understand the challenge of cutting a dominant pitcher. All parents expect the coach to put together the most competitive team possible. That being said, it is easy to focus on one player’s talent and overlook the big picture. The negative impact could far outweigh any positive impact. The rest of your team is counting on you to provide a positive, fun and competitive environment. One player does not make a baseball team, and it is quite possible that the removal of this player could have a very positive impact on your teams success.

Plus, from what you say about the parents, I don’t think they will lose any sleep from this. Some parents are just toxic. It is apparent that their behaviors are having a negative impact on their child.

Cut him and move on with your team.

Good luck,

Coach James

Sep 23, 2011

Should you Cut Him or not?

by: Anonymous

I have had similar issues and think sometimes it is harder when the player is very good but has a disruptive attitudes/emotions.

In this case, I think it is much easier as it would appear he is a border-line player. Cut him.

I think the needs and health of the team out weigh those of one individual. If you don’t, the other parents and kids are going to start looking else where and or question your ability to coach.

Best of luck.

Sep 23, 2011

It’s all about the kids

by: Coach Cumiskey

I would not hesitate to cut this type of player. The focus of Youth Baseball should be on teaching the players the skills necessary to succeed in baseball and, more importantly, to have fun. If the environment is not fun and the learning is hampered by a player and/or his parents, a coach needs to make a decision that will benefit his team as a whole and not just an individual player. Best of luck.

Sep 23, 2011

Troubled player

by: Anonymous

The child needs to go. I do not care even if he was your best player! I have both the parents and child on board other wise it will never work. You will see a difference in your players when he is gone.

Good Luck!

Sep 23, 2011

For the team but also for the player

by: SteelWill

Cutting him is for the betterment of the team, true enough. You owe it to the other players and families that are making sacrifices to become better ballplayers, sportsmen, and people in general.

But, it is also a teachable moment for him and his parents. If you have tried everything to reach this kid, and more importantly, his parents it’s time for a tough love approach. Cut him.

Until the parents stop enabling his behavior and poor work ethic, his baseball future is in doubt. They need a significant wake-up call. You owe it to that kid to provide it. The player and parents need to understand accountability. Unfortunately this is the only way I see to get his and his parents’ attention. Although judging from your description the call may fall on deaf ears–for now.

Sep 23, 2011

Cut and Run – Life is too Short

by: Dan Clemens – Author of A Perfect Season

Here’s the real issue: Why are you coaching and why do the kids play the game? Ultimately, we’re all there to learn, to compete, and to have fun. At least we should be. And that goes for both kids and adults.

In this situation, though, it sounds like one kid and set of parents has a different set of priorities, or hasn’t really grasped what youth sports should be about.

The question is, do you let one kid dictate the amount of fun, learning and competition that you and the other 10 kids will have? To whom are you trying to be fair? If winning is the most important thing, learn to live with the primadonna and own the headaches. However, even professional teams realize a star performer isn’t worth the loss in chemistry and encourage the T.O.s to go elsewhere.

Now, if it were a mild case of attitude or the kid had somewhat understanding or supporting parents, I’d seriously consider making it a learning opportunity for everyone. Part of our roles as coaches is to help kids and adults learn to have a healthy relationship with the game.

This situation does not sound like it fits that bill. A volunteer coaching staff shouldn’t be expected to take on this level of challenge.

At tryouts and drafts, I’ve passed on talented kids who were as good or better than the best players on my team. But after listening to them talk about themselves (all ego), watching them interact with their parents (there’s no fun in dysfunction), and then listening to their parents tell me how bad their last coach was, I’ve realized it wouldn’t be a good fit.

In the end I’d rather enjoy a .500 season than endure the torture and drama of a dysfunctional team that might contend for the championship.

Sep 23, 2011

Should Player be Cut

by: Coach Medlen


Without more information I would highly suggest you and your Coaching staff sit down and set the expectations with the Player and Parents.

Coaching is teaching real life lessons. If this has clearly been done and your gut is telling you not to cut this player then at this point it is up to one coach to take ownership of this player for the season.

I have had many cases in my experience that this has worked well for the player and the TEAM.

I believe if you set the expectations and then follow through it will be a win – win situation if the player remains or ends up being cut it will show your true leadership qualities.

I use John Wooden’s quote often: “If you fail to prepare then prepare to fail”.

Hope this helps but I can tell you if you find a way you will feel very good and it will show others you can overcome adversity.


Coach Medlen

Sep 23, 2011

All Coaches Must Agree

by: Cory

Well first of all the coaching staff has to agree on the decision and become 1 with the decision (first and foremost). Depending on the choice

made, either way you need to sit down and talk to the parents and let them know that we are not allowing your child to act the way he has in the past if he wants to be part of the team. He brings the other kids morale down and it has affected the way the other kids play the game.

Obviously, there are other parents who see this type of behavior and it is ultimately your responsibility as coaches to deal with it. As hard

as it may seem, every team has their issues but it’s how the coaches deal with it that matters. Of course, in our politically society it makes it

really tough to do sometimes.

Good Luck!

Sep 23, 2011

I agree

by: Anonymous

I agree with most thoughts on this. Just to clarify “you did speak clearly about the expectations from the player”?

Sep 23, 2011

Cut This Baseball Player

by: Dave

I would cut this player. Baseball is a team sport and this kid and his parents only seem to focus on him. Every parent wants their kid to do well but the parents also need to teach the kid the right attitude. Until he has an attitude change I wouldn’t want him.

Sep 23, 2011

Why are you waiting?

by: Anonymous

This child’s poisonous behavior is spreading so rapidly within your team, you may soon be overwhelmed by the repercussions. I presume that you met with the parents LONG ago about the continued misbehavior of the child. Therefore, it is time to cut your losses–don’t EVEN consider what a “talent” he is. That should be the LEAST of your concerns, if at all, under these circumstances. The league should back you, and if there was no parent/player contract involved at the beginning of the season, officials ought to be ready and willing to make a pro-rata return of league fees. Good Luck.

Sep 23, 2011

Cut Him Loose

by: Anonymous

I think baseball is more about discipline than other sports….and more about being smart. Always being baseball smart or baseball ready.

I would cut this kid in a heart beat. If I was weighing that decision I would put the parents at about 30-40% of that decision.

TIM in New England

Sep 23, 2011

Cut This Player

by: Anonymous

I agree with Coach Henze, i wouldn’t hesitate to cut him at all. I coach traveling baseball and I have cut kids before for the same reason. I’ve even cut kids just because of their parents. When your spending 6-8 months a year together, there’s no reasons to have to put up with it or have to deal with it…