by Jeff B
( Wayne, NJ, USA)
- First year coaching
- 26 years old
- I have 20 years experience in baseball.
I have a 10 year old baseball player on the team that seems to resent me. He has been like this since the start of the season. He doesn’t listen, talks back, is very negative, and never gave my staff or myself a fair chance to be his baseball coaches.
It’s tough to discipline him because he just doesn’t care. I have caught him uttering things under his breath about me but he will not repeat it. All of the other kids seem to have taken to me quite well. I was thinking about approaching his father about his behavior, but he may be part of the problem and I would like to resolve it directly with the player.
How can I reach this kid without losing my temper, which is not far off?
COACH HENZE’S ANSWER
Thanks for the question Jeff!
This, just like dealing with some parents, is a very stressful part of being a coach. Below is a list of things I would suggest you do:
- KEEP YOUR COOL! – In your last sentence, you state that you are close to losing your temper… DON’T! This child is only one kid on your team. The rest of your team is keeping a close eye on how you handle this situation. If you lose your cool/temper, the only person that will lose is you…
- Discuss your concerns with his parents -I know you want to deal with the player on his behaviors, but it seems (based on your question) that you are probably past that point now. He is only 10 years old, so the parents need to know about his attitude/behavior.
As to your concern about the parent possibly being the problem… You could totally be correct, but you still need to address this issue. Otherwise, it will drag out for your entire team and make for a very long season.
Take an assistant coach, for support, with you when you meet with the parents. When you speak with them, give them the facts and tell them how you believe their child is as a player and how his attitude is being a detriment to the team. Be sure that everything you say can be backed up with facts. Give examples. Basically, don’t embellish any of the facts to make the situation worse than it is. That will backfire on you.
Again, be factual and keep your cool. If you guys (parents and coaches) cannot come to an agreement/solution, simply walk away and consider my next point below…
- Involve the board of directors or leaders of your organization – I am assuming that you are coaching a team that falls under the umbrella of a youth organization. If so, involve the director of your league. He should be able to help you with this problem.
If, after you have taken all steps to resolve this issue, the issue still isn’t resolved, it may be best for everyone (the player, the parents, the rest of your team and yourself) to walk your separate ways. Don’t let this conflict ruin the season for the other players on the team.
Either way, I would also recommend that you hold a team meeting to discuss rules/expectations for the rest of the year. Always be honest with the kids and tell them what is going to happen if they show you, or the rest of your baseball coaching staff, any disrespect. Clear the air on the entire team.
Detail your rules and what the consequences are for breaking them. Make sure they are all reasonable and then make sure to FOLLOW THROUGH with them, even if it is your best player that breaks one!
Lastly, I want to remind you to not forget the rest of your team while dealing with this difficult baseball player… Sometimes, players like this can consume all of your time and efforts. You will be much more successful if you focus most of your time on the kids that WANT to be there and learn from you.
Thanks again for the great question. I am sure there are people that would like to add or maybe disagree with my recommendation above. Please feel free to comment on this topic!
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