As a parent of a JV baseball player in a rural county, I am extremely frustrated by the politics in baseball and brown-nosing that goes on with our team. We have a fairly young coach who hasn’t set definite boundaries with parents and so now there are several “chain-link-fence-Dads” who seem to have his ear regarding the team.
Their sons play the whole game, every game while 4-6 of their teammates including my son sit on the bench the whole time. Since our high school is 8th – 12th grade, the JV team is made up of players in 8th – 10th grade. We also occasionally have varsity players who come down to play JV. This means that there are sometimes 16 players on the roster. In 10 games so far, I think my son and his “benchmates” have played no more than 7 or 8 innings! It’s obvious when you are watching a game that the whole team is demoralized and unmotivated. Errors kill us in every game – in one game there were 7 errors in one inning! Yesterday, one player alone committed 3 errors and struck out twice but still played the whole game. His dad is one of those who politics the coach.
Now, I will be the first to admit that my son is not the best player, and I’m not expecting him to play the whole game. This is only his 4th year playing and he is still developing. But he loves the game and just wants a chance to play and prove himself. I imagine that his benchmates feel the same way. I have encouraged my son to talk with his coach and ask what he needs to do to earn playing time, but he’s afraid to do that because another player asked the coach that question (albeit during a game) and got his head bitten off.
So…what do you do in this situation? We’ve invested in private lessons for our son and just bought a Swingaway to help with his hitting, but that will only help him personally. How do you deal with a coach who doesn’t or can’t see your son because he’s too worried about the kids of these politickers?
Coach Henze’s Answer
Thanks for the question on politics in baseball.
Well, it seems like there is some stress on your kid’s high school baseball team. I hope you understand that I cannot determine if your son is good enough to play some or not… I simply have never seen him play nor the other players on the team.
What grade is your son in? Is he a senior?
There are some kids that simply should not play. We have kept a few players, over the course of years, that simply love baseball and want to be part of the team. We are up front with them and explain their role on the team and that playing time may not happen. If they are good with that, they become a great team player and motivator for the other kids. If they don’t like that role, then they are free to choose not to be on the team. It takes a special kid to accept that role, but if they do, their place on team is just as important as anyone else.
With your situation, I would recommend that your son, respectfully, sets up a time to meet with his head coach. Don’t ask during a game or practice. Simply find the coach outside of baseball situation and ask him for the meeting.
During their meeting, ask the coach what he thinks of him as a player, what he should work on to play more and if he has a chance to get some more playing time in the future. Encourage your son to be clear in that he really does want to improve, play more and that he fully intends to work hard to make that happen. This will include hard work outside of organized baseball practice. He will have to continue to work on his own.
As for the politics in baseball goes… That can be a problem anywhere. However, just because a dad is always at the chain link fence, doesn’t mean he is bad. Remember that most parents simply want the best for their child. If they are simply there watching, that is fine. If they are talking to the coach during game and pressuring him to play their son (either at fence or any other time), that is a totally different issue.
To make a long story short… Your son needs to respectively communicate his thoughts with the coach, continue to work hard and hopefully he will get some more playing time. If the playing time never comes, he will always know that he took the “high road” and worked hard. Nobody should EVER regret that!
I love the term “Chain Link Fence Dads.” I may have to start using that term some. 🙂
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Jul 28, 2013
Well, I do understand the level of frustration felt by parents who have to watch their sons or daughters warm the bench while other kids are making errors, quitting the team and coming back, missing plays, and striking out with no hits in a game. Are you kidding me????? Really???? Talk to the “Coach”? Most of the time the coach is out to please everyone and the less squeaky parent is walked over. That is what we have witnessed. It is very sad b/c this does move up in the ranks. I feel as teachers are evaluated so should coaches. If you can not stand up for what it right and play young folks fairly, train horses or trim trees….your not coaching material!
May 21, 2012
Try to ignore the politics
by: Neil Malm
Politics on the field and off is always frustrating and hard to deal with because you often can’t do anything about the politicking
That is why it is probably better to not try. Instead deal with what you can effect. That is your sons skill level.
It seems clear there is an opportunity to play if your son can improve his skills.
I would offer a example of success I saw at the high school level.
I had a cousin and three of his friends decide they wanted to win a State Championship in Basketball their senior year. They then called their friends and each other up and set up times to get into town and play. They called teachers and coaches to open up gyms so they could play. They got parents and me to drive them to the gyms. During the season (off season as well) my cousin would come home after school and Basketball practice. Do his homework, eat dinner and an hour later grab me and go up in the barn loft where there was a goal and practice for an hour or more. They went undefeated their senior year even though my cousin turned his ankle badly the day before the season started.
So I would recommend your son to set some goals, personal, and team. Have him get together with friends, the other bench players, or any other(s) and do the same. (Keep the coach informed) Have the kids set up some extra practice times together and by himself. These are all things that he can do himself to get better and get on the field.
In the end making plays wins out over the politics.
Apr 21, 2012
I too am experiencing the same “politics” my grandson has been a catcher for 5 years however when he went into Jr.s, the head coach’s son became catcher, the assistant coaches son became second catcher and the other assistant coaches son became pitcher. To be fair, we have two other non coach pitchers. I like the idea of talking openly to your coach but my question is: You stated that some kids are just not going to become players and they are comfortable with that knowledge, have you told them this reality? Also, how can you let a kid sit on the bench all but one or two innings and expectt them to perform?
Apr 20, 2012
When Dads kill work ethics
Help your player with extra work beyond practice. Perform online research to ensure you teach conventional methods as there is a lot of wrong information being taught. Teach your player to sell his potential in practice.
Apr 19, 2012
Chain Link Dads
by: Coach T
I understand her frustration. Especially when you see what you think might be “advice” being given by those Dad’s along the fence.
I agree with the first advice though, it is up to your son to talk to the coach, outside of games or practice, to convey his thoughts and desires.. be sure to emphasize the “what can I do to improve and EARN playing time.. As a coach, I respect a player that handles it this way.
And if the play on the field of the current players, is as described, then the coach should be looking for some way to improve his teams chance to win, that would coincide with the player voicing his desire to improve, etc..
One additional comment though, if you have any other option, one that does not have a situation where that many different ages are competing for positions, I would move on and try to find a team that has the same age players as your son.
Combining age groups that are that much apart does not help most younger players, as they can quickly become discouraged when they are dominated by players that are older and stronger, etc..
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