Difficulties with Parents Coaching their Children
It is not always easy being a parent of a baseball player. I should say it is rarely easy being a parent of a baseball player, as baseball success is very elusive.
Parents coaching their children often have many sleepless nights. Having owned a baseball academy for many years, I have noticed many common, baseball parenting concerns, and I often joke that parents coaching their children is what kept me in business. Although joking, there is some truth in that.
At one time or another, all parents of youth baseball players have found themselves with at least some of the following baseball parenting concerns.
Most parents mean well, but they go about coaching their own in negative ways. Unfortunately, I have seen parent-child relationships strained for years to come, when parents deal with these issues in an unproductive manner. Of course, there is often no one answer fits all as every child/parent relationship is different, but using some of the following suggestions gives parents the opportunity to have their kid’s baseball playing days the enjoyable experience they should be.
Baseball Concerns and Solutions for Parents Coaching their Children
1. “He never wants to work at it” – it is important to understand that baseball is not a game easily practiced alone. Parents, who want their child to practice baseball more should:
A. Offer to practice with child
B. Find them an instructional coach to work with
C. Have a positive, patient demeanor and one that does not force kids to practice, or inundate them with too much technical information.
D. Have the ability to practice with child, without giving any instruction, until child is comfortable listening to parent.
E. Keep the fun in the fundamentals.
2. “He/she won’t listen to me” – this baseball parent concern goes along with the previous one of course and parents should try the suggestions to number one above. Additionally, it is paramount that adults talk in a “matter of fact” voice when practicing and not an emotional one. This is not easy, as parents want baseball success so bad for their child. The emotional attachment makes working with one’s own more difficult. How parents say things makes all the difference. For example, saying, “You have to practice more” has a negative connotation whereas, “You will figure it out,” or “We will work on it,” gives kids a good feeling after bad performances.
3. “Great swing but can’t hit” or “They kill the ball in practice but never in games” – this is one of the most common and frustrating baseball parent concerns. This scenario can be the same for pitching and fielding. The solution often takes an understanding perspective, as nothing in sport can be more difficult to do and baffling to figure out than hitting, fielding, and throwing a baseball.
Things Parents Coaching their Children should try:
A. Do not tell players it is “in their head,” as the reason they are not hitting. Suggesting that something is mental is a very deflating thing for anyone to hear and an idea that probably does not exist until parents start to say it. Confidence only comes with baseball success, which will never come when adults tell kids they have “mental issues,” so to speak.
B. Have a knowledgeable coach check out the player’s mechanics so they can solve the problem, or at least give player something concrete to practice. Usually, player’s swings are not as good as they appear in practice – incorrect fundamentals are reason for bad in-game hitting and those do not always show up in practice.
C. Challenge kids in batting practice with game-like speeds and speed changes – players with good swing mechanics often adjust once challenged.
4. “We want her to get a college scholarship,” or “He is going to be a major leaguer,” – on the surface these are fine, admirable and possible goals– for the elite. Scholarships and professional baseball are only for the elite players, requiring talent, honed by many years of practice and sacrifice.
Parents should keep their hopes private and be careful of having unrealistic expectations. If it happens someday, that is great and will be up to the dedication and talent of the player, not the wishes of parents. Doing all they can to help players reach their dreams is great parenting but pushing the idea on to kids, who may not want the same goals, or have enough talent, is not.
5. “We just want her/him to have fun.” If that is the case then why do parents:
A. nag them about practicing more
B. get so upset when they have a bad game
C. sign them up for too many leagues, camps, clinics and lessons
D. berate the coach as an excuse for why your child is struggling
E. grill players right after games as to why they did what they did
F. tell kids to just “have fun” then insist on telling them what to do, to concentrate more and play harder
In other words, if parents simply want their kids to have fun, they should relax and help them in positive ways, and stop doing the things listed. If they want them to be a star, which is normal, follow suggestions under number four above. However, those parents should not insist they just want their kids to have fun, when it is apparent they want more.
Finally, the above baseball parenting concerns are normal for parents coaching their children, as wanting baseball success for them. Dealing with those concerns in a positive way leads to enjoyment for all, the way it should be.