To All Volunteer Baseball Coaches…

Baseball season is about to start for Lorain Youth Baseball. My kids were in the program for 8 and 7 years, respectively. They had their fair share of coaches over that time, some were fair, and some were not. There’s not a lot anyone can do, or that LYB is willing to do, because they are volunteers. So, based on what I’ve seen, and what my kids have experienced, this is for all those coaches to think about:

Treat all the kids the same. If one player screws up and you say something to him/her, make sure you do it to the next one that makes the same screw-up. Especially if it’s your child.

Establish the importance of coming to practice. Do not favor kids that have more experience playing and blow off practice. A team practices and plays TOGETHER. That includes your kids.

If you have a girl on your team, and she’s better than some of the boys, do not put her in the outfield because you don’t want to embarrass the boys. If she earns a spot in the infield, GIVE IT TO HER.

Do not talk about some of your players to other players IN FRONT OF THE PLAYERS YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. One coach was as insensitive as anyone I’ve ever seen.  He told one player he was going in to catch, and then told him a little later he was going to put in the best catcher he had, which was another player. That player threw the ball into the outfield twice trying to throw to 2nd base, and allowed 2 passed balls, which let a few runs score, thus losing the game. This same coach then pulled 4 boys aside, and told them he wanted them in yet another All-Star game, and did this in front of six other boys. No tact whatsoever.

If you plan on playing your son/nephew/best friend’s kid regardless of his talent, then you should tell the other players on the team that up front. Don’t let these kids believe that they are all competing for positions when you plan on showcasing your kids regardless.  One coach that I’ll call ‘Ray’, had his two sons on the team. Neither of them played with any real passion or intensity, yet they got the bulk of the playing time. They couldn’t catch a ball hit right to them, and though the one ‘pitched’ quite often, he frequently walked the bases loaded MULTIPLE times per game. They often missed practice because they had other sports practice.  Way to be fair, ‘Ray.’ Ray also played the girl in the outfield, and the minimum 2 innings per game, even though she played harder and better than his kids.

Don’t yell and scream at the kids. Take them aside and explain to them what they did. If they don’t listen or they don’t play hard, then you sit them except for their two innings. If they want to play, they’ll try harder and they’ll pay attention.

Coach fair. One coach was very aggressive, trained his players well, and they performed well. However, he would rant and rave from the sidelines if the opposing team did something, and then have his kids do it just a few innings later. Don’t be a hypocrite.

There are other things that I’ll probably think of later, and I’ll add’em to the comments. But of all the coaches that I’ve seen that volunteered to coach for Lorain Youth Baseball, there were three that deserve recognition and mention. Eric Morgan, Carl Gray, and Tony Krasienko (yes, that Tony Krasienko) were patient, considerate and fair. The kids responded well to their guidance, and respected them for it. And they played like it, too. Eric and Tony’s teams went all the way to the championship. Carl’s team, the one year, was hampered by many of the players not making it to the games. However, in one game his 5 players out-hit, out-fielded and out-scored a 9-player team. And one of those 5 players was a girl who he showed no favors to. A tip of the ballcap to these three men.  Youth baseball needs more men like these.  

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4 thoughts on “To All Volunteer Baseball Coaches…

  1. Ah, Baseball season and coaching, two things near and dear to my heart.(Yes, thanks to you I now understand a rant when I read one!) Unfortunately I suspect your blog will not be read by those that need to read it the most. And if they do read it,I am sure they will find ways to deny that they fit into any of your catagories.
    I realized something yesterday as I watched my daughters soccer practice and looked in on a baseball practice. Most coaches are ill equiped to coach. They are not skilled enough in the game to actually teach it and they are not skilled enough in teaching little ones. And to follow up on your comments, if you as an adult do not know the game, or how to behave, how are you going to teach it? In the end, athletics are a metaphore for life. Work hard, compromise, get along and we all get ahead.
    Through 15 years of baseball we have had both good and bad coaches,( mostly bad). Two things on that, 1) No matter how bad it got I always told my son that this was a learning experience, seldom will things go right, and for the most part, people are difficult. The sooner the kid learns that life is tough, the better equiped to navigate that life. 2) Make it a no option option for the coach to play you. Work harder, longer and become the player that the coach can’t afford not to have on the field. This goes for school and your eventual career also.
    Eric Morgan is one heck of a man. A true man, teacher, and athlete. He gets it. I am proud to count him as a friend.

  2. Oh Ben don’t get me started on “soccer” there hasn’t been ONE soccer coach in this country and I saw plenty in the many many years Chris played that could teach a “proper header” so it doesn’t beat the kids brains about…. very dangerous…… and as they got old to “teach a sliding tackle” ooooooo you got me started ….. in the end I brought in coaches from England ( professional) to teach camps….a proper headed done the way it is meant to be can not only protect the player but also win the game 🙂 it is about direction!

  3. Very true Loraine,
    While I believe their “hearts are in the right place”, coaches that don’t really know the game do a great disservice to the children in the long run. That is why I never coached anything but basketball. But if it comes down to not being able to field a team due to lack of a “coach”, I guess you do what you have to do.
    That being said, perhaps LYB could partner with some organization (Crushers, Ironmen, LCCC,CSU, Oberlin College) and do a “coach the coaches” clinic or two. Similar to what LYSA has done with PSA. And add another day for sportsmanship/proper behavior much like the CYO program (Mark, you could put this on).
    Pitchers beware. Send your child to a real pitching coach before they hurt themselves. Oberlin college offers a great winter program that pays dividens! Too often youth “coaches” let the kids throw without a true understanding of proper mechanics and end up causing long lasting damage. Please have someone that knows what they are doing tweek your pitcher’s motion. Much like Loraine said with the headers, not doing things right will cause headaches in the end( in her case for real)

  4. Definitely a problem , even with what we call “bubble gum ballet” the bottom line is coaches, instructors are dealing with young and growing limbs what they do can impact a child .and remember it is very rare for a child to end up in the professional world of sports or dance …coaches can have a greater impact on a childs well being than most realize….. Loraine

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