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.