What do you do when your child (or you) doesn’t like a coach?
If you have been involved with youth sports at all, you know that there are many different coaches. Some coaches are good; some are not so good. Some coaches are better than others. Some that may seem bad or good may just be the opposite. So what do you do when your son or daughter comes home and complains about the coach?
When it comes to recreational sports, like little league, ponytail, pop warner football, etc., coaches are volunteers and you may have little say about who coaches your child. Most states and organizations require that the coaches, even volunteers are checked out. Many have to go through a background check and be fingerprinted. For high school sports, that is a requirement. For travel ball or club ball, while I believe better steps are being implemented to check out coaches, but there you have more say so in choosing what team your son or daughter plays for. Perhaps your son or daughter is on that bubble where you may only have one or two teams who invite them to join.
So once your child has joined a team, it is a good opportunity to teach your child about commitment. You all might be excited about being selected for a team only to find out later that it wasn’t quite what you thought it would be. Or perhaps, there was a conflict along the way and now you feel some tension with team members or the coach. Too many parents allow their sons or daughters to quit teams too easily in my opinion. It is sort of a “grass is greener on the other side” scenario. If you don’t water any grass it soon turns brown, regardless of what side of the fence you’re on.
It is a frustrating thing for a coach when a player is quick to chime in, usually during some instruction, “well, that’s now how my last coach said to do it.” With a club or travel team, or even some high school teams, you might be invited to go back and play for that “last coach.” Young athletes need to learn how to play for different coaches. Just because you don’t like a coach doesn’t mean they aren’t a good coach. Players respond differently to different coaches so while you might not like the coach, three other players on your team might think he or she is the greatest coach they’ve ever had. Change your focus to trying to learn everything you can from that coach. If you quit too many teams, you are not doing your child any favors and you will soon earn a reputation which might make it more difficult for your child later.
In my daughter’s travel ball career, which lasted seven years, we left three teams. On one, they had a huge recruiting bonus because they made the championship game in a national tournament. They suddenly had seven pitchers. As you can imagine, my daughter got very little pitching or playing time. At the Christmas break, we found another team. Jessica said she would prefer to stay with the first team, and the manager said they were going to use her more. We would have liked that too because their practice was 5 minutes away where the other team was 30 minutes away. So Jessica was going to both practices. After the first friendly, Jessica got to pitch to two batters. When we got home there was an email from the new team saying they had a uniform with Jessica’s number on it. That was one we left. But we didn’t leave on bad terms and we didn’t leave in the crucial part of the season.
One team we left because they could never get enough players to play. The third team we left we did so after the assistant coach, who liked Jessica a lot, told us the head coach wasn’t going to use her. He had brought in a superstar pitcher, who I found out later was overused and had to lay off a year. Other than those examples we completed our commitment to every team Jessica played on.
Parents, one of the benefits of sports is that it can teach your child how to deal with adversity. That means even playing for a coach that you may not like very much. Unless there is a situation that is totally unbearable, such as inappropriate behavior taking place, abusive language or actions by coaches or teammates, or something extreme where you son or daughter could be physically or emotionally harmed (I’m not just talking about being bent out of shape a little), help them deal with the negatives and look for the positives. Help them learn to take something positive, to learn something new, out of every situation.
Have a great week.