As a Parent what is my Role?
In my many years as a high school coach, I hear and can tell many stories on parents and what they say and do during their child's career. Enough stories to write a book that would take several days to read! Sometimes I like to think that 90 percent of what is said and done by parents is due to limited knowledge of a certain situation and/or how to handle situations. Unfortunately I know that while that is most often the case, things happen because a parent is just that, a parent.
So I decided to write an article on some do's and don'ts to help parents out who really have the best interest of their child and the relationship with "Juniors" coach involved.
Here are a few things to remember while your son goes through his high school career:
- Your coach is the man in charge of the program. Just like the CEO of a company, he calls all the shots and his number one job is to look out for the best interest of the entire program in the present and in the future. His job is not to make sure that "Junior" gets to start every game as a senior or play at least half the season. Every coach wants to win and will do what is best for the entire team, not just an individual.
- The Head Coach, and more than likely his assistants, are spending more time with your son, or for your son than you probably care to admit. This not only includes practices, bus rides and games in the spring, but also weight workouts, conditioning, individual skill-work, summer teams, field maintenance, raising money, talking with teachers and administrators about grades and discipline, and talking with college coaches about "junior" throughout the year. In addition to those duties, your coach is also keeping up with stats throughout the year, sending them to various papers, websites and publishing companies throughout the state that request them weekly. Another duty that you don't see your coach doing is making out a schedule for at least 2 teams (and at some places 3) for the year which include notifying umpires of these games and making up games that Mother Nature causes to be rescheduled. This is all done in addition to the job that he does from 8-3 each day inside the school building. My Point? Keep all these things that your coach is doing in mind when you want to claim his incompetence, inabilities, or lack of caring for your child and his best interest. Especially knowing what many coaches sacrifice with their own families for the 30 or so kids in his program.
- Your head coach wants your son to play baseball in college just as much as you do. Believe me, every coach wants the best for all of their players. However we are down to earth enough to know that not every kid in the program is going to make it. Just because someone besides you thinks "junior" is a player, doesn't mean he is. The one comment that I have heard (about myself and many other coaches) is : "His high school coach didn't do anything to help him play in college." This is the most unfair statement a parent can make about a high school coach. I guess the parents that make that statement forget about the fact that the high school coach spends more time with their son than the parents during the season working and teaching the game. You can see number 2 for more evidence of what your coach does for your son.
- Coaches will make mistakes. All of them do at some point or another. This may be an in-game decision or deciding on who should play. These mistakes are made from the high school level all the way up through the major league level. However, not everything that goes wrong is your coach's fault. It takes two to tango, and most often parents forget this. I always draw a chuckle when I go watch a game and a player makes an error on a routine ball and a parent yells, or comments something regarding the coach. What did the coach do aside from putting that kid on the field? Nothing, but there has to be someone to blame and "junior" can't be it.
- This one has nothing to do with your coach, but more with you as a parent and a fan. Umpires are not out to get you. Sure the home team pays them, but that isn't the reason why calls go against you. All umpires are there for the love they have for the game. They do make mistakes, and many of them will admit it when they do. However, they all have to pass a rules test and work their way up to the varsity level. Some are good and some are not real good, but they are not out to get "junior" or your team on a call. Don't blame them for "Junior's" troubles.
- Eighth Graders, Freshmen and Sophomores on Varsity are "Varsity Players" not Jayvee players. If they play on the big team, then they are on the big team. Yes, it is possible for a Freshman to be better than a Senior. Even if that senior was an All-Star at some point during his little league career. If an underclassmen is playing in front of your son, it isn't because the coach doesn't like your son. Your coach wants to win and that means that the best guy is going to play. That guy is there because he is better than "Junior". Your coach isn't playing for the future, he is playing for now.
As a parent, I know that you probably feel like your coach should be more open and accessible to you especially concerning your child. Some coaches are very open and don't mind to talk. Others are very private and not open to discussions with parents. My advice to you is to respect your coach whichever category he fits into. Again, see #1 above for the reason why.
What do I do if I really need to talk to my son's coach about my son?
First and foremost email, or call the coach about scheduling a time to do so that fits into his schedule. Let him make the time. Don't bombard him after a game or at practice. That isn't the way things get done. Come to meeting calm even if the subject is a sore one with you. Chances are you don't have all the information because "Junior" has selective hearing and/or doesn't always communicate the full message or conversation. Over my years, I have had many a meeting that has ended within the first few minutes of me explaining the entire situation (90% of which "Junior" didn't tell mom or dad). Usually the parent comes in mad at me and leaves upset that their son didn't fully communicate with them, so they now look like a fool with the coach. Hey, it happens, but make sure you got it all straight with "Junior" before you come in.
Another good idea is to bring "Junior" to the meeting. He can talk for himself and not have you do it. Plus it shows the coach that this is a concern of player, not just the parent. I always hate meetings that start with the parent saying "My son has no idea I am here and I want it to stay that way."
Really, then are you there for your son, or for your sake? If you don't want to bring "Junior" with you, then chances are "Junior" doesn't have a problem, its just you that does. Don't think an email conversation is the best way to handle the situation. You need to come in a talk face to face. Always, always be prepared to hear the truth from the coach. He isn't going to tell you what you want to hear to get you out of his hair. He is going to be honest, because you are asking him to be. Honest words can often be the hardest to hear for a parent.
What are some things that are not acceptable topics to talk about?
- Playing time - especially comparing "Junior" to someone else
- Game Strategy- Your coach knows baseball. If you want to coach the team, get certified to teach and apply for a coaching job.
- Practice organization, or procedures. See #2
- What does next year look like for "junior"? - Your coach doesn't know this and even if he has an idea, he certainly isn't going to share his thoughts with a parent to go share with others and create more problems for himself.
What are good questions to ask a coach?
- What can my son do to get better?
- Is there any time he can get extra work?
- What does my son need to improve on to have a shot to play?
What do I do if my son wants to play in college?
First, talk with your high school coach and get his thoughts and ideas on where your son can play. Most high school coaches have an idea what level your son can play at and will share that with you. Again, be prepared to hear the honest truth. Get your coach's thoughts on how and what your son can do to put himself in a position to play in front of college coaches. Whether it is a showcase, tournament, or camp, chances are your coach has an idea of what is out there. If you get nowhere with all or that, then go get a second opinion from someone else. Please, do not get an outside opinion without first talking with your high school coach. He spends the most "baseball" time with your son and should be the first one considered. Also, when your son does commit, make sure your coach finds out from your son and not from the local paper, or a website. There again, he spends the most "baseball" time with your son.
Being a parent isn't easy, I know that first-hand, but being a coach dealing with disruptive parents is even tougher. Respect the job your coach does. I am sure he respects the job that you do as a parent.