Volunteer coaches are at the heart of 9-14u youth baseball. If you coach the right way and at a high level, it is an incredibly time consuming activity. And, more than time, it absorbs an enormous amount of emotion and energy. The guys who do this while also working full time jobs are true servants to the sport of baseball and to young men. This is especially true at higher competition levels. Coaching is like a second job, except without pay and longer hours.
Most volunteer coaches at this age group are also dads. It is incredibly challenging to coach your own son while also trying to coach a high level team. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done. You cannot understand this unless you have done it. You are pulled in so many directions. It swings like a roller coaster from incredibly satisfying to incredibly frustrating, and back again. Dad coaches who do it right and can stay balanced are candidates for sainthood. I was not even close.
Parents in the stands need to be thankful for the coaches who do volunteer their time and appreciate the service they are providing. And, parents need to be supportive of coaches. It is really hard for a player to play for a coach that is constantly criticized by parents in the car ride home. It turns into a death spiral pretty quickly and the young player usually ends up with short-end of the stick, because they get less comfortable with playing, play with less confidence and start using the coach as an excuse for poor effort.
So — to volunteer coaches, especially dads, thanks for your important contribution to youth baseball.
To parents, please appreciate of the hard work and service volunteer coaches are providing. Accept the fact that mistakes are going to be made and keep things in perspective. 80% of the coaches are doing things for the right reasons and trying to do things the right way.
Regarding the other 20%, don’t let your son play for them ! That 20% is easy to spot at the select level of baseball:
– They are personally vested into winning instead of actually working with kids to get better. Their relationship with players is one-way, and players are a tool for them to get an ego boost from $4 trophy on Sundays. This is easy to spot by observing the interactions between the player and the coach and also by watching pitch counts climb to crazy levels.
– They are focused primarily on just recruiting early puberty kids instead of using the principles of hard work and passion to develop them. This is easy to spot too — the players are large, the fundamentals are tiny and the coach spends more time talking to parents than to kids. These coaches are a lot more comfortable with a cell phone than a fungo.
Players are better off playing with a lower level team that is better coached, than to play for a 20% coach on a top level team. Ideally you can have both, but that takes some judgement and perspective.