A while back I was talking with a friend about our boys, summer plans, and their baseball seasons which were wrapping up at the time. His son has played on a competitive team for a while now, but in the course of the conversation he mentions that they’re not playing any summer tournaments, and in fact the team is disbanding.
It’s a problem that I unfortunately see and hear of far too often. A coach that started out great, encouraged the kids, gave everyone playing time, and focused on player development suddenly adopts a win at all costs mindset.
We’ve all seen it…at the start of the season this is your kids coach.
And three weeks later this is the coach…
He probably even has a really great reason as to why like “It’s important the kids experience success otherwise they’ll lose interest in the game.”
Sure that sounds reasonable, but the problem is, it is a lie!
This problem has been developing for some time. John O’Sullivan and the Changing the Game Project have built the mission of their organization around this problem. Check out his blog and organization. They’re doing good things.
So how do you avoid turning into “that guy”?
Baseball is Supposed to be Fun
What has helped me immensely is developing goals for myself, as the coach. My first two goals for every team that I’ve coached are very simple and they’re all I really care about.
- Every single player on the team improves their baseball skill level
- The kids had enough fun to want to come back and play next season
Every decision I make as a coach must pass through this filter and help achieve these two goals. If it doesn’t then it’s a mistake and I must find a better solution. PERIOD!
Frankly this should be every coaches first two goals. If you can’t help your players improve or let you kids have fun, then you don’t need to be a coach.
As a coach you are the leader and tone setter, not just for the kids on your team, but the parents. You may not realize it, but you have the ability to change how your parents behave around the baseball field and how they interact with their child at home regarding baseball.
As coaches we can be a powerful influence on the lives of the kids we coach. We can either use that to enrich their lives or we can be the guy who has a team disband because his players don’t want to play baseball anymore.
Coaches, you set the tone for your players and parents regarding what the objectives for the season are and how you will measure success. HINT: If it’s the number of wins then you’re a part of the problem
QUESTION: What issues do you see in youth baseball that’s causing young kids to leave the game?
Post your answer in the comments section below.