Home » Making Club Sports Better For ALL Athletes - Part II: Approaching Coaches

Making Club Sports Better For ALL Athletes - Part II: Approaching Coaches

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Ok . . .  you’ve just watched the girl who starts over your daughter put the eighth straight set she’s received into the net yet the girl stays in OR you’ve just watched the guard on the opposing team put a sixth straight move on the boy who starts over your son for an easy lay-up and yet, the boy stays in OR you just watched the kid who starts pitching over your child give up the sixth straight run of the inning, oh and he did this in most of his previous starts as well, and yet, this same kid will be in the starting rotation a few days from now.  And, yes, you’re watching this while also watching your child sit the bench.  Your child is cheering. . . .supporting the team . . . supporting his/her team-mate . . . but you KNOW what's aching in your kid’s heart.“Why can’t I get in there?  Why can’t I play?”

I really am seeking answers in response to this blog entry.  Have any of you gotten any answers from the coach when you’ve seen this kind of practice on game-day after game-day?To make matters worse, have any of you seen performances like the ones I mentioned above in practices where these performances are counter-balanced by your child’s performance (where you child is NOT hitting it into the net or not getting easily beat on the low post, or not giving up hit after hit) AND you’ve been told, your child’s been told, that playing time is earned in practice?!?What do you do when your heart AND brain just can’t reconcile what you see on game day AND in practices from starters and from what you see from your child in practices and when they do get their small bit of time on the court or on the field?Our time with club and even high school sports have led us into the belief system that, really, the coach is GOD. And . . . .you don’t question GOD. 

Most coaches will give lip service to some standard of handling complaints or grievances. As many of you know, it works like this:  if the athlete is having a problem with some issue on the team (and I would guess MOST problems would revolve around playing time) then the athlete is to approach the coach for discussion. My family has lived through everything I described above and we have followed the rules laid down by the sports gods . . .i.e. . . . .coaches.  My daughter has gone to her coaches asking how she can get on the court (volleyball).  Each time (probably a total of 6-7-8 approaches) she gotten the answer that she needs to be MORE CONSISTENT in order to earn more play time.  Yes . . .  .really . . . .more consistent  was the response by the coach!  So in my daughter’s head, as she goes back to the bench she’s left to wonder . . . “Gee coach, more consistent than Susie’s eight straight into the net . . .or hitting out-of-bounds? Weren’t you watching practice when I put 8 out of 10 down in bounds and Susie put in 2 out ten?  How much more consistent should I be. . . . CAN I be?”

When your child goes through the scenario I describe above maybe a few times during the course of the season and the coach does NOTHING to right the wrong (and may even take some additional emotional retribution out on your kid), what do you do?When do YOU get involved?How have you gotten involved and what was the result? Can anyone reading this report good outcomes?When this kind of thing goes on, just in case there are any coaches reading this, you’ve GOT to know that the child you’re benching . . . .seeing how your starter is performing . . . is just sitting there wondering . . .”Gee . . .does Coach think I’d really do worse than Susie/Johnny’s doing right now?”And you’ve also got you us parents on the sidelines are wondering” What has that girl’s/boy’s family done for/given to this coach to get this kind of treatment for their child? “ “ Has money changed hands (beyond regular dues payments)?”]

Most adults making it into their 30’s and 40’s and 50’s aren’t idiots. We’re pretty good at recognizing when something looks (and smells) rotten!  Nobody is being fooled  . . . .so, my question is . . .how do we let coaches who’ll engage in this type of behavior know that we’re on to them and we’d really like them to do one of two things . . . .1) stop it and act honorably . . .especially since this involves children or 2) get out of youth sports.  This is a field that requires a certain level of character development that you just don’t possess. I look forward to your responses!