As a youth baseball coach for the
last six years, I come to realize that there are a lot of myths about
coaching. Here are my top five:
Myth # 1:
Just because men and women can reproduce does not automatically insure that they are qualified to coach their child to play some sport which they were probably mediocre at best to start with. Unfortunately, the box that gets checked on the sign-up registration form only asks if you are willing to volunteer. It doesn't ask whether you are qualified to coach.
Many years ago, moms must have gotten together and decided that they needed some "quiet time," so they allowed fathers to essentially baby-sit not just their own child but sixteen other children on a field with large wooden sticks and solid round projectiles. The myth is assuming that fathers were up to the task.
Assuming that a 3-hour "How to be a Coach" class qualifies a parent to coach. If it did, it wouldn’t take four years of college to become an early childhood education teacher.
Assuming that the coach is going to be fair to every child by giving him or her equal playing time and the chance to play different positions on the field. Most coaches keep records in a spiral-bound encrypted notebook, understandable only to the rocket scientist that concocted it, which they hold close to their chest and only open briefly between innings. Parents have no shot at seeing what’s inside. No wonder parents get frustrated when they feel that their budding athlete has been warming the bench too long.
Assuming that coaches (mostly dads) will keep winning in perspective and emphasize having fun and skill development. Put a coach in front of other adults and a happy-go-lucky volunteer is likely to instantly morph into Billy Martin. The fun "instructional" atmosphere becomes Game 7 of the World Series. The only problem is that nobody told the kids.
I recognized early on, after my wife was nice enough to check the volunteer box on the Pee Wee Baseball registration form, that I didn't have the skills to keep 18 5-year-olds in control long enough to teach them basic baseball. I needed a plan. I had to make it fun all the time, not just during practice where everyone is busy.
My solution was to create a batting and fielding display board and 2 interactive playing pieces for each child to use during every game. Not only did my “Team Tender” help turn the sport into a fun game, but it had other benefits:
- It improved the kids’ understanding of the different field positions
- It allowed the kids themselves to pick the batting order
- It facilitated the creation of a fair and easily observable field position rotation system
- It led to more parental involvement by both Moms and Dads
- It made it easy for parents to monitor their child’s field assignments and batting order position and to get to know the names of the other children on the team.
- Most importantly, I was able to teach basic baseball to my players during the game without the stress of players wondering – and parents getting upset – about playing time or position. My players had fun. I had fun and the parents had fun.
.Dan Hackes lives in Wayne, New Jersey. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org