By Coraline Huard
All around the world, there are thousands of dedicated people, who take it under their responsibility; to keep our kids healthy through sport and exercise. And I thought that it was about time to honor these everyday heroes, so I decided to post a few baseball tips for all of you coaches out there, who tirelessly spend hours teaching our kids about baseball.
If you have ever coached a baseball team, you have without a doubt enjoyed the conversation with the parents where they thank you for your hard work and commitment. Perhaps some of the parents have invited you over for a barbeque after the game, or handed out their own, personal easy beef recipe. However, if you have tried these conversations, you have also undoubtedly tried the other conversations; those conversations where the parents are absolutely not satisfied with your performance. Perhaps you benched their son, and now they are furious. Believe it or not, sometimes parents can lose their temper over a baseball game.
Find the common ground
A lot of the times, the frustration of the parent is because that their love for their child overshadows common sense. This is where you need to be proactive, and always make sure that the parents know, that the decisions you make are not personal, but for the benefit of the team. Typically, you will know beforehand, which parents can be a challenge, so a good old baseball tip from an enthusiast to a coach, would be to involve. By involving the parents (and the kids) in the tactic and strategy, they will typically also be more understanding towards your decisions mid-game. One way of doing this could be to go through the strategy near the parents so that everyone is on the same page. This way, when you need to make a tough decision and pull out a kid, maybe — just maybe, the parent will understand that it's not because you have an issue with their child, but because you actually care about all of the children there.
Another great thing that will further underline the statement that it's not personal, would be to talk more to the ones who may feel they are being treated unfairly. If you replace a kid, don't toss him to the far end of the bench. Sit next to them, and talk to them throughout the game. This will make them understand that your decision isn't personal, and that you are looking out for everybody's best interest.
Handling the Foul Ball
Now, all the planning in the world sometimes won't be enough. There will always be run-ins with the parents. We'll have to accept that. What's important is that you know how to handle it. So, without further ado, here's a simple 3-step guide to handling a foul ball.
Acknowledge that the parent is frustrated. This is where you must keep calm, and show that you understand their frustration. By showing compassion and understanding, you can often disarm most conflicts. After all, you need to take it for what it is. The parents aren't angry with you; they're frustrated because they see their child being pulled off the field. They don't know why. They're just scared that he will feel hurt. Makes it a lot less intimidating now, doesn't it?
Stand your ground
Sure, you understand that the parent is angry and frustrated, but don't let it intimidate you. If you change your opinion half-way, the parent will only be enforced in their belief that you were wrong, and they were right. Stick to tip #1, and acknowledge their frustration, but stand your ground on your decision
Keep your arguments at hand
No. I'm not saying that you should keep a list of 5 different reasons as to why a kid needs to be replaced — this won't de-escalate the conflict. But think of it this way; if you were told that something you or your child did wasn't good enough — you would probably also be frustrated. But if you are explained that your child is an excellent shortstop, but that you need to focus on the right field, since that's where the opponent is stronger — it suddenly feels a lot more rational, right? Who knows, maybe it could even be an appraisal, that your kid is in fact so good, that we need him to preserve his strength, so he's being replaced because we don't need someone "at his level". Much better already, right?
Now, wouldn't it be great if this little 3-step guide would always work? But of course, you and I know that it won't. There will always be those "least favorite" parents that you can never convince. However, by showing the parents that you're on their side, and by finding common ground — they will also feel a lot more understanding towards your decisions, and it will remove the "personal" element from the equation.
Think about it this way. The kids love to play, it's their passion. You love to coach them — this is your passion. And the parents… well, the parents love their kids — and they want to see them succeed. And whether we like it or not, being pulled off the field early is hardly a sign of success.
So make sure that everyone knows that the success comes with the team, and that it's okay to have a bad day. And this brings me to my final baseball tip; for the love of god, don't scold a kid when pulling him or her out of the field. This does absolutely nothing constructive about the situation, but what it does is that it makes it seem personal.
Think about it; If you got scolded and was removed as a coach — wouldn't it seem a lot more aimed towards you, than if you were told that you had great coaching skills, but for this next match they needed something a bit more on the defensive side? See, now that's rational thinking, and that's what you need to show on the pitch, and by doing so, I'm pretty sure that you will remove a lot of these fantastic "supportive comments" from our everyone's "least favorite" parents!
Have a great day and happy coaching!