Jump to content
Y-coach.com - Forum
Sign in to follow this  
zeal

Teaching

Recommended Posts

Hello, I'm looking for a sounding board -- I've been coaching 7-10 year old girls softball for about two years with, as far as I know, good results. I confess that I have an aggressive philosophy. I played college baseball and I believe in teaching fundamentals and making sure mechanics are correct.

This past summer my 8 year old daughter played on a travel team where the coaches were quite passive -- to the point where players were executing poorly (even making fundamental mistakes) and no one said anything. Example -- none of the coaches were helping the catchers (a critical position because of the unlimited stealing). My daughter was interested in this position so I went to the library, got a good video (I was not a catcher), and immediately realized that none of the coaches knew anything about the fundamentals of catching.

My quandry is this -- my daughter wanted to continue to play in the fall and in order to have a team, I had to step in to coach. The players got used to the passive style, and now have me in their faces. Although I think their skills have improved, some are intimidated and uncomfortable with me. Our Manager (who was one of the coaches over the summer) has told me this.

I'm ready to back off, keep my mouth shut, and simply keep the book and shag balls. I absolutely do not want any player to feel uncomfortable. By the same token, if these girls want to move on, they need instruction (even some criticism), right? What would you do?

Sorry for the long message, and all thoughts, comments, etc. are most welcome. Thanks very much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zeal,

I think we have all faced this problem. How tough should we be with the kids? It's never an easy question to answer.

For one you don't want to chase kids away from play but at the same time part of playing youth sports is learning about discipline and committment.

I was alot like you when I was coaching my daughter's team. I had the opportunity to play baseball, basketball and football through out high school. My coaches were always tough and demanded discipline and respect. They were not above screaming in your face. Initially that is how I approached coaching my daughter's team.

What I slowly found out was that I could get better results by being a positive coach rather than a negative coach. So I started trying to see all of the positive things instead of the negative aspects of a player's abilities and I started keeping track during practices and games of the positive things I saw.

After practice and during games I would let player's know the things that I saw that they were doing well. It had an amazing impact. When my player's started hearing positive feedback they immediately began to work even harder so that they could hear me say other positive things about them. I had to keep it honest and only give positive feedback when it was real but this has really worked for me.

This doesn't mean that I don't discipline. But when I do discipline I do it quietly without screaming. For example if I have a group of players during practice that are goofing around and not paying attention, I will just quietly say you three take of and give me two laps or whatever.

My two cents. Good luck coach. Don't get discouraged as those kids need a good coach who will teach them something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is nothing wrong with a little discipline as long as you don't go overboard. Kids need to be able to have a good time and enjoy the sport especially at the younger ages.

I would get the parents involved. Let them know that you need their support in keeping discipline on the team and helping the girls stay focused.

I have put it to my parents this way... If you were paying for your child to take piano lessons and they showed up during practice and talked, goofed around and banged on the keyboard would you sit back and allow it?

After they think about it most parents get my point and the next time their child is goofing around at practice I don't have to say anything. The parent will tell them to settle down and start paying attention.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks very much for responding and for your thoughts. The real issue I was writing about was not discipline -- I'm not intense that way (after all this is not high school or college) -- but rather mechanics and fundamentals. I'm very big on breaking down actions (throwing, hitting) and positions, and showing the players step by step on how to do it correctly. My fellow coaches do not do this, and the players appear to have gotten used to no instruction or (worse) doing it their way. Now when I come in and say you should be doing it this way, the players withdraw / feel intimidated. My issue is how much to push it. My feeling is to (1) simply back off until next season when I will manage my own team, or (2) identify those that are mature / open minded enough (not many) to accept new instruction and work with them. The others will still get attention, but I'm not gonna kill myself. I know it sounds like a cop out, but it's not worth it to me to fight with the Manager, and it's certainly not worth the risk of being yelled at / accused by parents.

Do your leagues do anything re this issue -- perhaps surveying players to learn about how interested they are? Meeting with parents to set expectations? I'm thinking of suggesting these things.

Your further thoughts are welcome.

Thanks very much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can certainly understand that. I think that is why you start to see players around the age of 8 or 9 going from rec leagues to travel teams and select teams. Not that there is anything wrong with rec leagues as they give kids a chance to play sports and be active. But I think you find to many times on rec league teams the attitude that it's a social event and we are just here to have a good time and hand out with our friends.

Where as on select and travel teams the players are committed to becoming better at the sport they have chosen to play and they strive to develop their skills.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zeal,

Sounds like a challenge but certainly not one that can't be overcome. I've heard it said that when teaching the kids, "incorporate" your philosaphys into "thier" style. Meaning, every player has his or her own style and you should add to that style not break it down and overwrite it with yours.

Thats not to say this it what your doing but your, agressive philosaphy, to use your words, could certainly be turning the kids off. Don't get me wrong I'm by no means saying this is bad. In fact I find it commendable for you to step in when needed. Just be careful charging full steam ahead right away.

I think we've all been in a similar situation as far as being on a team where some of the kids pay more attention than others or try a little harder than others or are a little better at the game than others. Take it slow and talk to the kids. Let them know your philosaphys up front. Be positive and make or incorporate the correct mechanics a little at a time. i.e. if bad throwing mechanics, start with keeping front side closed, then move on to arm action. Swing flaws, again start with keeping front side closed drills then move onto staying balanced and in a position of power. Don't give up on the ones who are feeling your too agressive. The ones who want to be there and "learn" the game will pick up on what it is your trying to do. And when the better players begin to show improvement I think, for the most part the not so good players will want to try harder. Be creative at practice also. i.e. live hitting drills, place some buckets in the outfield and have the kids try to hit the ball in or near the bucket. Racing drills around the bases. One for one hitting, give them five, ten swings and if they get a base hit they get one more swing. Again, be creative, make it fun. Get them having fun then you can instill the proper mechanics, at will, cause their having so much fun they don't see or know your changin thier mechanics to proper form. Get down to thier level.

I think a coach has to be a lot of things other than just a coach. Get to know the kids first, get to know thier personalitys as a person as well as a player then you can begin to get inside their head and get them thinking agressive like you. Your aggressive philosaphy is, in my opinion, a huge asset to these kids if you come at them, to a point, from thier side of things, from thier level. Hope this helps, it's just my 75 cents worth but what do I know.

Syn ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of our League Officers distributed a book by her uncle and I'm almost done with it. I highly recommend it. The book is "Life Lessons from Little League, A Guide for Parents and Coaches" by Vincent M. Fortanasce, M.D. Coach Fortanasce has been inducted into the Little Leagu Hall of Fame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×