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Help Please, Asst Coach Maybe Too Rough?

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I have a difficult situation. I took the head coaching job at a 12U girls softball rec league this spring. I really took the job to help a another man because he did not have the time to coach, but could be asst coach.

You see he is a head coach of a high school varsity softball girls fast pitch team.

Here is my problem - the man knows more about softball than I will ever know and is actually a great teacher for the girls. Problem is, he expects too much out of the girls (being used to his varsity girls) and two or more girls wind up crying at every game because he literally yells at them on the field. One girl makes a mistake and he calls time and pulls her from the game. Another doesn't swing at a strike and he pulls her aside and threatens to put her at the bottom of the lineup, right there on the field. His defense is that there must be consequences for making errors. I disagree, how do you learn without making errors?

The man is great at practice most of the time, but he still is militaristic. If a girl misses a throw, 10 pushups. Misses a ball, run. I mean, aren't these girls supposed to be learning the game? They are going to make mistakes.

Maybe I am just too nice. But, making 11-12 year olds cry at a game just seems wrong to me.

How do I approach this guy? What is my backup? Is it just my opinion, or is there some published guidelines on how little league coaches should behave?

I am not a wimp, I will stand up to this guy, but I need to have my ducks in a row, and that is where I need some help...something to backup what I am thinking.

Ok, help me. Am I wrong here? What is my backup/reference on coach behavior?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Let me just say that regardless of what I say below, there is little bit of that coaching in me. I have coached at the youth level for the last 13 or 14 years and I think I have gotten better each year. At least I have strived to become more focused on the kids and less focused on me and my ego to win. I am less of that "in your face coach" who only cared about what kind of athlete you are, but right there under the surface is that some old coach that wants to find a way to win and can't stand the losses.

With that said. I will tell you that fundamentally I don't agree with the philosophy here, but at the same time I will tell you there will be ten guys to my 1 that tell you this guy is right on. So basically it comes down to what you believe and what your philosophy is and it just plain doesn't matter what someone else thinks. Regardless of the circumistances you are the head coach so it is your call.

I can go into a rant here that this is the very problem with youth sports. We have become a win at all cost society, we are more worried about what kind of athlete we are developing than what kind of person we are developing.

Don't missunderstand me here. I believe in discipline. I just don't see what this coach is doing as discipline - it's punishment. The difference between discipline and punishment is that discipline is what you do for someone to make them better. If the girls are goofing around and making mistakes because of it, then by all means they should be running or doing pushups or whatever, but punishment for each mistake is not going to make them better, it's just going to destroy there self esteem.

Regardless of the guys knowledge of the game that does not make him a great coach so don't feel like he is superior to you just because he knows a few more drills, coaches at the high school level and has a better understanding of field situations.

Decide what your philosophy is and lay the rules down. He may not like it, but he just may learn something from you. Then again he may tell you to go jump in a lake.

Understand that the problem here doesn't just fall on this coach. You will surely have many parents who won't agree with you, so your going to need to have some thick skin and be ready for the backlash.

Go back to making the game fun. Most of these girls won't probably even play in high school so why not have a good time while learning something.

I recently ready a great book on coaching philosophy called a Season of Life. Take a look at it if you get a chance as it is fantastic.

Good luck,


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Oh My!

You're in a "pickle"! Good going, being on top of this. I've also coached various sports for 9 or 10 yrs and the coach in me also wants to secure a win. (winning feels better than losing!)But..........we're dealing with a very difficult group of girls. Some are truely still little girls, some are young women and some are betwixt and between. Yelling at the little girls will make them cry, make the young women angry (motivated?) and the others won't hear you! It's such a balancing act!

When you look at the numbers in the rec league and realize that only 14 or so will make the HS varsity team you might want to step back and let them just have fun. The serious players (and you'll be able to spot them throughout the league), will have enough inner drive to handle discipline, not punishment, discipline, and will move on to more specialized teams (Travel select/AAU etc.)

As far as "standing up" to the head coach....buy him a cup of coffee or a can of soda and ask his advice on how you can better mesh your philosophy with his. Then go find all you can about softball (this site has great info) and vow to be the most informed coach you can be. Next year, put in for a head coach/manager's position. That way you'll be able to coach and mould a team the way you want.

At the end os the season, we have the usual,"everyone gets a trophy" banquet, but I like to make up a folder with the team color and include and individual "gold medal certificate" which I make up on my own. If I have time, I include a special distinction on each girls' certificate ie: most improved, best team spirit etc, (all positive things tailored to each girl) This goes a long way to bolstering bruised egos and might just foster enough confidence to keep that one girl "in the game" and that's all I've ever asked for...just one. If I've reached just one girl and helped her then I've done my job.

Keep Positive and Have fun!

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If your the Manager and you don't approve of his methods you need to tell him.

If he's as good a coach as you say he his he'd know you can't get much production out

of crying/hurt girls.

I have a no "barking" rule for my coaches. If there is a problem they need to start yelling about

they bring it to me.

Girls at that age are going to respond much more favorably to positive encouragement.

Best of luck

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First of all, who's the head coach here? You need to rein in your assistant, pronto.

Second, there are plenty of guidelines for coaching kids at different ages. I stronly reccommend "The Double Goal Coach" by Jim Thompson, but almost any book on coaching youth sports will point out the errors of this coach's ways.

These are 12U girls, not Marine recruits. Your job is to teach them how to play the game, and to help them have fun. Your job is not to verbally abuse them, nor to allow your assistant to do so.

I would strongly urge you to have the Assistant Coach stick to teaching fundamentals and to leave the discipline and inspiration to you. It sounds like you are neglecting your responsibilities here.

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Pretty simple, you are in charge....period. I like the can of soda/coffee, talk to him off the field about what you are seeing and what will happen if no change occurs. If no change talk again and make it clear all on field disipline come through you, make a clear point of him being a great resource, make sure you're clear all disipline and correction from any assitant needs to be through you for a bit, then ease up after improvement. Worked for me dealing with soldiers, should work here.

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