Sunday, May 22, 2011

Coaching Little League Sports

If you have been reading my blog for any period of time, by now you have to know that we are HUGE into sports! All 3 of our children play in organized sports and our 15 month old is sure to follow as his favorite word and most coveted toy is a ball (or anything round that even resembles a ball!) Any day of the week you will find him with a ball in each hand and balls all around him. I see pitching in his future! He has quite an arm already!! *LOL*

We just finished up Spring soccer with our 9 year old and now we are going full force with our 6, 8 and 9 year olds with softball, baseball and t-ball.  I was just charting their games the other night and on some nights, all 3 have games, at the same time at different parks.  *lol* Thank God for Grandma and Grandpa is all I can say!!! We ended up not doing so hot in the soccer league but did earn runner's up in a recent tournament and that was way fun! They aren't the best players out there but I have to say, they are definitely the cutest! Love them!

Anyhoo, our 8 and 9 year olds both play for our city Recreation Department. Emma just started her first year of softball. She isn't athletic at all. I swear she has 2 left feet and spends most of her time tripping and falling. She doesn't like to be hot and hates wearing a helmet because it messes up her hair and makes her even hotter. So I have to admit I was shocked when she wanted to play softball and even more shocked when she had her first softball game this week and managed to get 2 awesome hits. She loved it and I am so happy! I want my kids to love sports and the fact that the PRINCESS didn't mind getting all hot and sweaty and dirty makes me a happy Mama!

Here she is running home from 3rd base. I didn't tell her this, but she runs like a girl! *lol*

Then we have our little Joshy! This is his FIRST year of  Tee-Ball and he is SOOOOO excited to play! After 6 years of watching his big brother play sports, it is definitely his time!  He is playing in a local church league and it has to be among one of the best tee-ball programs ever.  I am not sure if he really loves to play though or if he just likes to get dirty. What do you think?! *lol* He looks pretty content here completely covered in MUD!

No, seriously though. He loooooooves to play ball and even though it was rainy and muddy again this week, he was able to go to practice. They just had it indoors which was, well, interesting to say the least. It was definitely LOUD and CRAZY but the kids had a blast! Here he is (The little guy in red) working on catching fly balls!

So our Summer is off to a BUSY BUSY start. School is out in a couple of weeks and we are going to be "Go, go, go" for the next couple of months. Do any of your kids play organized sports?! And if so, does your city have a recreation department? I love our children playing sports but I have a LOT of complaints with our city rec department this year.

 I could write a book on how much I hate it actually. First of all, each player is required to pay $25 to play. That is pocket change to some people but for some children in our community, it's a HUGE deal and they are unable to play because their family is unable to pay.
Second, they don't even ask what size uniform your child needs and they just order a bunch of shirts and you just have to pray your child gets on that fits! This year, our minor league boys team got all ADULT sized shirts. These are kids that are 9 and 10 years old and our team ranges from boys who weigh 50 pounds to boys who weigh in excess of 150 pounds and they give us all the same size shirts. So my 9 year old who is among the smallest on the team has a shirt that goes past his knees. Nice, huh?!  And the thing that bothers me the most is that these shirts are paid for by SPONSORS so the $25 goes entirely to expenses and overhead. They tell a kid he can't play because they don't pay yet the shirts and hats have already been paid for by a local company. Makes no sense to me.

3rd,  I have NO clue where they find their coaches. I know most are probably just volunteers but it's like they don't screen them or train them or anything and then you get a bunch of idiots our there who couldn't coach a group of monkeys, let alone children.

Case in point.

This weekend, our son had his first game! We were so excited and so were our kids. It has rained a TON here in Ohio and we have not spent much time at the ballpark so we were all ready to play baseball!  First off, our coaches are very mellow.  One is my hubby and the other is a Dad of one of the boys who plays on Drew's All-Star teams. All they are concerned with is teaching the kids the fundamentals, making sure nobody gets hurt and most importantly, making sure the kids have fun. And boy did they ever! Even though half of them struck out at least once and our pitchers who have never pitched in their lives probably each walked a dozen batters, they had a blast! We won our first game and the kids were ecstatic!  THAT is what it is all about. We had a lot of parents from our team comment on how enjoyable it was and how much they liked our coaches and how positive they were.

Drew pitched for his first time (minus the couple times he had to in a tournament last year) and I was so proud of him! He looked so little out on that pitchers mound though. Kind of made me sad to see him doing something so BIG!

 But let me tell you about the coaches from the other team.

They were LOUD! Anything but mellow. You could hear them screaming 2 baseball diamonds down, that's how loud they were!  I heard VERY little positive comments from them and they berated their players. I sat there watching just fuming. If my kid was on that team, I would have stood up and took him out right then and there (After giving those coaches an earful.)  I heard the head coach threatening them the ENTIRE game on how they would "regret it if they lost." THEN, they made their kids run up and down a huge hill after they lost. It was high 80's and they had just got done playing a 2.5 hour baseball game. They were hot and tired. And they got PUNISHED for losing!  I felt like the coaches should have been the one's running the hill. (I can guarantee you that the head coach wouldn't have made it 2 steps he was so out of shape!) There were many parents INFURIATED by these coaches and how they treated their kids. To my surprise, there were also a couple who said they liked them and stood by them. This tells me that these few probably treat their kids the same way at home if they feel it's acceptable to treat kids like that. Maybe it's the nurturing Mama in me, I don't know, but I found these coaches to be among the worst of the worst. And I made a list in my head of things I would like to say to them and I thought I would share them. If you are a coach or thinking about being one, maybe you might benefit from them too! And if you have a kid on a team with coaches like this, REPORT THEM! These type of coaches cause severe damage to the self esteem of innocent children!!! 

1. Some of these kids have never played sports in their entire lives. Give them a break!

2. This is the age where kids decide if they LOVE sports or HATE them. Don't contribute to them HATING them! Make it fun and enjoyable so they WANT to play!

3. Kids respond much better to CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM than being berated. Don't ever make a child feel like they aren't good enough and don't ever yell at them and embarass them! That is completely uncalled for. If you have a problem with something, pull them aside and talk to them privately.

4. Quit blaming the kids! If they aren't doing something right, it's because they are inexperienced and because YOU haven't taught them well enough. Take the time to show them how to do it right.

5. Quit pointing out all of the stuff they are doing wrong and praise them for what they are doing right! Coaches have the opportunity to be POWERFUL role models!  You might be the only positive influence in that child's life. You might be the only person who ever tells a certain boy or girl that you are proud of them and they have done well. Take your role as a coach seriously but not so serious that you DAMAGE the kids. It's your job to make them BETTER!

6. Stop for a minute and realize they are just KIDS! These are precious little children who want to be part of a team. Don't expect them to learn the skills after a couple of practices. It takes a long time for some kids to catch on to certain skills and it takes YEARS to master them and even then, there's always room for improvement!!!

7. DON'T punish them for losing! Even the best teams lose sometimes.  This takes all of the FUN out of the sport and makes it all about WINNING or LOSING and that isn't even close to what it is about!

8. Sometimes its frustrating when you are a coach and the kids aren't catching on to the skills as fast as you think they should. But you still have to be an example, show good sportsmanship and show them that sports are FUN!  If you find yourself constantly losing your temper, coaching might not be your thing!!!

9.  The four most powerful words a coach can ever use...."I Believe in You." If you don't show your players that YOU believe in them, they aren't going to believe in themselves. Instead of berating your pitcher (who has never pitched a baseball game in his life!) go out on the mound, pat him on the back, look him in the eye and tell him that he can do it and that you believe in him. You won't believe the difference. And guess what?! They will believe in YOU as their coach too!

10. Focus on the PROCESS, not the RESULTS! It doesn't matter if they win or lose. It's all about the process and how they get to that point. Teach them to play the sport. Nothing more or less is expected from you. This is is little league. You aren't in the MLB. You aren't coaching the NBA. You aren't the star of the NHL. It's Little League. Relax. Have fun. And be glad you get to have a part in a child's life.

And NOW I am getting off of my soapbox for the today!  Hope you all had an awesome weekend!