For those who “coach your son” (or those players who are coached by Dear Old Dad), lend me your ears. Here are some quick and easy thoughts to answer the common problems that surround coaching your own kid.
1st & Foremost
Help him become the best player that He wants to be. When it becomes more about You, the coach, the player’s Dad . . . rethink immediately because you just became ONE OF THEM! You know the guy who's son plays shortstop and pitches, he bats 3rd . . . always . . . and probably shouldn’t . . . yes, there are worse things to be than a pushy baseball Dad . . . so the good news is . . . it's curable! But seriously . . . think about this . . .
Consider the reality of the above and understand that you probably would treat discipline and talk to your own boy differently than you will with the other 12 kids on your team. So when you need to discipline ANY of your team attempt to do this “evenly” and with the same methods. This may take practice as well as having a pre-season discussion with your boy, as he knows Dad and just may attempt to take advantage (I know . . . not my boy!). REVISIT #1 . . . lol. Along with this thought is the idea of playing time and position play. On all teams there are weak links and positions you just cannot find a player to fill. It’s a common problem especially at the younger level up to around age 13.
Here’s my own experience. I have coached my son through many levels, from Tee Ball on up. One year we didn’t have a catcher, so he played catcher a lot when not pitching. At the next level, a player I counted on for a lot of pitching left a hole at short and yet another season, a hole at 2nd. My first reaction each year was the same . . . teach my son the essentials of these positions . . . as long as he understood that he would be helping the team, and me as well. Confiding in him how I was proud of him to make the sacrifice didn’t hurt either.
Is it easy? Not every day. Know this now! Why should it always have to be easy? Very few things that are important to two people are always easy. Know that you are each other’s favorite coach and favorite player. Nothing is more important than that!
Here’s the Downside:
Your boy won’t progress quite as quickly in what you may see as his “natural position. ”
Here’s the Upside:
Until approximately age 14 he doesn’t have a natural position. He has ability and interest in his “natural position” and he has Dad hoping he will play and excel at his “natural position. ” But unless any boy gets experience all over the field, he may not truly find that “natural position. ”
My son had as much fun as a catcher throughout his 11-12-13 years as any time I ever saw him play another position . . . for whatever his reasons were. His experience there was due to his team’s needs. It ended up allowing him to learn and do something he never really thought much about or had much interest in. It also helped me out of a jam because he got good at it. And yes, he enjoyed it! It also helped our pitchers because he improved where they could count on him . . . and now, as an older player, it allowed him to understand the game infinitely better, now that he is developing into a pitcher and a solid middle infielder.
Ultimately, all it took was he and I initially discussing it (I asked for and frankly needed his help – I truly believe that kids like to help), and secondly I spent time working with him at home, one-on-one, and at the park, which gave us time for just he and I! That time is worth it just by itself. . . the added benefit is that it was time spent at a baseball field!
Under the category of “never say never, " my son’s High School asked him to play shortstop on the JV summer team a few years ago. He regarded it as quite an honor, as he was only an 8th grader in a school of 2,000 students. Although he certainly had, and has, a lot of learning to do at such a complex position…I think he was extremely happy that he was at least forced out of his “natural position” earlier in his career and could call on past game experiences. It certainly made for a more confident and enjoyable transition!
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