Parents–Pros and Cons

I am kidding of course with the title of this post. I’m very much pro-parents. Parents do so much to support their young players, including financial support, transportation to and from practices and games, cheering them on, bringing snacks, encouraging them when needed, and on and on. I’m a parent myself, and I know it’s a big commitment from us parents to have our child on a team.

And I’ve been very fortunate with an over-all great bunch of parents year after year. I feel very blessed, and really have nothing to complain about in the big picture.

That said, it’s interesting that one of the topics that can really get the YBC coaches on a rant over on my Facebook page is parents. Parents who complain because their kid is not playing the best positions, is sitting on the bench too much, is not high enough in the batting order–that sort of thing. Or parents who yell at their kid in the middle of the game for making mistakes, rather than letting the coaches handle it.

I have found that with rare exception, most issues with parents can be worked out just with good communication. Prevention can be the best medicine. I make a point of having a talk with all my parents about my philosophy and general expectations after the team is selected. Some coaches even have signed documents about expectations. I have not gone that far, but it is a valid approach.

When parents have issues during the season, good communication can help here as well. For example, parents may be unaware of all that goes in to decisions about batting order (it’s more than just batting average). One mom, for example, was concerned that her son was too low in the batting order. I explained that while he was a pretty good hitter, he was not one of our faster runners, and did not have a lot of base-running savvy. So we needed him where he was, so he could hit in the guys ahead of him. She then felt comfortable with the decision. We really can’t expect parents to know how coaches think, so sometimes we need to explain ourselves.

Sometimes parents need to know what kind of effort it would take for someone to get the position he wants. (It’s often kids who don’t show up for practices or have a poor attitude that don’t get the spots they want.) Sometimes parents don’t understand the coaching philosophy. They may have thought they were being helpful by yelling at their kid in the middle of the game.

And of course, sometimes parents from around the country write in to my Facebook Page with perhaps valid complaints about their coaches, who for example may be giving their own sons favorable treatment (at least in the perception of the parents), or who always bench certain kids through the whole game. So it’s up to us coaches to really be as fair as we possibly can be, as well.

If you’re having issues with parents, often it can be helpful to just take a deep breath, and remember that they are probably just doing what they think is best for their child. Do your best to listen, and acknowledge their point of view. Explain anything about your coaching decisions that you think could be helpful for them to understand. And don’t expect that they’ll agree with you 100% on everything–or maybe they won’t agree at all. Have a goal of understanding them a little better, but not a goal of them ending up agreeing with you, and that way you’ll have a goal that’s possible to accomplish.

I also know that there are some parents in the world who simply are not easy to communicate with, and will not let go of the idea their son is being short-changed, even if you are really careful to be fair. In this case, do what you can, and then let go. There must be something about them that you like, so focus on that.

I know it can be discouraging sometimes if you are giving your heart and soul to the team, not to mention hours and hours of your time, and find this sometimes goes unappreciated. However, the important thing is to do whatever you can to help the kids the best you can, both in terms of baseball skills development and life lessons. And remember the many times and many ways that you are getting support from the parents. I do hope this is helpful for you.

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