Category Archives: Coaching

Parents: An Absolute “Necessity”

As a youth coach your biggest obstacle and your greatest asset are the parents of your players. This paradox causes more grief than any other phase of the game for coaches, umpires, and league officials. Parents are GREAT, and can provide an important resource, support, and ancillary coach(at times). However, they can also create dissension, pressure, and chaos!! A coach must learn to deal with each and every parent in a respectful and positive manner. It is the most difficult task a coach will face. The issues of playing time, positions, practice schedule, personal “needs”, etc will take more time and effort than teaching any skill set necessary to play the game…including hitting!!

A youth coach must develop a viable strategy in order to deal with these problems on a group and individual basis. It is highly recommended to have a parent meeting prior to the first practice and to clearly outline your teaching and coaching philosophy. Review team rules, playing time parameters, practice schedule, needs from the parents, and any other items that will facilitate clear communication with all the parents. A good idea is to have a Code of Conduct that relates to parent and player behavior and explains proper team and game behavior. You are the coach and must be the leader of the team. You will have problems and the optimal strategy is to prepare for the worst and deal with each player/parent in a fair and expedient fashion.

Below are listed the “types” of parents you will meet and in many cases have to deal with during the season. If you do not have one of these types, you are the luckiest coach in the world..bar none! Good Luck!!!

  1. Achievement Proxy Syndrome: These are the parents that live through their player and hope that the player will “erase” all their bad memories and “heal” their childhood wounds. He/she will not!
  2. Helicopter Parent: “Hovers” all around and circling to make sure you do not mess up and their player gets the proper attention, etc.
  3. The “Stop and Drop” Parent: They will just drop off their player and expect you to have them ready when they return. sitter. They will come late and leave early; it is all about them! Can also be called the “Come Late and Leave Early” parents.
  4. The “Tea cuppers”: Their player is very delicate and will crack or break if there is too much pressure or they do not get their way. Be gentle!
  5. The “Show caser”: Your job is to “showcase” their player without attention to others. They are the stars and you are the “agent” to success.
  6. The “Obsessors”: They worry and provide every possible excuse for their player and his/her play and behavior. They will provide a list of all that you must do, maladies, and of course, “useful advice”.
  7. The “Bubble Wrappers”: Their player is bubble-wrapped and ready to burst. Don’t be the one to provide the impetus!
  8. The “Snowflakers”: Their player is as precious as a snowflake and just as special. They worry about he/she “melting” or not being treated delicately.
  9. The INSURGENTS: These are the parents who will “blow up” your team and program if for no other reason other than they are unhappy, hate the game, and are just doing it because they think they should. Volatile!
  10. The “Two Facers”: Just as in the “real” world, the hypocrites present a barrier to team work and fun. They will tell you one thing, and you know the rest!
  11. The “Crispies”: These are the youngsters that are so burned out they crumble like a cookie. Over-booked and over-coached and over-controlled; they will have a very difficult time as they have NO time to think or enjoy the game.
  12. The “It’s About Us” parents: Everything is for them! Your team and program must fit into their schedule and they will not change. These are very tough as your obligation is to the team not parents or individual players.
  13. The “Light Bulbers”: They GET IT!!! Hope you have a few of these…they see the light and will help the team and ALL the players!!
  14. The “Enablers”: These will do everything for their player. You will know that player as he/she will have the best of all gear/equipment!
  15. The “Tug-O-Wars”: The divorced ones that “pull” at the player and blame the other for the player’s mistakes/errors. Always last to pick up the player!
  16. The “Guard Dogs”: They grrrr every time you try to teach their kids!
  17. The “PR parents”: Like admen, they are constantly telling you what the player can do, rather than just letting him/her play.
  18. The “Snow Plowers”: They remove all the problems for the child and make it too easy.
  19. The “Bull Dozers”: Over involved parents that force everything and can not leave the teacher/coach alone.
  20. The Pinterests: Everything must be perfect and obsess over details. Miss the big picture.

There are several other types of parents lurking about, but in general most are concerned about their youngster learning the game, having fun in a safe environment, and learning “life lessons”. It is imperative to treat everyone on an individual basis and attempt to create a functional T-E-A-M!!!!. Good Luck

D.H. Lawrence espoused his recipe for parental success. Three rules: 1. Leave him alone 2. Leave him alone 3. Leave him alone. Do this and he will learn! This is a bit harsh but parents need to allow their player to learn the game and have fun. They have lived their childhood, and now it is their kids’ turn. Less is more, and failure to get a hit or to throw the ball straight may teach as much as the winning hit! To over parent or under parent…that is the question!

GAGPTH!
“Baseball may not change the world, BUT it may change a youngster’s life!”

Let It Be!

“Please let us grow….love, the children!”

The case of the “helicopter” parent is no longer the exception to the rule; or the “snow flake parent”, or the “tea cupper”, or the enabler/entitler…or any of the other doting parents that micro-manage their children’s lives…it now is the rule! The “achievement proxy syndrome” has run amok in today’s culture. So many parents want what is best for their youngsters that they forget to care about the damage that can be done by “doing” for them! No matter how well a child does, it will not magically “erase” the trauma of the parent’s childhood. There are not enough shiny medals, 4.0 GPAs, and other awards that will transform parents’ failures of the past into revisionist history!

Youngsters are very bright and quick to learn, both in school and in the other places they inhabit. It is not necessary to watch over them every minute or dictate what to say or do in every situation. In order to learn the life lessons to survive, they must learn to fall down and fail, then…to get up and try again and to persevere in their pursuits. The ultimate life lessons are learning to deal with failure and lack of success. Life is very difficult and certainly not fair; the sooner the youngsters learn this, the faster they will figure out their paths to what they wish to do and become good solid citizens. Parents need to provide a safe and viable environment so each child may develop their own personality and build their own internal set of ethics. It will happen without being told each and every day what to do and not do!!

Today, the most important job for a parent is to be a positive and true role model. Society and the bombardment of mixed signals from media do not provide any guidance but are relentless in showing the spectacular and sensational. Social media has NO depth and provides little, if any valuable teachings. The concepts a strong work ethic, a disciplined life style, and other “life lessons” are ignored so the inane communications can foster a false sense of reality. It is time to “let it be” and trust our next generations to learn on their own, with parental love and guidance when appropriate!

Some viable suggestions:

  1. Stop treating kids as if they are the royalty or impervious to rules. They do not need a gift on a sibling’s birthday or when a new born arrives! If they are tardy to school or an appointment, they should “pay the price”. Moreover, do not make special meals for them; they eat what the whole family eats.
  2. Limit or eliminate the “screens” in their life. Create a solid set of rules as to when “screens” are available and may be used. Telephones are not a toy nor need they be used every minute to tweet, text, etal. Video games are fun, but also addictive and do not really teach anything but how to “thumb” something!
  3. Be more concerned with diet than taste. Provide a healthy meal schedule and limit the intake of sugar and other deleterious substances. Eat five colors at each and every meal! “Fast food” equates to fat kids.
  4. Do not create excuses or rationalizations so they feel they can just go at their will.
  5. Do not drive them everywhere! The new generations do have legs and they function fine…usage will strengthen these and provide a life-long means of transportation. If they will not walk then they probably do not want to go there very badly…could also use a bike!
  6. Quit pushing!! Everyone wants their youngster to be successful and have worthwhile experiences. Do not force them into activities, especially sports, and then push them to extra workouts, individual coaching, and specialty camps. Many of today’s injuries are resulting from chronic overuse of the body. Keep your sports’ ambitions to yourself and let them get the proper rest and nutrition rather than more games and so many teams.
  7. Youngsters do not need special sports training and personal coaches. If a youngster wishes to GET GOOD, then it will behoove him/her to work on their skill sets by doing drills and hard work to improve. The biggest sin in the past 30 years has been the dissolution of sandlot sports. Getting out to the fields, without adults, will improve any kid’s game, no matter the sport or activity! And, guess what? No one will kidnap them and abscond with them!!
  8. Put “the ROPE” back in the schools! The “hanging menace” does put the fear of failure in EVERY one. Put it back in gym class(after you put gym class back) or in the schools, and have the youngsters figure out how to climb it! How about the peg board?…another necessary “evil” that will test their mettle and provide the ultimate challenge!
  9. Eliminate the urge to provide the most expensive equipment, clothes, and other materialistic icons of opulence. The old saying that “only a poor carpenter blames his tools” is apropos and youngsters can make do with less than perfect “tools”. Hand-me-downs and inexpensive sports equipment will not deter anyone from success, and in fact, may be the better teaching aids. Do not bribe them to participate!
  10. Let the kids play dodge ball, tag, and all the other games that are currently being banned in the schools because they are “dangerous” or “harming” self-esteem. Being IT is sometimes very cool and teaches one to defend and rise to the challenge. If supervised properly, any game will be fun and competitive; it might even rid some of the anti-social behavior that later is expressed with shootings or bullying!!?
  11. One Sport NOT! Youngsters need to experience many athletic adventures. Limiting them to just one creates the “one trick pony” and puts all their eggs in one basket. Youngsters must learn that balance in one’s life, diet included, will provide a healthier mental and physical development. Playing one sport can lead to over-use injuries, burnout, and the failure to enjoy more than one extra-curricular activity. Encourage them to try a variety of sports, and, let THEM choose!
  12. Provide important chores to be done on a scheduled basis. A chore is a sign of love and trust, as well as teaching responsibility and self-worth. Chores build character, teach team work, and show the child that he/she has an important position in the family. More manual labor would not hurt anyone!!!
  13. Punishment is not death!! Bad or improper behavior must be accounted for and punishment should be enforced. Many parents feel that saying a child is wrong is a sin; it is not, it is a parental responsibility! You are not his/her friend but the parent.
  14. Medals/trophies for everyone? That is the ultimate insult to hard work and competition. Being second or even last, should spur the youngsters to work harder and strive for their goals. Rewarding mediocrity or failure does not teach anything.
  15. Then there is the nanny or “manny” or au pere…let’s not even go there!!! Really? Have a child then hand him/her off to someone else. Go figure?

At the end of the day, the key to parenting is quite simple. It is a privilege that requires hard work and “tough love”. Empower your prodigy and provide a strong moral and ethical environment. Youngsters do not need to be treated with “kid gloves” but need to become self-reliant and responsible/accountable for their actions. They will learn the “life lessons” needed to attain their goals, and many times it will take a spill or two to get there. Encourage independence, problem-solving, decision-making, and try not to over-schedule their time. The sooner they find out that “life is not fair” nor equal, they will relax take the bull by the tail and live happily ever after…”let it be!” Entitlement is a yoke of dysfunction.

How smart are kids?

A barber is in his shop and tells his customer that the youngster who is walking in, is without a doubt, the dumbest kid ever! To prove it, the barber puts 2 quarters in one hand and a dollar in the other. The kid takes the two quarters and leaves. The barber says see as he laughs! On his way home the customer sees the kid buying candy at the local store. He asks the kid why he took the quarters and not the dollar. The kid says, “Because if I take the dollar, he won’t offer me the choice anymore and the game’s over!”

“Baseball may not change the world, BUT it can change a youngster’s life”

JUST Baseball!!

Since the inception of youth baseball programs the quintessential conundrum has been “roles”. Many parents believe that it is their right and “job” to do everything in order for their child to win. The true value of youth baseball/softball is to have a controlled learning environment in order to empower the players to have FUN and learn many of “life’s little lessons”. We JUST can not seem to let the kids enjoy the game, play hard, and let them be kids! It JUST seems that parents can not remember that the game is structured for child development, not the accumulation of trophies, All-Star berths, and the deification of their child!

Many years ago a very wise individual created and defined the “Four Roles” of youth baseball/softball. This little bon mot clearly delineates that every person(EVERY) involved in youth baseball/softball games has JUST ONE role when attending a game, and each person must decide what that role is and JUST fulfill its obligations.

The Four Roles are: 1. Player 2. Coach 3. Umpire 4. Fan(aka parent) When attending a youth game, each person must make a conscious decision as to what their role is and maintain JUST that role through out the entire game. Life is full of choices and you MUST make one and JUST one!!

JUST Baseball will make it easy for you to make your “choice “, which really is Hobson’s Choice.

  1. PLAYER: If you are a player JUST play the game and have FUN!
  2. COACH: If you are a coach JUST coach and leave the umpiring to the ump.
  3. UMPIRE: If you are the umpire JUST know the rules and umpire the game.
  4. FAN/PARENT: If you are a fan/parent/etc. JUST watch the game and be positive for all the players!

Common sense and a true sense of “reality” will dictate other than JUST your role. Keep it simple, let the “kid be kids”, and empower them to learn the lessons of baseball which in turn will teach them to be good, productive citizens. JUST Do It! JUST GAGPTH!!!

PLAYING TIME

“WE, not ME!!

Each year and season, the issue of “playing time” raises its ugly head! It is important to understand that baseball is a game of individual skills sets played within a team game. The major underlying credo of Klouter Baseball is “We, not ME”…team before ME! Put these two concepts together and we understand the game of baseball…it is a team game not an individual one. It also must be added that “life is not fair, and neither is baseball”. Hence, not every player is going to play equal amounts of time nor in the position that he/she feels they should play. Klouter Baseball is unconditional….you are a team member and will do whatever it takes for the team!

As the Head Coach I take full responsibility for playing time and all Klouter decisions. Many are made unilaterally by me and others in consensus with the coaches. We clearly outlined the chain of command at the onset if a player feels slighted or wishes to discuss an issue. First, he/she meets with a captain(not during a game or tourney), and if this is not sufficient, he/she meets with a coach. If for some reason, this does not find resolution, he/she and the parent(s) may meet with me. Hopefully we can resolve the issue. The key to this process is that youngsters must learn to solve their problems and not have their parents always “go to bat” for them! One of the key life lessons that we try to teach is problem-solving; our process is part of this learning experience. Also, it will engender a decision-making process that will teach them to make choices. Life is about choices and NOW is the time to learn that key life lesson/skill set!

The first tourney of the year is unlike all the others. First, there is ALWAYS the threat of rain. We have a very clear plan as to alternatives and make do as the weather dictates. We must adjust to the changes and if they do not fit your schedule, you must make the decision as to what you will do. Secondly, there are a number of new players and families. We must help them in their initiation as a Klouter family, and empower the new players to learn our rules and procedures. Lastly, we will not bat every player every game. This is relatively new but is imperative, especially if it rains. This does NOT apply to the 12U team! In most cases, for the 9, 10, and 11 teams, we will bat 12- or 13 each game. All players will bat in the tourney but each must be patient and await their turn. This will not apply to defensive positioning, as we will do our best to get everyone in every game for at least one inning. If you are going to count innings of play, you have lost the focus and importance of team play. You have entrusted your player to our program, so please allow us to manage the team. Again, if there are issues, please use the chain of command to resolve them. Each game and tourney is different so it is very important to be patient. Klouter Baseball is based on meritocracy.

Thank you for your consideration and Go Klouters….GAGPTH and FAW!!!

Coach Phil

Baseball ABSOLUTES

Baseball ABSOLUTES

Too many times we see parents and coaches “negotiating” with, and enabling youngsters. As the game of baseball basically reflects real life and is an excellent educational classroom, it is imperative that we consider the ramifications of such adult behavior. Young players must learn how to be accountable and responsible for their actions. Baseball provides a “no harm, no foul” environment for these tough learning situations, and parents must not step in and “fix” everything! If a youngster does not learn failure or not having his/her own way at a young age, it will impede their social development as they mature. Baseball is a game of fallibility and each player must learn to deal with it. The “lessons of life” learned in baseball(and most sports) provide a viable experience for all involved. Let’s let them grow!! GAGPTH! FAW!!

The below listed ABSOLUTES are very important and must be followed:

  1. The player MUST carry and be responsible for his/her equipment. This entails keeping it clean, carrying their own bag, etc.
  2. A player must take a jacket to every game and put it on after the game…whether it is hot or cold. It will keep their arm protected.
  3. Hydrate every night. The best rule to follow is to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day!! Stay off seeds/soda pop as they will dehydrate a player.
  4. Stretch/run 15-20 minutes before EACH and EVERY practice, game(any sport). Never throw to warm up…always stretch the arm and run before throwing!
  5. NO SEEDS, SODA POP, GUM, or CANDY at any games.
  6. Skip rope 5-10 minutes EVERY day..twice!!!
  7. Eat five(5) colors at each meal. Condiments do not count: Purple, orange and green are the BEST colors to eat.
  8. Hustle everywhere on the diamond and get to every ball…must get ball! It takes NO talent to do so! Compete!! FAW!
  9. Swing a bat 10-20 times per day. Focus on your mechanics and they will become second-nature to you.
  10. Parents: Do not talk to your youngster during a game UNLESS it is an absolute emergency. Then first ask the coach if you may do so. Players must focus on the game, not you!
  11. Learn to bunt!
  12. Treat all teammates the same: It is “we not me”…bullying is not acceptable!
  13. Keep your equipment clean and ready to go: glove oiled, knots tied; bat clean and check for dings; helmet clean; shoes/cleats clean, shined and “aired out”; bag organized and ready to go with all equipment, etc.
  14. Throw 3-5 times per week for 10-15 minutes. Play long toss to strengthen your arm.
  15. Core Conditioning and other: Each and every day do something to maintain and develop your core…it is where the game is played.

These ABSOLUTES are NOT negotiable and ALL players should absolutely follow these to the letter! It is your obligation to your team and self to be the BEST you can be….Get Good and be a “gamer”. GAGPTH! KWTP!