The Coach is Treating My Child Unfairly!

Is there anything that gets us more nuts than our kids’ sports? As a coach and a parent, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’m sure many parents on teams I’ve coached believed their kids should have been getting more playing time or opportunities at different positions. And I’ve watched my own children being coached by others and felt they were being treated unfairly. The following comments were found on a blog about unfair coaches. You be the judge as to whether these parents are over-the-top, or have legitimate gripes.

My son is in baseball 10 year-old division. He is a pretty good player and was pretty much recruited by this team however now he is being played mostly in the outfield while the 3 coaches kids are always in the key positions. I would like to know how to deal with coaches that are all out for their own kids and who give other kids very little playing time in key positions. We have also experienced this situation with football. My son was in tears today because he played the whole game in the outfield and never gets to pitch and this is why they asked him to play on this team based on his pitching skills. We have tried making comments and subtle hints but it all goes ignored. Also, one of the coaches is VP of the league. I would love to hear from other parents who have experienced this and how they have handled the situation. Thanks!

Baseball is such a subjective game. Is it possible the 10 year-old isn’t as good as the coaches’ sons? I’m sure the parent who wrote this doesn’t think so. But who knows unless an impartial observer evaluates all of the kids on the team. And even then, two different impartial observers may come to two different conclusions about who should play and where. One thing I offer as evidence in cases such as these however is that it is likely the coaches do want to win. And wouldn’t the child in question be pitching if he were really a “difference-maker” who would help?

My daughter is 11 years old and has been playing on competitive basketball travel teams for 3 years. Her coach for the past two years has been getting more and more unfair. Once the frustrating travel season was over she wanted to try out for an AAU club team. She makes the team and we find out at the first practice that her travel coach is coaching the team. I should have opted for her not to play. But she loves the game. There is not a moment she doesn’t have a basketball in her hand. Now I give all coaches the benefit of the doubt, but in this case I am done!! She has been in a starting position all season, but the minute she makes ONE mistake he pulls her immediately and puts in someone who makes continuous mistakes. He puts her back in and does the same thing again. Meanwhile all other starters make mistakes, including his daughter and he leaves them in! I have had other parents come up to me and ask why he is picking on my daughter.

The “I have other parents coming to me and asking why my child is getting treated unfairly” card is common. (Folks seem to offer this as incontrovertible evidence that an injustice is occurring.  Because if a parent whose own kid is competing with mine for playing time feels my child is getting cheated, it must be real, right?). In this case, I would only say two things: Could it be you are looking harder for mistakes in others than in your daughter? Is there a chance that I might watch the same game as you and see far more mistakes made by your child than you do? And again, I’m guessing this coach wants to win. If your daughter could make a significant difference in this regard, wouldn’t he play her more?

Our high school soccer coach is ridiculous. He loads up the team with 20 to 24 players, has 3 assistants, and then ignores most of his bench. I could understand if the starting rotation was really strong, but there are many players who are no better than anyone on the bench. I find it unbearable to sit thru games when my child is just sitting on the bench. This child is a good athlete who plays on a top club team.. I just don’t understand why these coaches can’t be honest with the players. They expect respect from the players; why can’t they show respect to the players?

As you know, teams carry more players than they can play at one time. Yes, in a perfect world, all kids get an equal opportunity to play in the game. However, the higher our kids go in sports, the less the emphasis is on fairly distributing playing time and the more it is on winning. You say that there are many players who are no better than anyone on the bench. What is the basis for that comment? Are you at every practice to evaluate this? Are you a professional soccer coach? I understand it is “unbearable to watch” your child sitting on the bench, but that doesn’t mean she deserves to play. The coach did keep her on the team. Would you have preferred she was one of the players who was cut?

I have been crazy with stress, anxiety and anger over the coaching situation at our high school. My son is a junior on the Varsity baseball team. We are 5 games into the season and he has not seen the field. He is a far superior player than the SENIOR that is playing in front of him. Several parents and other coaches have asked why our son is not on the field – all while the player playing has error after error. I want to go “have it out” with the coach – but fear retaliation by the coach toward my son. He is an excellent player with a 4.0 GPA – not to mention a great kid!

I’ll bet they’re all great kids. We all think our kids are the greatest. Baseball, soccer and other team sports are extremely subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My children all played or play baseball, soccer and football and often they were starters and the stars of their teams. But there have been times they’ve been part-time players or even been cut. Guess what? When they were the stars of the team, I thought the coach knew exactly what he was doing. When they weren’t, I believed the coach had political motives and/or was an idiot. I may have been right in both cases, but I also may have been wrong. I joke that if I was doing it all again, my kids would run track or swim – something where results are not an opinion but a fact. If my child came home complaining that she wasn’t in the meet tomorrow I’d ask her, “Was the other girl faster than you? OK then, if you can go faster than her, you’ll be in the next meet.” No way for politics or nepotism to enter the discussion. Just a stopwatch.

The bottom line is that sure, there are politics, there is “daddy-ball” there is unfairness and even coaching stupidity. Yet as you can see from the comments here, there is also a lot of emotion that might cloud our objectivity as parents. If you really feel your child is in a bad situation, you can always go somewhere else – even in high school or college. If we’re talking about volunteer coaches, you can  step up and take the helm next season. Sometimes change is what’s needed. But there’s no guarantee that the grass will be any greener on the other side.


90 Responses

  1. What are your thoughts on a high school soccer coach who keeps 14 seniors on the varsity team and cuts only one. There are 24 total on the team. The player cut has played for the past 3 years on JV and on a competitive club team. He’s an above average player, good student, no discipline problems and equal in talent to the most of the other seniors retained. (Other seniors also played JV as juniors). His parents don’t want to make waves but many of us feel awful about this. What do you suggest?

    • Hi Tanya,

      Thank you for your note. It does seem somewhat harsh to cut only one of fifteen seniors trying out for the team. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether there was a sound reason behind the coach’s decision, at least not from this vantage point. Suggestions, I’m afraid, are in short supply. In cut sports the coach makes the decision, right or wrong, and we pretty much have to live with it. I suppose if enough parents felt strongly enough about the situation they could ask to speak with the coach as a group on the player’s behalf, but I’d recommend asking the boy’s permission first… even if this approach would work he may not want to be put back on the team this way. It is very disappointing, I know. I hope the player continues to play and improve and show the coach he made a mistake, instead of giving up soccer.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Brian Gotta

      • How about when this is done to a 10 year old who has been on the team for 2 years. His skill level wasn’t up to par with the rest of the team, but the commitment and effort certainly was above the rest. The league rules regarding roster only had a minimum requirement To cut one kid at that age for the sake of winning?

      • Thank you for your note. I’m afraid I’d have to have more information to make a comment. I’m not sure by your message what was done, what sport, whether this was competitive (travel) or recreational sports, etc. However as a general rule I would say ten years old is too early to be “cutting” kids from teams.

      • It is 5th grade travel lacrosse, my son has been with the team since 3rd grade and played in the clinics since kindergarten. He has been with the same group of boys a while now some countless games and tournaments. I’ll admit he is at the bottom of the team as far as ability but, even the coaches admit, near the top as far as commitment and effort. We were just told that he is to be moved the B team at the start of the spring season, he was devastated. I understand travel is competetive but he was the only player cut. It seems cruel to cut one player who has been with the team. I’d fully understand if there were big changes to the roster or a limit on the roster size. I suspect there’s another player they’ll cut loose next year (or should based on skill but he’s a key member of the coaches football team) why not do them together? Let them save some face, they are just kids afterall. Many of the games are blowouts anyway 15-3, etc.

      • I agree, this is pretty harsh. I guess that the earlier we get kids into “travel” sports there more potential there is for this type of thing to happen. I understand that there may be no alternative for lacrosse since it tends to be more of a club sport. The best advice I could give would be to explain to your son that he can decide whether or not this is a huge deal. In other words, at ten years old, all kids are still growing, changing, etc. Some will get much bigger and faster (or slower) and by the time they’re 12, 14, and so forth, lots of things will be different. Some kids will no longer be playing because they lose interest. If he keeps working and trying to get better, there’s no reason that in seasons to come he can’t move back up to the “A” team while a kid who is a star today might be demoted. It is difficult for children your son’s age to think so long-term, but that should be his focus. Plus, on the new team I’d imagine he’ll get more playing opportunities and gain more confidence as he has success. I understand there is the social aspect of it, (he’s been with these friends for two years) and it is embarrassing. But again, if it is about him wanting to play a long time and be good, this can be seen as a positive, not a negative. Good luck.

      • We told him all about how kids develop and gave examples of other kids who were cut who and went on to success. He’ll make new friends on the new team. We only put him in travel because he liked the sport, the kids and to get better skills development since the sport is a little technical and requires good stick skills. I believe they should not segregate the kids into elite teams at 9 and 10 like they did. They just started with 8 year olds. Make them equal teams and then segregate them down the road if you must. I might suggest he stay on the B team reagrdless of his development, as long as he likes the coach, has fun and learns the game. I want it to be positive. Competition is good but not above all else and I don’t think these coaches agree with me on that. Thanks for your feedback

    • I feel your pain. My son is a senior and played JV baseball last year. The assistant coach for varsity told him at the end of last year that” he was sorry. You belong on varsity, but the coach seems to have some sorta personal issues with your family”. Main problem with this is he has never met our family. The head coach has even made remarks to my son such as” your family has a special spot in my heart” followed by a laugh etc. I wish my son was a terrible player and then it wouldn’t be an issue.

  2. Hi there,
    I am like most of the parents on the comments above, worrying sick about my daughter. She is a junior midfielder playing varsity soccer. She feels so stuck with her soccer situation. No matter how hard she tries, she doesn’t seem to be able to get on her coach favorites list. Let me give you some examples. In a recent tournament, she got in last 20 minutes, she completely manipulated the middle, she gave a assist to a goal that took the team to PKs with the #1 team in our division. Many parents and players came to me and to her and said exactly that she was “a game changer”. After few minutes she got in, the whole dynamic of the team was different. After she assessed that goal, he called her out, but the captain of the team yelled back at him “are you kidding me”, the ref. did not stop the game, and the game continued with her playing till the end. After the game, he gave a credit to every player but told her you did not play good for the first few minutes but you got better after. It is worth mentioning that he keeps some players in and give them a starter position no matter how bad they play, and when occasionally he subs them for few minutes, he puts it in a way that “come get some rest”. The next game he got her in for 30 seconds before the end of the game, and she never played the game after that. Her trainer came to watch her play in the next game. We learned later that, her trainer put some good words about her in his ear. That seemed to work and he gave her some chance. The next game, he played her about 10-15 minutes each half. She played very well, better first half than the second half. the game after that, he played her again most first have and most second half. After the game he told her, I finally find the player i need for this position, most senior player came to her and told her you were phenomenal, you are a stud, you what we need. The next game, she did not even see the field, and he had her practice with the non-starters players. The irony of that, that preseason when they were just practicing, he told her that he called some college coaches to come and watch her. For that game, the team lost, he kept subbing freshmen and keeping starters who were doing nothing, but he did not give her a chance. This instabilities effecting her a lot. With her own words, what frustrate her the most is that she has no control over it, whatever she gives him does not seem to keep her in his mind a solid player. She is such a go getter, positive thinker and hard worker. She comes home sad, and goes to bed sleeping for straight 10 hrs or longer without working on her homework, and she is a good student. As if she just want enough time to go and not think about it and start another day on a positive note. She said, i hate coming home sad, i hate getting attention on a negative thing. I want to come home happy and do my work and talk and joke with you guys, She is not even looking for playing a full game, she just wants to be part of the team in a more deserving effective way. She tells me, when he doesn’t play me I feel like i should switch gear and not take soccer seriously and focus on academia, but we he plays me i just feel like i don’t care about anything and i just want to do this for the rest of my life. She seriously love this game, all she does in her time is watch soccer. She knows about soccer more that her whole team. Her teammates come to her and ask her how they did on the game and analyses thier performance, and you can see how hard is that when she does not get to play herself. I see her trying her best to keep positive, and keep saying to her self ” I will see what he wants, i will get on his good side”. This is usually her attitude toward things, she assesses what she needs to be done, work on it and gets it done. She did that with her academia, in elementary, middle school an now in high school, she struggle with some classes, especially math, but end up with straight As. But it does not seems away out of this soccer predicament, he has his favorites and no matter how much they miss up or just not being effective in the game, he is not taking them out.

    • Thank you for you comment. As with all of these situations, there are two sides to the story and it would be interesting to hear the coach’s perspective. Has she tried to talk to him one on one? This may even be a case where I’d recommend a conference with you and her and the coach, and perhaps even the school’s athletic director. I hope it works out for her and wish you the best of luck.

  3. Just happened upon this and would like to mention that my son had a much better experience being on the B team (football) one year than he has in previous years as one of the lower skill level players on the A team. He played a lot more, got to try out skill positions and it was a lot more enjoyable for all of us. I’m sure it bums your son out to leave his friends’ team but boys that age seem to make friends quickly in sports. I think parents feel like if he’s not on the elite team by 9 or 10 he has no chance in the future, the reality is by high school age a lot of it comes down to things like size and speed that we can’t really control…the superstars at 10 may not be the superstars at 15, and vice versa.

    • Meg,

      Absolutely, well said. There will be ups and downs, highs and lows with all kids as they progress in their sports careers. Those who manage disappointment best and use it as an incentive to work harder are the ones who ultimately succeed.

      Thank you for your input!

    • Thanks Meg,
      My oldest son had a similar experience but so far i’m a little concerned with my youngest. We have had a few practices and my son definately does shine on this team but unfortunately it’s because many of the kids can’t catch throw or pickup ground balls. I just hope he can continue to develop with this level of play so he can someday make the HS team.
      Some towns have a different approach, they field two A teams and even out the coaches and talent. It builds community and support. Kid’s don’t give up leave the sport like they do in our town.

  4. Well I’d appreciate feedback here. My daughter plays college softball. She is a junior and during her freshman and sophomore years she was a starter and played pretty much all the time. She was forth overall last year on her team. She has tons of heart, works very hard, and is a good student. This year she is for the most part riding the pine. Coach recruited 9 new players this year and it put her on the bench. I dont have a problem necessarily with that. Normally that would mean work harder and earn a position back. What I have a problem with is making sense of her choices. Another junior outfielder who normally played center was moved to left this year which is where my daughter played. I could accept that if it made sense but my daughters stats were significantly higher both at the plate and in the field than the other player not to mention the new girl in center is not what I’d call outstanding. Why not rotate these three in and out? its like all or nothing. If she is put in and she doesnt get on base she’s pulled but starters arent. My daughter went to her coach who told her she has more heart that anyone on the team and she is the best outfielder she has. She said when the game is on the line and a ball is hit to left they all want to know that SHE is the one who is there. She implied she may have been hasty in her decision. She feels that her and the other left fielder are very very close skillwise so she is torn. My daughter was hopeful after that but nothing changed. To make matters worse, she has recruited at least 3 more outfielders for next year!! (only one girl graduating and she is not an outfielder). I just dont understand. I feel that as a third year player who has worked very hard for you should have at least been given the heads up that she wasnt going to be playing this year. Her only hope to play is if a fielder is hurt or sick. I cant imagine what next year will bring. I tell myself she is there for an education right? And they are giving her money to play. I must say that the other fielder is the teams social planner, social butterfly, kiss up to the coaches person ( parents bringing the coaches birthday gifts and making a big show of it etc.). I wouldnt think that in the end that wouldnt matter. I would think skill would win out. Oh in all fairness I need to add..this other person went to “speed school” in the off season last year. Do you suppose that could be the deciding factor and wouldnt you out of respect for a third year player rotate her in regularly? My daughter feels that nothing she has done or how hard she has worked in practice has made any difference.

    • Thank you for your note. This is a tough one, especially since there are not that many options you have, unless your daughter might want to transfer just for her Senior year. I’m not sure what the coach’s side of the story would be. When your daughter has gotten to play this year, are her results superior to the other girls’? Sometimes the only thing we can do is be patient. We don’t want to hope for someone else to have bad luck, but there are many things that can happen, (slumps, injury, academic issues). I might also recommend asking the coach at the end of the season what her plans are for next year and if she foresees an opportunity for your daughter to move back into the starting lineup. She may give your daughter advice on what she can work on during the off season, or at least, hopefully, give her a realistic assessment of her chances. I hope if works out for her. Good luck.

      • She will have a one on one with the coach before summer break. They do this every year. Coach has already said theres at least three more fielders/slappers coming next year. I would think a more seasoned player would be what a coach wanted on the field but… anyhow its a sad time for me. Shes my youngest and theres no more ball whens shes done. I just wasnt ready for it to be over. She may go for some training over the summer but that is costly She also is going with the team to the Dominican Republic this summer which is going to be quite an expense if she wont be playing.

  5. My son is palying in a coach pitch league this year. He is 7 and this is his first year to play. I do not expect for him to play all the time and I understand he is one of the younger less experienced players. He has sat on the bench the entire game for the last two games. Last night I approached his coach and politely asked if he would plase allow my son to play at least one inning next game. The caoch did get a little defensive and I did communicate the fact that I understand that my son is not the best athelete but I have to deal with his questions of why he did not get a chance to bat. When my son asked me last time I said well it’s ok I’m sure you’ll get a chance next game….then he didn’t get a chance. I made sure the coach knew how much I apperciatied his willingness to coach and just reqested that he let my son play at least one inning – was this unresaonable for me to do, should I have just not said anything?

    • I guess I would need a little more information about the league. Is this a recreational league, like Little League, or is it some competitive/travel team that is entering tournaments and trying to win? If it is a rec league, there should be rules about mandatory playing time. If this is the case, I would bypass this coach and go directly to the Division Coordinator or League President and inform them that one of their coaches is in violation of the rules. If this is a travel team that is only about winning, then I guess there is nothing more you can do. However, I think seven may be too young to start playing travel/competitive…especially for a coach who is willing to make a kid sit out an entire game. The bottom line is that at this age, all kids should be playing. If it is rec, they should be playing equally and at all different positions. But at seven years-old you cannot expect a youngster to speak up for himself and approach the coach so yes, I believe you were fully within your rights to do what you did.

      • It is a rec team, Dizzy Dean Alabama, and I’ve already checked the rules and unfortunately there are no mandatory equal play rules. I wish there were. My son has only played right field all season and usually only an inning or two a game. They have the option of batting all their palyers, but have chose to only bat 10 the last few games, leaving my son without a chance to bat. I would love for him to get the opportunity to learn at other positions but it is obvious more thought goes into winning than teaching the kids and helping them learn new skills! I was very respectful, so I hope next game will be better! Thanks

      • You should look for another league or another coach. 7 years old his way too young to be choosing the “elite” kids. It should be fun. This coach will teach your son to hate the game or he may doubt start to doubt his abilities. Speak to the commissioner of the league and see if this is permitted.

        Regardless of whether there are equal play rules or not, no coach should be doing this in a rec league and especially at this age. I would talk to friends, schoolmates parents etc and see if you could find a better coach and get your son switched. if it’s too late for this season than try for next. Even if the coach corrects this practice, it’s an indication of the type of caoch he is – he is not going to get better as the kids get older. As the kids progress and it get’s more competetive he will get much worse.

        I coached a rec soccer team with a boy with downes syndrome for 6 years. He got his fair share of playing time, if not more.

      • You are 100% correct. Unless there is another side to this story, I cannot imagine any justification for sitting a child out at this age for an entire game. Again, unless there is something more we don’t know, this person embodies the worst characteristics of a youth coach.

    • My daughter plays in 8u coach pitch team we are not a traveling team. This is her first year playing .she can catch ,threw,and hit pretty decent.she has ask the coach. If she can play in field witch she does for one inning .shes just as good or more athletic than some of these girls.the problem I see is the coach plays his favorite s when I say favorites its his friends kids or the other coaches kids in field positions they hardly come to practice or game but they get to play key positions my daughter is always at practice and yes I see where your coming from

      • Thanks for your comment. If your daughter is playing in a rec league and only getting to play one inning, something is wrong. There is no league I know of that allows that in the rules. I would recommend you seek out someone on the board and bring this to their attention.

  6. The first story is right.. Coaches are just coaching to put their child in positions… If you don’t suck up to their child , your in the bench!

  7. I agree that parents emotions can impact their opinions on certain situations related to coaching but it is a fact that there are a lot of coaches out there that are piss-poor, egomaniacs and exercise a lot of favoritism/bias. I think when this occurs in the public schools the AD’s need to do a much better job of monitoring and evaluating their coaches on more than just the win loss record. The problem is there is too much of a good ole boys club between the AD’s and coaches in many schools and the accountability is non-existent. It’s a shame but it doesn’t take much to get a coaching certificate in most states and there are a lot of coaches that have no business in this business. The foundations of good leadership are not just for the office, they apply in the sports field just as well. Lack of leadership knowledge and experience is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.

  8. My child is 12 years old and this is his second year playing rec department ball. I’m becoming completely frustrated at the head coach that is coaching the team this year. I have no beef with the assistant coaches…just the head one. The head coach is a “glory hog” and only cares about winning at any cost despite who he steps on. There are eight all star players on the team that he has been coaching and his son has been playing with since 5-6 year old ball. My frustration grew to a head after the last game I watched. I’m not saying my child is an allstar by no means. I will say that his ability has grown ten fold and I know it will continue to grow as he plays more. He loves the game and is totally dedicated to it. The last game his team played was an important one to the kids because it was bragging rights game against a local competitor. During the game, our coach sat out about 8 – 10 kids on the sidelines and the few that got to play a snap or to was only on the kicking team when he knew that it wouldn’t count or hurt his chances at winning. The rest of the time he only played his allstars and a the remaining players a couple of times. During the game, several of the kids on the sidelines got upset and noticed that they were not getting to play any. The response was..”We know you aren’t getting to play. We will try to make it up to you.” How can you make it up to them when this is the one time a year you play this important game. All of those kids were treated unfairly so that this coach could win. It was only a few weeks ago, the coach was observed standing in front of several team members before practice talking on the phone and saying how the 5-6 year olds he was coaching was better than this team and that he had chosen to cancel their practice to have one with us because we were so bad. WTH…In front of the kids. I’m sorry but I don’t believe this coach should be allowed to coach anymore. There are other incidents that have occurred over the past few years that I have been told stories about. I know my son is probably going to be the one retaliated against because the assistant coaches wife overheard me tell my husband that I was going to file a complaint against the head coach and have him removed, but what he did was wrong. (She is the type that will tell.) These kids didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I watched them walk off the field upset and I just don’t think it was unfair. Am I being oversensitive or a bad sport parent? Am I right to file a complaint?

    • Yes, this is a tough situation. Based on your version, it doesn’t seem you are being a bad sports parent or over-sensitive. I wonder, are there other parents who feel the same way? That might be a good barometer as to whether this is a problem others see the same way, or if you’re looking at it from the perspective of frustration. My question is if there are not minimum play rules in place. The reason leagues institute these rules is to avoid situations like this one. So again, without knowing more details or hearing the coach’s side of the story, it does sound like you have a legitimate concern. Maybe the best way to handle it, however, is not to file a complaint at first, which indicates anger and will inflame the situation. Have you tried speaking with the coach about your concerns? Maybe if your son, husband and you had a conference with the coach and your son asked what he needed to do to earn more playing time, the coach could offer some constructive tips. At the same time, the coach would understand that you are not satisfied with the playing time situation. I’d recommend trying this approach before going to the league with a complaint. Plus, if you have this discussion and nothing changes, when you do then complain to the league they should take it more seriously knowing that you first tried to work it out with the coach.

  9. To the person who started this feed, you are clearly the unfair coach and the parent who thinks their child is the greatest! Please, guys/girls don’t give this nut any of your time. What will put an end to all of the politics in sports and the stupidity of the coaches is if more than one person took a stand to get that coach out! Plain and simple!!

    • There are two things to consider here: First, we’ve only heard one side of the story. Very often one parent might see a coach as being unfair and another parent with a player on the same team has no problem at all with the coach. Who is right? Just because one parent thinks the coach is bad doesn’t mean he necessarily is. It is virtually impossible for a coach to make everyone happy. Secondly, to your point (and mine), if there is a problem that is recognized by many parents, there is a better chance that they will band together and take action. But again if no one else on the team believes there is an issue, is it not possible that the “nut” to use your word, is the complaining parent?

    • This post was helpful to all parents going through this with their own children. Most of the time coaches have their own daughters or sons on the team they coach. Have you ever met one that didn’t have their own child as starters??? I haven’t. When their kids make the same mistakes as yours? Your child gets pulled and the coaches child stays. It’s just the way it is… Unfortunately

  10. I have a senior baseball player and he has not played at all for all four years because of the good old boy club these parents kiss the coaches behind and their kids are not better than mine. We were at one school for three years the coach hated my kid kicked him off the team and treated him so unprofessionally, we then transferred him to his zone school with hopes that the coaches would see his talent and allow him to compete for his spot. A JV player has his spot without any questions because of how much these parents have the coaches ear. The kids tease my kid because he does not play and it hurts he has gotten the short end of the stick for 4 years. The old coach bad mouthed my kid and again no play time and the kids taking it upon themselves to tease and behave just like their parents. His old coach allowed a player to call another player a nigger on the team he was also allowed to throw his jersey on the ground, start a fight with another teammate and all he recieved was two game suspension. Any real coach would have kicked him off the team as this was violating the policy the coach came up with. What can we do?? It is so hard to explain to my son about the politics of our area and the real reason they are shutting him out, he is a kid and why can’t these adult coaches act like the role models they profess to be??

    • Thank you for your comment. As we say in all of these posts, though we are only hearing one side of the story, from what you describe it sounds pretty bad. At this point, his senior year, there is not much you can do unless you want to confront the coach or speak with the Athletic Director. Independent of that, however, our recommendation would be, if your son truly is a good baseball player and really loves the game, that he not give up after this season. Look into Junior Colleges in your area. You can bet there will be no politics there. Wouldn’t it be satisfying for him to emerge as the best player from this year’s high school roster to play in college? It is not up to the coaches to determine when your son’s baseball career ends, it is up to him.

  11. My son just finished his sophomore year in high school and had a very successful varsity year as a starter. He rarely sat and had tons of play time. He and several of his high school teammates were selected for an elite travel baseball team for this summer. Between registration costs and travel costs, the price tag will easily exceed $5000 for this summer. So far he has seen the least amount of play time on the team. The team consists of 19 players so there will always be 10 people sitting at time, however, my son is the only one who sits out every inning. He has always been the star player and has been the coach’s favorite on every team he has played on due to attitude, drive and the fact that he gives 100% all the time. I should mention the team was not chosen by the coach but by the organization. The coach was brought in after the team was formed. The team was originally smaller, however the coach brought several players with him, including his son, who he plays consistently.

    I am realistic in understanding that perhaps my son isn’t the best on this new team. Although he has been playing with most of the boys for years and has always had a much higher batting average and far less errors than those who now play the entire game. There are several players who strike out every time they are up to bat, yet are never taken out of the line up. My son has always played shortstop but the coach has 2 others he feels are better. Why select a player and then never play that kid?

    My son has a desire to play baseball in college and now has no shot of being scouted because he never gets off the bench. We play at tournaments in which scouts are always present, so play time is very important. My son is so down on himself and said maybe he is not meant to be a ball player. I hate seeing him this way!

    To make matters worse, no one on the team includes my child in any team activities either. At the hotels he will ask what every one is doing, send out text messages asking what the plans are but everyone ignores him and plans group things without him. Then they all talk in the dug out about what fun they had the night before. The few innings he has seen, no one will warm him up on the field even though he is the first one off the bench to warm up the outfielders. The coach says nothing. This is so heart breaking in so many ways!

    I feel as though I just paid $5000 for the worst experience of my son’s life!

    I have told him he should approach the coach and ask what he needs to do to improve and get more play time. I have told him to keep up a good team attitude and always be willing to do whatever the coach asks of him. What else can we do in this situation?

    • Thank you for your comment. I am sorry your son is having a tough time with his travel team. As I say with all of these comments we get, there are always two sides to every story and, without talking to the coach to get his take, we have to respond based solely on the information we’ve been given.

      With that said, if I paid $5000.00 for a child to be on a travel team, I would have found out first what the policy was regarding playing time. There would be an agreement that, while my child might not play every inning, he would be in the game a reasonable percentage of the innings. If the team promised one thing but has then failed to keep that commitment, I’d have every right to request a refund. Even if you didn’t ask that up front, you still, in my opinion, can ask for most or all of your money back and find another team. You may have to travel farther and it may be more inconvenient, but if your son is a good player he’ll find someone who appreciates him and gives him a chance.

      As for the issue of his not being included by teammates, I cannot really help with that. That is a social issue, not a sports one. But again, if it really is the case that all the other kids on the team are just mean and intentionally ostracizing him, even more reason to leave and find a new club.

      Finally, it is up to your son to determine how far he goes in baseball, not anyone else. My son was cut from his high school team before his junior year. It was devastating. But he turned it into motivation. He began working harder than anyone else his age. We moved him to a new high school and he was conference MVP his senior year. Because of being cut, he didn’t have any college offers so he went to junior college and performed there, and earned a full-ride to a four-year school. Last weekend he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays and is now a pro. So tell your son that if he really wants it badly enough, this experience can’t stop him…unless he lets it.

  12. I have a just turned 10 year old playing baseball and he wants to catch. Last year he got to catch because he was the only one who really wanted to catch but this year there are two others ahead of him so he has only caught in one game and then only for an inning. He did in practice a couple times. He played 2nd base in one game all the others he has been stuck in left field. The one kid has better reflexes and is better but the second kid is about equal to my son in ability. (I think I am being pretty fair about this). Tonight’s game a couple of differnt kids than usual got to pitch and they lost the game. My question is why can’t they give my son more chances at catching? I understand they are going to play the players who give the best chance to win the game but I just want him to have more opportunities. Do we say something to the coach or just deal with it?

    • As with all of these similar issues, there are always at least two perspectives. I understand you feel your son is equal in ability to one of the kids who is playing catcher ahead of him, and that may be true. But I don’t know what the coach would say about that. Unless you attend every practice, I have to think the coach has a better feel for which players can play which positions. I also don’t know if this is a recreational team where all kids should play different positions and share playing time or if this is a travel ball club which is more competitive and the parents, players and coaches go into it knowing that the first goal is to put the best players in the positions where they can help the team win.

      With all that said, he is only 10. When my son was 14, he begged me all season to let him play catcher for our Juniors team I coached. I said no every time because we needed him at shortstop and I felt we had better catchers. Finally, the last game of the season, I let him catch. That happened to be the game we took our team picture so forever the photo of that team shows my son in catcher’s gear. It was pretty funny. But here’s the rest of the story. When he got to high school, the high school coach decided to turn him into a catcher and he became pretty good at it. Now he is going to play college baseball as a catcher. So the point is that at 10 years-old it really isn’t that big of a deal if he catches a lot of innings or not, just that he gets to be in the lineup, has fun, and gets better. Sure, if you want to talk to the coach and see if he can give you some insight on what he sees in the other players compared to your son, that is fine. But keep in mind that then, if your son does get to catch more you won’t ever know if it is because he earned it, or if it was because you intervened. And if you intervene now, at age ten, to get him more playing time, do you plan to do that again next year, and the year after and every year up and through high school? Eventually your son is going to have to stand on his own two feet and can’t always have you come to the rescue. I would encourage him to work hard at catching away from the team, either at home or in lessons and then when he gets his opportunities he can make the most of them and, hopefully, show the coach he deserves more time behind the plate.

      Good luck!

  13. I think it is commendable that coachdeck has responded to so many of the comments here. And I agree with their perspective in each scenario I’ve read, so I’m going to lay out my son’s (and my) baseball situation. I’ll preface it by noting that I’ve been on both sides of the coaching fence, and I’ve struggled with the opposing philosophies behind the developmental and competitive approaches.

    My son is eight, playing on a 10U travel ball team. I was approached by the manager as he was putting the team together. He had seen my son play infield and pitch against the Little League team he managed. His philosophy, he told me, was for the kids to “have fun and develop their baseball skills”. Winning, he said, was not going to be the priority. He told me that he planned to have 12 kids on the team. So I signed up my son.

    I discovered, at the first practice, that the manager was not going to be the head coach. Instead the coaching staff would be led by the manager of our local high school’s varsity baseball team. I thought that was pretty cool. He talked with the parents and reiterated the manager’s points of focus – development and fun, over winning.

    I noticed, at just the 2nd practice, that the coach had divided the outfield and infield players; one group taking fly balls while the other took infield. My son, of course, was with the outfield group (why else would I be commenting, right?). He is the smallest kid on the team, so this didn’t surprise me; I figured he’d have plenty of chances to prove himself.

    But, at the next practice, I noticed there were 14 kids (not the 12 that I had been led to expect) and my son was still the smallest. During a mock game, at the end of the practice, he was parked in right field. The coach rotated in about 5 kids pitching and didn’t give my son a look. Two practices later he still hasn’t thrown a pitch, while others continue to rotate in. He told me, after a practice last week, that he is “like, the 2nd worst player on the team”). I told him he was wrong and that he could be one of the best if he applies himself. But he isn’t getting infield or pitching looks and I getting a little frustrated. I know that, as his father, I cannot give an unbiased assessment of his skills but, just for the record, I will say that I believe he has some exceptional attributes; defensively (since that is what my issue concerns), his situational awareness and his ability to track fly balls both stand out. I realize that the coach may have seen something in my son’s skill set that has led him to believe he shouldn’t pitch at this level but I cannot shake the idea that it has more to do with his size.

    Anyway, I’ll get to the point. I don’t want to be the kind of father that whines about his kid’s playing time. I want my son to stand up for himself and have told him that, if he wants to pitch, he needs to work hard to impress the coach and then, at the right time, tell him he’d like to get a look at pitching. But, as I’ve said, he is only eight. And he’s a shy kid. I guess my question is, should I talk to the coach, or the manager or both (or neither)? And, if so, how should I broach the topic. If I talk to him what points should I bring up and what points should I leave out? A negative approach would be, “you have more kids on the team than you told me you would have, and the way you’ve already divided infield and outfield doesn’t feel like the development team philosophy you sold me on.” A kiss butt approach would be, “Do you think you might get a chance, at one of your practices, to give Jack a pitching look? He will play wherever you want him to play during games but he likes pitching and any pointers from the high school coach would sure go a long way.” But I don’t know if I can look him in the face and say that, without revealing a little more truth. I’m sure I’m making more out of this than I should. Maybe I should just shelf his 10.5 infielder’s glove for an 11.75 and let the chips fall.

    Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • You might like this article, Keep in mind that it recommends you have the child speak to the coach, and in your case, as you mention, that’s a little tough when your son is only eight. But there are still some important points I believe this article makes. In a nutshell, I’d say not to worry about this situation too much. My question would be, is your son getting better, especially at the plate? Just because he plays a season of outfield at age eight doesn’t mean he’s destined to be an outfielder for life. Kids grow at different paces, lose interest, etc. When your son is 10 he may be a star on an entirely new team and some of the kids on this club may not even be playing anymore. He has lots of time. Again, I’d just focus on the fact that he’s got an opportunity to face 10 year-old pitching as an eight year-old which will make him much stronger when he is in a position of facing players his own age. So I probably wouldn’t recommend you demand or even suggest he pitch or play infield. If he hits, they’ll want him somewhere in the lineup. If he doesn’t, maybe he’s in a little over his head and should be on a team with younger kids.

      • Thanks, I think that’s sound advice. They’ve added a fifteenth kid, so I don’t know how many at-bats my guy will get; but the article “Parents and Playing Time” is, I think, spot on regarding the growth kids can experience when they weather their own ups and downs. I will do my best to keep my trap shut. I think, maybe, the only way I’ll be able to pull that off is to drop him off and pick him up, instead of staying to watch the practices.

  14. Our school had tryouts for softball. The original dates given for tryouts were changed after they had begun. After tryouts, seven girls were cut from the team.

    There was no reason to cut anyone. The solution was to allow the 8th graders to play on the JV team, which is what has always been done. This would free up spots on the middle school team for the others who were cut. The Athletic Director refused to do this because he just didn’t want to do that. We have tried talking with him and the principal. The principal seems agreeable as does the varsity coach. However, the Athletic Director will not budge. We’ve even addressed the school board and they agree that the cuts were unfairly done but are not doing anything about it.

    I have copies of the “rating” forms that were used. No one was rated on hitting….which is vital in softball. The times for running are different on different coach’s forms….these should all be the same. Also, many of the ratings for throwing and catching are left blank….at least 25% of them. Other ratings are inconsistent. Some girls’ ratings were left blank and made the team. Others were left blank and did not make the team.

    Since the school board has stated (on record) that things were not done correctly and the tryouts were “a mockery'” My child is devastated. She played last year and loves the game. I just don’t know what to do when those in charge agree they are wrong but won’t fix it for the 7 kids.


    • Hello, and thank you for your comment. It is difficult to provide advice relative to the school administration, but I’m sorry about what happened to your daughter. However, I’d recommend rather than trying to “force” the administration to let her make a team, that she instead uses it as a motivation to get better. Sometimes a kick in the pants is a step forward. She should double her efforts, hit off the tee every day, improve her speed, throw and practice fielding, do whatever it takes to get much, much better. Then, next season, she’ll shock everyone. I’d recommend you read these two articles we’ve written and wish her the best.

  15. Well.. my daughter is a junior, first year on varsity volleyball at our high school. Our playing started Aug. 8th. In the past on her club team, JV, and Freshman teams she always played outside hitter, this year she has been switched to right side because they already have two really good outsides. She’s good at right side and has started every game since Aug. 8th. Our first home game last night was a disappointment and confusing for her. She started first game made 2 serve receive mistakes during that game and was subbed out after the 2nd mistake to never be put back in the next 3 games at all!!! She was the only one on the team to not play for the last 3 games. Our coach has been nicknamed the ice queen and although we have had some really great players, some even offered full ride scholarships, our team never advances and hasn’t in the last 12 years..I think the coach was trying to prove a point, or that is what it seemed like. My daughter of course, was upset and so very confused as to why she wasn’t in. We did have two other starters out with injuries and those two starters are in my daughter’s rotation normally. . We thought she wasn’t feeling well or injured and was sitting out because of that until the games was over and found out she was fine. Just wondering your take on the situation? We were all very shocked that she wasn’t in, even other parents kept asking me if she was ok?

  16. How do you handled a coach who promised playing time at the end of the previous year football season and then at the start of the current season, makes your son a 4th starter. No reason given, no chance to say “well I told you that last year, but since we started practicing you’ve made me change my mind based on your skills:. No nothing – practices hadn’t started and as quickly as he was promised a starting position, it was taken away. Now my whole household is upside down because we as parents know the coach is a liar, but our son has him on a pedestal and won’t talk to me or my husband. “Coach wouldn’t lie to me” is all we hear. Suggestions?????

    • Hi and thanks for your submission. I would have to know more about this situation, specifically what age/type of program this is and what promises exactly were made. I am curious about your son having faith in the coach if he was lied to. But again, without knowing more details I can’t advise whether you should approach the coach, whether your son should, or neither. I would usually recommending deferring to your son. If he doesn’t want anything said about it then he is seemingly willing to handle the situation himself, which is terrific.

  17. […] of articles we’ve written such as Parents and Playing Time and The Coach is Treating My Child Unfairly, we are asked our opinion on situations from parents with children who are struggling in some […]

  18. Well, the issue here is that everyone pays the same amount and regardless should be allowed to play, especially in little league. There is a lot of favoritism and injustice and all that happens is the child gets discouraged. A good coach focuses on all players and encourages growth.

  19. My son is a high level soccer player. He is the captain of his age level ODP team. He is on a premier level club team as a starter and plays every game and the entire game. He has glowing recommendations from many high level coaches. He has recently been scouted by 2 division 1 colleges. But..his high school coach barely plays him. He sat more than half of the season. Parents and players from other teams, who know my son, constantly say that he is being treated unfairly. And you tell me that it is rare that coaches don’t play favorites. Explain this unfairness.

    • Thank you for your comment. Not sure the article said “coaches rarely play favorites.” But again it always goes back to, what is the coach’s motivation for not playing the best players? Does he not care about winning? Or is it possible he’s just a very bad judge of talent so he doesn’t know your son is good? It just doesn’t make sense that he’d know your son is his best player but keep him out of games and lose. How does the team do? Do they win? Are there other players on the team who are also high-level? There is not enough information to know what is going on here. But, of course, you could consider transferring high schools, or your son could approach the coach and ask what he thinks your son needs to do differently to earn more time. And, finally, as you know when it comes to playing at the next level, high school is insignificant and club is all that matters. So you shouldn’t have anything to worry about on that front.

  20. After reading your partisan comments, no wonder these parents are enraged. It’s coaches like you, who genuinely believe they are always right and not full of their own self rightious deluded BS, that ruin youth sports and hurt children.

    My child swims. No politics since it’s all about the times. On the other hand I see so much BS from team youth sports her friends are involved. I have seen time and time again coaches favoring their crappy children, or their buddies crappy children, over far more powerful, and in some cases, many more years of experienced players who work hard and do not give up.

    I also volunteer for an international youth org with well over 20,000 children and adult volunteers where I hold a senior level position at the regional level. The politics, in fighting, and extreme favoritism adults show in favoring their own kids and their buddies kids is absolutely blatant. It’s even brought up at national conferences as a serious problem since it drives away many parent volunteers in disgust. Of course, those in power, and especially promoting their kids, see no problem what-so-ever.

    But hey, we all know I am just an “emotional” wannabe, right? Why listen to any parents, cause, well, you know being the coach of your team your kid really is that much better, even when they blatantly suck compared to the kids whose parents you don’t know and could care less about.

    Thank goodness my daughter is in a youth sport where coaches can’t arbitrarily make a BS decision since performance is measured at the individual level. Yes, I get emotional about my kids, as any good parent should with people like yourself making biased unfounded judgement against them based more on popularity than skill.

    At least individuals like you are teaching our children, it’s not a meritocracy in the real world, it’s a mediocraty and you get ahead by how well your liked. Disgusting this is in youth sports.

    • Thank you for your note. After reading your emotional comments I went back and re-read my article because I couldn’t remember what was said that would cause such anger. I still don’t. The point of my article is not that coaches are always right, as you seem to have interpreted it to be, but that there are two sides to every story and parents aren’t always right just because they believe their child is getting a raw deal. Please refer to these these two portions of the article.
      My children all played or play baseball, soccer and football and often they were starters and the stars of their teams. But there have been times they’ve been part-time players or even been cut. Guess what? When they were the stars of the team, I thought the coach knew exactly what he was doing. When they weren’t, I believed the coach had political motives and/or was an idiot. I may have been right in both cases, but I also may have been wrong. The bottom line is that sure, there are politics, there is “daddy-ball” there is unfairness and even coaching stupidity. Yet as you can see from the comments here, there is also a lot of emotion that might cloud our objectivity as parents. If you really feel your child is in a bad situation, you can always go somewhere else – even in high school or college. If we’re talking about volunteer coaches, you can step up and take the helm next season. Sometimes change is what’s needed. But there’s no guarantee that the grass will be any greener on the other side.
      Thank you again for your comments and best wishes for a happy holiday season.

  21. My son is on a 6th grade basketball team. Not the school but a league. The team he is on has only 6 players so he always gets to play. This is his first year
    playing the sport so needless to say he is not nearly as experienced as his peers. He makes many mistakes but of course he will he has never played before.
    One thing that bothers me is the coach will not let my child try to dribble the ball. If he gets the ball he is supposed to hold it then pass it. He is specifically told to not try to dribble the ball.
    The reason I put him in this league was for him to get experience. Seems if he isn’t allow to try to dribble the ball to the basket them how will his skill improve? Am I wrong?

    • Hello and thank you for your comment. No, you are not wrong, the coach is. He is obviously only concerned with winning and not with player development, which is not right, especially at this age. You have several options that I can see. You could speak with the coach, (in this case I’d say it is completely appropriate) and tell him that you believe he should be working on developing players’ skills. You could speak to whomever is running the league and point out what is happening. I would love to see someone give this coach a CoachDeck for basketball ( which contains 52 good drills the coach could use with his players, including 13 dribbling drills. If none of those options suits you, there is one more approach I could recommend. Have your son work on dribbling on his own. If he were to spend 20-30 minutes each day doing dribbling drills he could approach the coach and show him how hard he’s worked and how much he’s improved. Surely this would convince the coach to let him dribble in games.

      Thank you again for your submission and best of luck.

  22. I would love some feedback on the appropriateness of a coach to conduct tryouts after a season is over – then pull a handful of candidates to talk individually with them before tryouts are “over” and before anyone is allowed to leave. Thus all students saw the other students get called back. The coaches asked these few students their opinion about other candidates and whether or not they thought these students should make the team? They were asking teammates to give their opinion about students who were teammates with them earlier in the season. And what do you know… those girls who were asked about did not make the team – even though they were on the team before.

    • Thank you for your inquiry. There would be some information that would be helpful in formulating a response such as, what level of sport is this, (high school?) and which sport it is. Also, I am not sure why there would be a tryout after the season is over. Isn’t the next season a year away? In every experience I have with high school tryouts, the decisions were made before the tryout and the actual tryout was merely a formality. But again, those were pre-season tryouts, I’m not sure how to think about what you describe. I also don’t know if the conversation the coach had with the girls he pulled aside was private and, if so, how do we know what he was asking them? So I would need more background before being able to say anything definitive but, yes, from the portion you’ve described it doesn’t seem appropriate the huddle with some girls and then make cuts of girls who were left out of the huddle.

  23. Swim coach invited the top swimmers who made champ finals on the second day to an exclusive dinner honoring those swimmers who made it. My daughter made it to the second day with individual bests in two events.

    No invite was received to attend. This coach is immature, plays favorites and is moody!

    What do u do with a volunteer coach like this? She favors the popular well-moneyed girls and acts like she’s their best friend.

    Not objective or unbiased at all…

    What do u suggest?

    • These are always tough to answer because it seems so cut-and-dried, (and maybe it is), but sometimes there is another side. If you were to ask the coach why your daughter, who accomplished the same thing as these other girls, was not invited what do you think the coach would say?

  24. What are your thoughts on moving the child to another team if the current team is not providing an environment for our child to get better and enjoy the game?

    Our daughter is 10yr old on her first travel team. Last week she spent Sunday (2 games) with 3 innings in right field, and the rest of the time on the bench. She got 1 at bat, on Sunday, that resulted in a ground out. On this season they have played 30 games, and she has not been provided any opportunities to pitch (her passion is pitching and she works on it 3-5 days per week).

    The other team is offering to bring her in as their #2 pitcher. She has attended an open practice with the other team, and as parents we saw our child smiling and having fun on the field for the first time in months.

    So the question is; what is the obligation to the first travel team? Our agreement with them expires in 1 month. However, it will be one month of our daughter continuing in right field and the bench with no more than 1 at bat per game max. We do not have a contract to where we can be found in breach we are simply out of the money that we have paid for the last month. The new team wants her immediately. Do we wait the month or move her now? Should we be concerned about any message this sends our child regarding fulfilling obligations to her first team?

    • This is a good question. While reading your initial comments my original thought was that this is an obvious decision to move her, but I agree we also want to be cognizant of the commitment to the team. But it is ridiculous that a 10 year-old girl should play three innnings in RF through an entire doubleheader. So, I would not worry about any obligation to those coaches. In my view they are not living up to their obligation of providing a fair opportunity for your daughter. The only hesitation would be the potential lesson to your daughter that any time someting doesn’t go well you quit, seeking greener pastures, rather than sticking with it. But the other way to look at it is that she’s learning to be prepared for a better opportunity if it comes along. Later in life if she’s working at a job and she aspires to be a manager but the company won’t give her the chance, and then another company offers her a management job, of course she’d take it. So while I appreciate your balance here, I do believe if it were my daughter I’d go ahead and switch teams now.

  25. I love this article because it helps bring me down to earth. It’s so hard to be rational when your child is out on the field and you want the best for them!
    I have a slightly different situation. My son is 8 and playing baseball with a rec league. The coach has been playing him at catcher and 2nd and once he threw him in the outfield for an inning. My son hits well and is 2nd in the batting order. Here’s the issue- his best friend is batting 8th and playing outfield and bench. He gets an infield position one inning a game, that’s it. I know this boy well, he is a decent player, not terrible by any means. My concern is that his parents are upset and want him moved to infield and when I practice with my son and his friend they seem on par with each other. My son is a better hitter, but his friend seems to field well. My son has a stronger arm, but his friend is usually more accurate with his throws. I’m beginning to wonder if my son is taking infield position time that his friend should be getting. We are all close family friends so I want the best for both boys. Is it possible the coach is playing my son more in the better positions because of something besides his talent? He sees me working with my son before practice starts and I talk to him and his wife at games while our friends are not as social. I would like to think my son is where he should be due to his abilities, but I’m starting to wonder if I have my “mom goggles” on and just think he’s awesome because he’s my boy! Thoughts? And how should I talk with our friends when it comes up (which it often does)?

    • Thank you for your note and your question. First, I would like to commend you. This is the first time I’ve ever been asked by a parent if they should say something to a coach about having their child play less to be fair to another. It is a tough one to answer. The biggest issue here is that no coach of eight year-olds should be overseeing such a huge disparity in playing time and positions, especially in a rec league. At this age everyone should be playing pretty much equally and moving around to different positions. I would not blame the other parents for taking their boy off the team and I’m not sure I’d want to play for that coach even if my son were one of the more valued players. At age nine, ten, eleven I can understand a gradual shift towards playing the better kids more but not at eight, and not in rec.

      As far as doing the honorable thing and speaking to the coach on the other player’s behalf, again I really admire and appreciate the sentiment. However, it reminds me of something that happened to my oldest son. He was 13 and was recruited to play on one of the area’s top travel teams. The coach immediately installed him at shortstop which meant the team’s current shortstop had to play other positions. I could tell that his dad, who was an assistant coach, did not like it. I think the head coach thought that if my son didn’t play short we wouldn’t be happy and might leave. So after several games I approached the coach and told him that my son didn’t have to play every inning at shortstop and that it would be OK if he let the other boy have some innings there too. Guess what happened? The next game my son was a left-fielder and that’s where he stayed the remainder of the season. I’m sure that once the coach realized I was not going to complain, that made it easy because now he could make the other dad happy too. It was one of those “no good deed goes unpunished” situations. Now, looking back on it, it did not hurt my son long-term. There were no detrimental effects to his career. But at the time I was pretty annoyed that I’d tried to be gracious and this is what it got me.

      Now, again, 13 year-old travel teams are much more serious than 8 year-old rec teams so I don’t think you need to worry that you might think you made a huge mistake. I would also recommend you speak with the other parents first and let them know what you’re considering and see how they feel. But overall, what you’re proposing is a really nice gesture and maybe you can encourage the coach to give everyone, not just this one boy, more opportunities.

      • Thank you for your advice! We will not be on this team again nor will our friend, so I am sort of grinning and bearing it this year.

        I can’t believe the coach of your son did that when you were trying to be gracious!! I can’t see ours doing it to such a degree, but he may do something similar! I agree that putting kids this age in specific positions is ridiculous. They should be learning to play all the positions! He has three kids who ONLY play their positions- 1st, short stop, and 3rd. The only reason my son gets rotated at 2nd is because his son plays 2nd also… Daddy ball at its finest. His son is 2 years younger and obviously not as good of a player, but that’s how it is. I think there isn’t much hope this season, but I’m looking forward very much to football season and then in the spring we can enjoy a new coach!

      • I am just surprised, if this is a rec league, that there are not rules in place stipulating a more balanced rotation of positions and innings played. Maybe you could look into that or join the league board and try to spearhead that change. Sounds like this organization needs people like you guiding it.

      • I agree- a rec league is not a travel league. Unless it’s a safety issue kids should share positions. btw – I think today’s travel leagues have gone too far whether it be soccer, baseball or lacrosse. they require 4 season commitments, summer tournaments and kids to specialize at 10 years old. Who is this really for? This is beyond nuts. I even got an email for signup pre-K tackle football! Pre-K TACKLE!

  26. It’s not a travel league! The rules are that kids have to play a certain number of innings a game. But, nothing about where the kids have to play. There are 5-6 kids on the team who only ever play outfield or come to the bench. On our spring little league team we had a different head coach who was really good about moving kids around even though some kids still played outfield more than infield, he mixed it up and gave the less skilled players a chance in key positions when we were ahead. What’s interesting about our coach right now is, we are losing games! So what he’s doing isn’t working! I will ask around and see if they will consider rules for infield playin time in this league. Like you said, it’s not travel ball and they are 8! When my son is 13 I will expect this way of playing.

  27. My son was quarter back last year in his football team. Shocked that he was even asked to be. He played football two years before that. They wouldn’t let him touch the ball. It was always the coaches children or their friends children. They always used my son in defence thoygh as corner of safty cause he is fast and they know that. Well last year like I wrote they begged him to be quater back he was 8 then. He worked his butt off playing that postion. Everyone would ask who is that number 32 he is fast. This year my son has moved up to a new division. They are only 14 kids on the football team. Of course I understand them playing the ones who’s last year or is. But a new boy came in the picture he goes to the coaches church. And they only let that boy another coaches son, and the main coaches son run the ball. This new boy is great player. But my son can play just as good as him. Last year my son mad 15 touchdowns. They will not play him. The main coach avoids my son as much as possible. They told my son he would be back up quarter back. Well when the coaches son not hurt twice in the scrimmage my son has to go in. My son does not know how to sister back from pistol formation which is you stand a few yards back center throws the ball to you. They have never worked with my son on that which made my child look bad in the game.the three boys that run the ball pick in my son tell him they are faster and better. The new boy they act like they can’t even have a practice of he isn’t there. My son is just as good. Just because my son isn’t tall long legged long arms. My son is short and skinny. What do i do I get so upset.

    • Just relax and be patient. It is a marathon, not a sprint. He is only 8 years old. In five years some kids who are playing now will have quit. Some who are big now will be small. Some who are small now will be big. Some who are fast now will be slow. Do you get the point? It is way too early, way too young to be worried about playing time and politics. Think about high school. If your son is the biggest and fastest in the school, he will play. Just try to keep him positive, don’t let him hear you complain or make excuses. Instead tell him he needs to work harder than everyone else. If you tell him now he’s getting a raw deal and make excuses for him, he’ll take that attitude through life and always feel like he’s being treated unfairly. That’s not what you want if you want him to be successful.

  28. My daughter is and has been on the same basketball team since 4th grade. CYO and all started out as newbies. The coach has a daughter on the team along with her best friend. Her daughter can make mistakes and is told to shake it off but when the other girls do the same mistake they are being told what they were doing wrong. As the years went on, the coach brings her daughter to another coach along with her best friend to help her daughter get better, then lets 2 other parents know about this other coach. Our basketball coach tells the other parents not to say anything. It’s a secret. So now our coach has a team she plays all the time and her b team which my daughter is on. The same kids that our coach told about getting extra help, are all on modified team, on aau teams. All the while the 7 other kids from the team no nothing of this other coach. The coach has benched my daughter for no reason, she shows up for every game, every practice. Found out about the coaches little secret and when my daughter makes a good shot she makes comments like money well spent! Am I the crazy parent here or should this coach not be Coaching a team?

  29. Hi, my daughter has played varsity basketball at her high school since a junior, now a senior. She is a 6′ 2″ center. She played very little as a freshman, a little more as a sophomore. Through her AAU team, she received much interest from college coaches and had invites to visit campus’ and meet coaches in programs across all divisions. Her junior year she started off playing very little again. She was the sixth player in and would be brought in to turn the game around each time when needed and then taken out when we were up by a margin. Halfway through the season we had a meeting with the AD and the coach explaining how confused we were that D1, D2 and D3 college coaches were beginning the recruiting process with her but yet she hardly had minutes on her high school team. We brought in the meeting with us the letters and invites she had been receiving from college coaches. We also pointed out that her stats were higher than most starters though she played just a fraction of the time they did. The school Principal and AD agreed she should be playing more and she began to start in games and play a lot in the games. With one third of the season left she helped bring her team to win their division, was the second highest scorer on her team, was selected as All Division First Team Player, was a top ten scorer and rebounder in her division and number 2 in blocked shots. She felt thankful and justified. The coach however, did not like that she took the spotlight from someone he was trying to promote. He made a rude comment publicly at their basketball banquet in front of over 100 people that she didn’t play earlier in the season because she couldn’t make it down the court. This was untrue and was said to try to justify her not playing after all she had just achieved. My daughter was so upset we made a complaint against the coach. A few months later, she was not anywhere to be found in the basketball section of her school yearbook. Not in the team picture, no pics of her in games, nothing. Though every other player was represented. This year, her senior year, she and us, her parents, had high hopes of her starting and having a great senior year due to her success during her junior year. Instead, she was a second string player, replaced by a guard who did not have capabilities of being a center. She again played the role of playing only when the team was in trouble, basically, to save the game. In place of starting her, he started a freshman player at a different position. After all she accomplished the prior year, she sat most of her senior year on the bench and watched. Her team did very poorly. We feel this was retaliation by the coach and possibly the AD as well for the complaints that we made. Nepotism, favoritism, etc… also runs rampant in our school district. What do you think of this scenario?

    • Thank you for your note. Yes, strictly from what you’ve outlined it does seem as if your daughter is being treated unfairly. However, as we always write in this thread, we don’t know the other side. We’d have to hear from the coach to know what his motivation is. He may feel there are attitude or effort issues, or something else. Parents who write to us always have the perspective of ‘really good kid who hasn’t done anything wrong vs. very evil coach who doesn’t care about winning, only hurting my child.” Like with everything in our lives, it is usually not that cut-and-dried. The good news is that your daughter appears to have many options ahead of her so even if this coach is a jerk, she can put him in her rear-view mirror and hopefully find a better situation at the next place. Our only advice would be that if she has any responsibility in this situation she should learn from it so it is not repeated at the next level.

  30. Good Morning
    I am in predicament I Am not sure how to handle. My son has played soccer since the third grade and is now 16 and a junior in HS. He is athletic, confident, takes direction well and very skilled at the game, which I have been told by many different coaches.

    He transferred to a new school last year (10th grade). This year he is in 11th grade. He hasnot touched the field in the first four or five games at all so I encouraged him to talk to his coach about what he needs to do specifically to get more play time. The coach did not give him specifics but mentioned that he saw a couple good things in practice and that he’d probably get some play time the next game which he did get. He got maybe two minutes on the field and my son made them count and did well.

    HOwever at one of the games they needed a player and my son got on the line ready to go (the only kid ready to go at moment as well). and the head coach said NOT f-/:$&-, my son name. Really?

    Since then he has not been on the field again. I told my son to talk to him again and really push for specifics and then pursue the coach after practice to see what he liked and didn’t like.

    I am not sure how else to help my son. He told me he used to go to practice and it was the highlight of his day and he thought about how he could be great at playing and now he goes thinking how he can’t mess up cause he will never get play time.

    His other teamates have asked him why the coach hates him and why he is not playing. One of his teamates mentioned to his mom that my son Plays smart and was on of the better players of the team and can’t understand why the coach doesn’t play him.

    My son has always hit the field with a ton of confidence and game and I am worried this coach will strip it away. Also, sadly for my son he is a junior this year and is not getting any looks for playing at a college level.

    I did have the opportunity to talk to another coach that has coached my son in past and currently for summer league and he seemed surprised that he wasn’t getting play time and he said if he transferred over to his school he could definitely get play time. However my husband and I can’t see switching to a new school for senior year.

    I told my son that he is going to have to try to work with this coach as he will have him again next year. We do have summer league to look forward to with local college coaches that are awesome.

    My son is well liked by other coaches, teachers, and peers. He is pretty laid back except when on the field playing competitively. He has been so frustrated after each game. I really feel for him.

    Any suggestions for next year and how I can help my son? I don’t know what else to say to him.

    All the best.

    • Thank you for reaching out. I understand your predicament and feel badly for your son. I definitely know how frustrating it is to not be able to help in a situation like this. From what you’ve presented it seems your son is doing everything he can (working his hardest, talking to the coach about playing time, doing his best with his opportunities) so I don’t know what advice I can give you to help him change the high school situation. You could transfer again, but as you found out, the grass isn’t always greener. The best thing for your son would be if he has opportunities elsewhere, specifically in club soccer. I believe in most places college offers come more from club than from high school anyway. This would also help with your son’s anxiety about making a mistake that might cost him playing time. If he understands that he has another venue, (club) then he won’t put as much pressure on himself for high school, and it won’t be as frustrating if he doesn’t play in high school. Also, take a look at colleges where he’d like to play and find out if they are having camps this summer and sign him up for those. Have him contact every coach at schools he’d like to attend and get on their radar. Just like with having a club team, if he gets an offer from a college then it takes all the pressure off of high school. And, the way it works with most of these guys, if the high school coach knows your son has an offer he’ll probably be more eager to play him. Be proactive! Have your son get himself out there! The high school team is only a very small part of the soccer world.

  31. All good ideas, thank you for your reply.

  32. Hi, I also have a situation. My son is 14 and plays the labero position in volleyball. He played alot in the beginning but now it seems he sits on the bench most of the time. When I approached the coach and asked him why my son was not playing……he first told me that just before the game my son got up and went to the bathroom, then he told me that he made a couple of mistakes. I’m sorry but all kids make mistakes and all kids go to the bathroom but I think that was not a good enough reason to bench my son for 3 straight games. He only played him after I talked to him and he played really well so he may be responsive to my concern but it just seemed a little too severe to me. I was heartbroken watching my son site on the bench. He wanted to go home and not play anymore… 😦

  33. “One thing I offer as evidence in cases such as these however is that it is likely the coaches do want to win. And wouldn’t the child in question be pitching if he were really a “difference-maker” who would help?”

    Hooooooo boy. Regarding 10 year old baseball players, at that age the games should still be about experience above all else. Winning should be of some priority by then, yes…but remaining as a back seat to encouraging all players getting some time at whatever position they want to play at. Merit-based positioning shouldn’t take priority until 12+/7th grade or so. They’re 10. Children. They’re playing. They’re ***still developing***, treating them otherwise risks stunting their future ability. Coaches must let them play and learn to a reasonable extent, vs. getting their ego tied up in it. Their primary job is NOT to win. Their primary job is to help these children learn to play the game. Where and when this got forgotten, I don’t know…but it’s harmful and it hurts participation. And Little League is indeed facing a bit of a crisis on that front.

  34. Hi all..I had a daughter really love to play soccer…she event play it at her school and win the games…I don’t know how and when she start playing soccer…but as a mother I do try to help her..than we let her in into training soccer club … What is not make happy is from starting …every time they had a games they put my daughter in the bench…waiting and waiting…than when they let her to play they always put her in the ends….that’s means no way to kicks the goal…I do not really care about that’s until my daughter get sooo upset….she want my hubby talk to her coach…why she always on bench and why always on the end of the oval…it’s make me tears…. I think to make her happy….but it’s seems to be make her lost interest on soccer….please give me idea….what can I do for her .??? thanks

  35. How about a high school soccer player that has a coach that doesn’t see any of the wrongdoings happening right in front of him? He has a captain that disrespects teammates and refs by cursing andand even throwning tempter tantrums on the field. He threw a water bottle at the ref, but still gets named All-Star and captain the next year. I get that no matter how early my son arrives for practice, volunteers for duties, helps out teammates, and dedicates himself to soccer and the team that he will get no recognition. It sucks but that’s small town life if you can’t buy your way into the boy’s club. What I don’t understand is being blind to the disrespect and defiance of many boys on the team and then rewarding them because of who their parents are in the town. It’s gotten so bad that captains have called practice and made sure that a few people were left out of the message on purpose so it looks bad on them. Even further they took a second team photo without telling my son and sent it to the yearbook. My son who works two jobs, has the utmost respect for adults, and gives 100% all of the time. He may not be the best soccer player on the team, but he is a great soccer player. What did he do to deserve treatment like this? Nothing. Why would a coach let this happen? We can’t take him to a different high school. There isn’t a different high school. We live 40 minutes from a Walmart. There is nothing. Senior year practices have started, and I just found out about the yearbook. I’ve remained silent over the unfair treatment because that’s what my son asked for me to do, but I don’t want him left out of the next team photo. What kind of coach lets this happen?

    • Not sure what advice to give here. If everything you say is true, this is a time it would be appropriate to go to the Athletic Director and have a conversation. If a player has cursed the refs and thrown water bottles at them, wouldn’t the ref give that player a red card? That would be something to mention to the AD. If the players are truly leaving your son out of organized events to make him look bad, that should be pointed out to the AD. But if your son doesn’t want you to do this and if there is no place to transfer, then what can you do?

  36. I coach a 7 to 9 age baseball machine pitch team. Its a volunteer basis which I inherited after the first coach quit first practice. I have a 7 year old child placed on my team who has never played before. First practice he came without a glove or a helmet, no show second practice and 3rd practice his parents had him wearing a right handed glove on his left hand aware that they purchased the wrong glove. During batting practice, the child had to borrow my child’s helmet which the child is suppose to have, got hit batting from pitching machine. I since have received a text from the parents that their child doesn’t cry for no reason so the injury must be serious. Also they reviewed the video and we(coaches) did not have their kid in the proper baseball stance nor was he holding the bat correctly. This child is extremely small and he has never played any ball not even teeball for beginners. My question is how to handle the parents as I would love to say if you know the proper stance and how to hold the bat correctly then you should already taught your son these basics and not expect this to be taught by the coach in a more advanced league. Also its a volunteer basis if you know so much you volunteer come out put your child in the proper stance. None of the other 12 got injured batting. I have played softball for 40 years…I know the stance and I am not a bitter old lady who lives to hurt kids. How would you handle this. As well I have requested every child have a helmet because its required to bat, the park does not provide those and I will no longer punish my kid by allowing others to use his.

    • I am curious about the video you reference. Was someone recording the practice? In any event, I think it is very reasonable to tell every parent they need to bring a helmet for their child if the league does not provide helmets. Anyone who does not bring a helmet cannot bat. As far as the other stuff I would just ignore it unless it persists. And remember that the child here is innocent so please try not to transfer your frustration with the parents to the child. Thank you for coaching the team.

  37. My son is devastated due to his coach using him as a joke at a pep rally. The coach spoke on the microphone and told everyone there if they wanted to hear sone thing funny and then went in to say that my son name can’t dribble
    Again he said again do you want to hear something funny and went on to say my son can’t run
    Everyone laughed at the pep rally and my son now won’t even touch a basketball
    What should I do
    I told the school about it and they did nothing

    • Thank you for your comment. We get these types of questions frequently and we always want to be sure first that there isn’t another side to the story. It is very hard to believe that a coach would say derogatory things about a student that could get him fired in a public setting. It is further more incredible that the school would do nothing. Is it possible that, (I’m assuming you were not there and only heard your son’s version) he didn’t say exactly what your son related to you? Obviously there were many witnesses. If this coach did actually say these things in public and you have witnesses who will corroborate this, then this coach should be fired immediately. If the school won’t do anything, then take it above them to the district, to the local news, wherever you need to take it. However, my guess is that you’ll find out is wasn’t exactly as you’ve been told. But again, if it is, then pursue it to the hilt.

      As for your son not being willing to pick up a basketball, this is a teaching moment for you. If he someday hears someone say he isn’t a good student, will he drop out of school? Let’s say he gets a job as an accountant or mechanic or anything else. If he gets told he is not good at it, will he quit? He needs to use this as motivation to get better. The best revenge is not letting the bad person win, but in proving him wrong. I don’t know how old your son is but if he were to work hard and get good enough to play at a higher level than this coach, wouldn’t that be great?

  38. Coach – thank you for this article. I needed it this a.m. I am currently struggling to help my 17 year old son navigate a tough season of baseball. On our HS team, we have one head coach and 3 assistants, all of whom have sons on the team who see quality PT every game. Perhaps I should also add that my son grew up and played little league and travel ball with 2 of the coaches’ sons who coached them then, too. The HC’s freshman starts every Varsity game. Actually, he started Varsity as an 8th grader. My son is a left handed pitcher and outfielder. He has a great attitude, but his lack of PT this year, as a Junior, is killing his confidence. Night after night, inning after inning, he stands in the dugout cheering on his teammates. He works hard during the season and in the off season. At the end of his sophomore year, he tried out for and made a highly competitive summer travel team for summer of 2018. Yet, he seems to be stuck in the dugout for every varsity game while underclassmen fill the outfield spots. If those players were stars, I’d understand and this wouldn’t hurt as much. However, there have been multiple errors (missed cutoffs and not catching balls on the fly but fielding them on the drop) Last night, they played a local rival. He played summer ball last year with all those guys so it hurt him that he never got on the field. The HC policy re: team and playing issues is to address them with him on the day after a game – not immediately after any game. I am not convinced in my heart of hearts that it would do any good to discuss PT with him and, in fact, it might actually make it worse. Instead, I have told my son to keep his head up, keep working hard,and basically, have tried to use it as motivation, but I see that it’s taking its toll on his confidence. Now, when he is on the mound, he has such enormous pressure on himself to excel, as it may be the last inning he will play. Any suggestions you have are greatly appreciated! I confess, I did screenshot the last paragraph in one of your replies about your son who was cut as a junior and then excelled in jr college/college and made it to the pros. GOOD FOR HIM!! I don’t want these HS coaches to define him.

    • Thank you for your submission. Has your son approached the coaches and asked what he needs to do to get more innings? When reading these letters it is always difficult to make a recommendation because I don’t know the story from the other side. Maybe your son has not looked good in practice and the other players have done better. With that said, I am a little skeptical of a school that allows four men to be coaches who have sons on the team. Does he want to play beyond high school? I know colleges are always looking for left handed pitchers. One step he can take is to start reaching out to smaller schools and Junior Colleges. Many usually have summer tryout camps he can attend. If he were to do well at one of those and have an offer on the table, that would help with his confidence and would simultaneously put pressure on the coaches to play him next season. As always, the only other advice I can offer is that he try to get noticed through his club team or, if he really is getting a bad deal and it’s that important to him, transfer to a different school next year. Good luck.

      • Your reply is much appreciated. Yes, it is an unusual coaching situation. The only independent coach we had was forced to leave to take care of an ailing family member. He has since asked my husband about our son’s season, and just shook his head, saying he didn’t understand why they weren’t using him more. With our encouragement, our son did ask the HC what he could do to earn more PT. The HC advised that he is doing well and needs “to continue to pitch with confidence.” So, not really any corrective action of note. As I have thought about this and broken it down in order to write to you, maybe the Coaches have relegated him to a PO status without really informing him of that? After all, he has played and practiced both OF and P for the last several years. He does wish to play beyond HS, and we are realistic with our expectations. He doesn’t throw 90 mph as most Div. 1 schools want to see, but he has good movement and placement. So we are already considering smaller college programs, and now, junior colleges. I guess my fear would be the stats that he can’t get in the dugout. : (

        Thanks again. And best wishes to you and yours.

  39. What the heck reason of you making all negative parents’ comment for? You are an unfair coach. Speaking about public school sport not the club, coaches should make all team players equally importance.

  40. Get a clue. Show me dads that eagerly coach and I will show you parents in it for themselves. The “could it be” attitude of this article ignores the reality that the parent coaches are at least just as likely to not be objective – and being in a position of control and power………does common sense need to be explained more here?

    Look, in parent coached sports – club teams, there is a simple formula that is repeated and followed over and over. You get parents to coach (for free) you collect A LOT of money from families. And the coaches form a clique / posse. They might be about 1/2 the team. It has little to do with ability at times. Their kids blow it – “like it never even happened”. Your kid – literally becomes the scapegoat . end of season – club hears positives from the bought and paid for posse. Got a “core” for next year. Good job coach. And they stay in the driver seat clearing the way for junior. This is pretty much the norm.

    11u – our upper tight suburban parents had 5 coaches. Baseball. After 1 year, 4 were no longer playing. After 2nd year, the 5th was done. There you go. But they were all little superstars in 11u – treated like it.

    The way baseball is done in this country, it is no surprise that such a large proportional percentage of players are foreign born. In the US, if your kid has talent, look out. You’ll have a lot of parents elbowing you and your kid out of their kid’s way.

    And to the dummy that brings up the “coaches want to win” canard. Please!!! No, they do not care about losing – seen plenty of incompetence go rewarded with more and more playing time with horrid results. Over and over. All about the clique and maintaining control. The families run off are easily replaced with other parents with open checkbooks.

    There you go the unvarnished truth of the me first suburban clique fest of mediocre kids. The helicopter parents are in the dugout now. Don’t point to the stands. That’s were the 1/2 same people stay. The real gems are strategizing about keeping their little group together and controlling the team.

    And when you get to high school, invariably one of these parents knows the coach there too.

    • Yes, there are going to be issues of unfairness at times. Of course not every coach/team/situation is perfect or innocent. It sounds like you had a bad experience. However the main theme of the article is that too many parents believe that the only reason their child isn’t playing more, making a team, pitching, etc is that the coach is in it for his own child, doesn’t like their child, or just can’t see their child’s talent. Sometimes it is just that their child isn’t as talented as others or doesn’t work as hard at practice. We have received hundreds of complaints about coaches being unfair and, very often, when we ask hard questions about what is specifically unfair, we find out that the truth is actually somewhere in the middle.

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