Wow! What a shot!

This is exactly the type of rec basketball league we hope uses CoachDeck. But we have to admit that there is no drill in the deck to practice this.

Question from travel ball parent about playing time

We received this email recently from a reader who had read one of our blog posts. Below is his question, and our response:

Just read your article because I am concerned about playing time for my son.  He plays on a travel team that is professionally coached.  Let me say first, that I don’t believe politics are a problem on this team.  I want to speak with the coach about what my son can do to earn more playing time.  For instance, I want to see if its a matter of work ethic or attitude?  Does he need private instruction for hitting or pitching?  I have coached youth sports so I would like to think I understand the pressures of being in that role.  I basically want a plan from the coach on how we can get my son prepared to offer more for the team.  In your opinion, is that not setting a good example for my son?  Helping him to understand how to ask for help and get better at something?  Any ideas on best way to communicate with my coach about this or do you recommend my son has this conversation?

Thanks,

Our response:

Thank you for your message. I understand your concern.

In order to better answer your question, it would be helpful to know what age we are talking about. If your son is eight years old it is a little more difficult to advise him to approach the coach about playing time than if he’s, say, 13. With that said, however, I still always recommend the player go to the coach rather than the parent. As I wrote in my article, if we as parents constantly intervene to clear the path of obstacles for our kids, then they will be less equipped to handle adversity on their own later. The other downside to parents approaching the coach is that if players do begin getting more playing time, we will never know if it was deserved or if it came as a result of our stepping in. Plus, if we talk to the coach and this leads to more playing time for our child, that means another boy gets less. Then, do his parents approach the coach? It would be difficult to coach a team if every parent was trying to jockey for position on their son’s behalf.

I’m not saying this is what you’re doing by the way. I know you’d like to see if there is something you son can do better/different to earn his time. I’m sure lessons and extra practice won’t hurt. You might want to watch some of the team’s practices and see if you notice any issues with work ethic or attitude. But, in a nutshell, I believe it would be best to have the player talk to the coach, at least initially. You may get all the answers you wished for, while at the same time teaching your son a valuable lesson in handling difficult situations on his own.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
(The reader replied, “Thanks, Coach. Good advice. BTW, He is 11U so will be 11 in April.  Thanks for your response.”)

Read February 2013’s OnDeck Newsletters

In case you missed them, the February 2013 issues of OnDeck for Baseball and Soccer were released today. You’ll lots of great information in both editions.

OnDeck Newsletter goes out tomorrow

On Tuesday, February 26, our latest edition of OnDeck goes out with terrific articles from Olan Suddeth, John Ellsworth and more. You can subscribe so that you never miss an issue.

Marketing genius

Watch this video from the Fargo Force hockey club and see if A) you don’t want to buy season ticket and B) whomever created this promo shouldn’t be making millions creating beer commercials.

Developing a “Team-First” Mentality

The following is an excerpt from the ultimate guide to coaching youth baseball, Winning Secrets, by Brian Gotta

HOW DID YOU DO?
I remember once when I saw a kid walking off the field after his game. I asked him, “How did you do?” He said, “I threw a one-hitter but they made a bunch of errors and let in some runs. I had a home run though.” I guess he didn’t realize I wasn’t asking how he did personally, but how the team had done. Far too many kids don’t have the team-first attitude. They’d rather go 3 for 3 and lose, than go 0 for 3 and win. This attitude usually starts at home and is not corrected by the coach.

I’m going to go out of my way, from the first moment our team all gets together, to explain our team-first philosophy. This means that anything we do is for the good of the team, not necessarily the good of the individual. I want kids to buy into the fact that when the season is over, even five years down the road, they won’t remember a certain game where they made a great play or hit a home run, but they will remember winning a championship and celebrating on the field with their teammates. They must understand that if everyone is only looking out for themselves, thinking of themselves first and what’s best for them as individuals, we won’t be successful. But if they’re all doing anything they can to make the team better, to help the team win, we’ll be champions. Its a message I learned and preach in business: If we succeed as a group, we’ll prosper as individuals.

PICK ME UP
I’m building a team that wants to win. And in order to win, they have to help each other out – pick each other up. Have you ever heard a ballplayer say, “Pick me up,” after striking out or making an error? Where do you think that phrase came from? My guess is that it originated in the ultimate team setting – during battles in war. I’ll paint the picture to my players about a platoon advancing under heavy fire. A wounded soldier falls and pleads, “Pick me up,” to his fellow platoon-mate. He’ll pick the injured man up and carry him to safety, not because it is what is best for him, (obviously stopping and then carrying a heavy man on his shoulders makes him more vulnerable), but because the only way an army platoon can be successful is if they all look out for each other. There’s no way he’s going to leave his brother behind.

So how does that relate to my baseball team? If a kid strikes out, I want his teammates to “pick him up.” Saying things like, “Hey, good cuts up there,” or “Good try,” or “You’ll get them next time,” give a player much more confidence than the cold-shoulder or negative comments. If I can get kids to buy into the concept that they must put the welfare of the team ahead – way ahead – of their own personal welfare, we have a much better opportunity to be successful.

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at www.sportsbooks4kids.com. He is also the author of the ultimate guide to coaching youth baseball, Winning Secrets. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com.

Bench Your Players to Improve Your Team

By Olan Suddeth

Every league has one or two – superstar players who don’t put in their full effort, or who reserve that effort for games only.

Perhaps you have one of these on your team. As the coach, you were excited to land one of the “top” players in your league. And then, when you started practice, you discovered that your star shortstop doesn’t seem to take practice seriously. He has been told all his life how good of a player that he is – and he has the all star jerseys to prove it.

So he goofs off in the batting cage, since he can hit the ball without even trying. Likewise, during infield practice, he showboats a bit, missing routine plays more than he should, while making up for it with a spectacular throw or backhanded stop. Yes, he might pick up a bad habit or two while doing this, but during actual contests, he has his game face on, and still manages to play at a high level.

So what’s the harm? He can still help you win a championship, right?

If that’s your line of thinking (along with 90% of youth coaches out there), you should seriously rethink what your motivations as a coach really are. Should you want to win? Absolutely. As a coach, you should put the best team on the field that you can. But your first responsibility is to help each and every member of that team to develop into a better player than they were when you met them.

So don’t be afraid to discipline that superstar. Try talking to him first, privately. Let him know that you realize he has great talent and skill. Let him know that you realize he turns it on during the game. But explain that he is letting his team down by not putting forth his best every time that he steps on the field – his teammates look up to him, and if he dogs it, they may, as well. Furthermore, if he does not practice hard, he gives up the chance to improve as much as he could have, resulting in limitations to his game that simply should not exist.

You can try small discipline steps – give the player laps the instant you see him lagging in practice. Make him pick up trash afterwards. Give him push ups.

If he still does not respond, pull him from your infield and play him in right. Or better yet, let him start a game on the bench. Drop him to the bottom of the batting order. Explain why you made this decision, and make it clear that the requirements for every team member are the same – all players should be expected to give 100% all of the time; everyone is expected to earn their position. If your star is exempt, you are a hypocrite.

Ideally, you can identify this issue before the regular season starts, and have the chance to clear up any issues during the preseason. Even if not, know that the life lessons you teach this young man – and everyone on your team – are more important than the victory or two that might be in question because of your move.

Olan Suddeth is a Little League coach in the Birmingham, Alabama area. His website, Youth Baseball Info, offers free articles, drills, and tips for youth baseball coaches, parents and fans.