Parents and Playing Time (again)

We continued to have folks email about or comment on our article from several years ago, Parents and Playing Time. This time a frustrated mom wrote in about her son, Isaiah, who was a sophomore baseball player in high school who was not selected for the varsity. This was disappointing, but then midway through the season a freshman was brought up to the Junior Varsity team and Isaiah’s playing time diminished. The mom said her son wants to play in college and asked for advice on how to deal with this situation. Below was our response:

Thank you for your note. I will try to help the best I can. Sports like baseball can be frustrating because evaluating talent is so subjective. One person sees a player and thinks he’s the best, another person sees the same player and isn’t as impressed. And, of course, we parents usually tend to see our children’s strengths but not their weaknesses. The thing I can tell you is that it is likely that the coach feels there are better players than Isaiah because he wants to win and if he thought Isaiah could help him win, then Isaiah would play more. This doesn’t mean the coach is right, but I doubt he has any other motives. And we all know that you or Isaiah won’t be able to talk the coach into playing him more. Isaiah will have to do something that makes the coach change his mind.

So the obvious first step is to work hard. He should hit in the cage every day. He should get in the weight room and lift and come back in the fall 10-15 pounds heavier. This will immediately impress the coach. It will also improve Isaiah’s confidence. I would also recommend having him attend some college camps in the area if this is in the budget. Maybe he impresses a college coach and gets an offer to play. If a college coach thinks enough of Isaiah to want him, then the high school coach will have no choice but to play him. Plus, this way, Isaiah won’t really have to worry about high school as much anyway since he knows he’s got a place to play when he leaves.

And, depending on the high school availability you have in your area, another option is to transfer to a different school. Of course if you do this, there is no guarantee things will be better…they could be worse. Oh, and this summer, have him hit exclusively with a wood bat even if all the other players are using metal. When he gets back in the fall and starts using metal again he won’t believe how much better of a hitter he is.

Good luck to him and feel free to reach out later if you’d like.

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3 Responses

  1. Hi,
    I was just wondering your take on this.
    My daughter is in 7-8 year old softball league, and her volunteer coach seems disorganized. At practices , there are hardly any drills (if any) run. The girls are basically bored throwing there own balls up in the air, while the coaches let everyone practice batting mostly. At games, before the girls take the field there seems to be alot of confusion on who is playing where. I had assumed it was because the girls are young.
    At the 2nd to last game, my daughter ( 7yrs) was told she would get to pitch in 3rd inning at the beginning of the game by the coach. There are only 3 innings a game at this level. Well my daughter excitedly told me this, so I asked asst if it was true, she said yes. Then before the 3rd inning an assistant read the roster and my daughter was pitching. My daughter was already going out onto the field and out of nowhere the coach said no, so and so is pitching. At that point I stood up and said ” you don’t tell a 7yr old child they are playing a position ,any position several times and let them get excited and then change your mind last minute” you just don’t do that. The coach ran to the bleachers started yelling and pointing her finger in my face. I just kept repeating myself, regarding telling a child and then letting them down. This is a non competitive learning level team. The coaches husband had to drag her back to the dugout. I just didn’t want my 7yr old to be borderline emotionally abused, and hate softball because of it..
    After the episode , my daughter got to pitch because the assistant did say , she is on to pitch, let’s keep everyone where the roster says.

    Looking back , I had issues with the coach before she was the coach. Before she was the coach her dtr and my dtr were friends at school. I tried to have play dates, while they were in kindergarten, but she would forget or cancel them last minute, at least 5 times leaving my dtr disappointed. I took the hint and never asked again. We remained kind to each other and the girls do go to each others birthday parties and that’s it.

    I guess I should have requested my dtr not be on her team. I was so angry, I emailed the president of the league and he said no child should have to go through that. Basically he agreed with me. He also said that at this age, its just a standard roster that the coaches follow so all the kids rotate through every position.

    The game after that seemed great. I could see no chaos in the dugout before taking the field. I just know that if I didn’t say anything at the game, my dtr would have been crying saying “she told me I was playing pitcher but then let someone else instead”. I probably would have been much less calm if that had happened.
    I don’t know what the coach was thinking, maybe she had forgotten, much like the play dates we had set up.

    • It sounds like this coach is disorganized and could use some help. However, standing up and calling her out publicly was wrong, as was the way she handled your yelling at her. You both set a very poor example. And to say that you know your daughter would have been crying if you hadn’t said anything is no excuse. I’m wondering why your daughter would be crying over something this insignificant. We need to be raising our children to be able to handle minor setbacks like this without it causing emotional distress. There are going to be a lot worse things than this happen in the coming years. But if you make it a huge deal, then of course it will be a big deal to her. These girls are 7-8 and there is nothing, except verbal or physical abuse, that should cause this kind of scene at the game.

      • My dtr is acutely aware of fairness lately , that’s all. As all of these young girls are today, everything is a big deal.. Especially when the girls get to pitch they are all excited about it. She ran over to tell me she was pitching and was very happy about it. Plus she remembers everything, I mean everything. I think it was a huge deal, because she had not pitched yet this season it was the 6th game, so it was at least the 18th inning and they even split the innings with 2 girls pitching. They only get to toss 4 pitches at each batter then the coach pitches to the batter. There’s only 12 girls on the team and my dtr never misses a game or a practice. Honestly, I think she was skipped before as well.
        I would have expected a coach to pull me aside and be calm, but that didn’t happen.
        Additionally, she didn’t want my help early on, I offered to help with practices, but she didn’t want me to do anything but collect everyone’s raffle tickets. She already has a co- coach, an assistant, and a team mom. I don’t think she liked me very much, but I really don’t care about that. Nor do I care that she was freaking out, way more than me….I was just putting my hands down (like calm down) and repeating myself over and over again. I deal with people freaking out, and yelling all the time, I work in an ER. I can remain extremely calm when someone is yelling, even screaming obscenities. Usually the person in the Position of Authority has to: ACT IT.( but I guess I screwed up as well and that’s no excuse for me, I should have held myself to a higher standard , but my emotions at the time got the best of me, I was so pissed off , at the time I was believing she intentionally was wanting to upset my dtr, and usually my gut is right) no obscenity, no cursing was used by either of us at the incident.

        So what would have been better would have been to approach the coach at the end of the game? Interesting, I think her response during the game spoke volumes and I don’t think she would have had anything nice to say to me if I approached her at the end of the game either.

        I just wanted to tell the coach not to say anything to a child to get their hopes up , then have them let down by the same coach. Children learn to trust their coach, but my daughter would never trust a coach who lied to her.
        My dtr accepts striking out (which doesn’t happen often) and all the other dissapointments that come with playing sports.

        Next time (hopefully never), I’ll approach a coach at the end of a game or maybe in an email afterwards.

        By the way, the coaches kid is even more sensitive , she cries when she strikes out, every time. Even when she gets out on a base. About half of the girls playing cry at times. Maybe some girls are too sensitive at 7 to play sports. It seems like everything is a big deal to these girls when in that moment.

        Thank you for your time. I get it. No need to reply.

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