Teaching Players How the Respect the Game

By Dave Holt

One of my best coaching tips for baseball is this. Teach more than the game.

We baseball coaches are pretty good at coaching skills, coaching strategy and teaching baseball techniques. We are called to go beyond the X’s and O’s and baseball fundamentals.

We must take advantage to seek opportunities to teach more than the game. Baseball is our ‘vehicle’ that we use as an excuse to teach vital life skills and virtues.

If a group of baseball kids can leave us as better teammates, having learned to play by the rules and pulled together when times are tough, don’t you think you might have left a pretty big footprint on their lives?

My player expectation chart started with character. In my ‘character’ column I break it into (3) categories of RESPECT”. Incorporate teaching these points in with your coaching tips for baseball.

  • Respect for your family, school, classmates, teachers, coaches, community and church. Take time and effort to be a good citizen. Give back to the people around you. Look out for the needs of others. Be part of the solution—not part of the problem.
  • Respect for baseball equipment, facilities, umpires, and opponents. We do not ever throw helmets, bats or baseball equipment. It is dangerous, distrustful and destructive.
  • We always take care of our facilities and do our work duties around the ball field. We may not always agree with the umpires but we will be respectful at all times. We do not show up our opponents or run our mouths in disrespect.
  • Respect the game by always playing hard. Run hard, play hard, and practice hard all the time. Take special notice to grow and become the best teammate possible.
  • Pick up teammates when they are down. Pull together in tough times—do not look to point and blame others. Put the team before yourself rather than pouting and pulling others down.
  • Avoid bad things and bad actors. Stay away from tobacco, drugs and alcohol and your peers that do use this stuff. There is plenty of bad stuff and bad people in this world.
  • It is not hard to find illegal products and the people that can provide the stuff. Saying No takes courage and conviction. Pick your friends extra carefully. Temptation and peer pressure is real and powerful.

Evil is lurking at every corner to get our kid’s attention on the bad stuff. Resist bad stuff. Keep an eagle eye out for destructive habits.

I spent almost great 20 years in professional baseball as a minor league player, field manager, and various time in scouting, and acquiring players. I was with an affiliated ball club the Boston Red Sox and a few years in the Independent Professional Leagues.

I hardly ever experienced any players disrespecting another team’s players. Yes, professionals are highly competitive and we did get into occasional bench clearing situations. But, these incidents were not out of disrespect but more out of individual frustrations and backing up your teammates.

Now, I have a very different story in my years in amateur baseball. At every level I have coached in I have seen several obvious instances of mean spirited and unsportsmanlike behaviors.

I have seen coaches tell players to bench jockey my teams, fail to control their players’ mouths and look the other way when the dugout gets raunchy and classless.

My players often ask me if professional ballplayers razz the other team’s players. I tell them, “You know, pro ball players respect each other enough to not engage in stuff like that. Everyone is trying to survive just to keep a uniform on, therefore pros play hard, compete hard but rarely get into a mouth war with their opponents as peers.”

I want my team to be the classiest team we will see all season. My most important coaching tips for baseball is to play with class. Be humble in victory and sad but determined in defeat. No profanity or verbal abuse. No taunting opponents—only pull for out team. No arguing with umpires—and call the umps by their names.

Coaching Tips for Baseball Parents

Baseball coaches set the tone for your baseball parents. Baseball parent behavior is an extension of the baseball coach whether you like it or not. One of my biggest coaching tips for baseball is ‘set the tone’ for the behaviors you want from your spectators.

  • Parents are an example of good sportsmanship at ball games especially with the opponent’s fans, umpires and opposing players.
  • You are welcome to watch baseball practice. If you do, please situate yourself where you will not be a distraction. Stay in the seating areas.
  • Please do not talk to your child during practice or games until practice is over.
  • Please do not come on the ball field or near the dugouts at any time. Players should begin to take responsibility to bring their own gear and drinks.
  • Never coach your child or any kids from the bleachers.

Parents: Enjoy the games and support the players by letting them know you enjoy watching them play and are appreciative of the effort they put out.

After finishing his professional playing career Dave spent eleven seasons managing in the Red Sox minor league system helping to develop several major league ballplayers. After leaving the Red Sox Dave managed and recruited in the Independent Professional Baseball leagues. He has also coached collegiate wood bat and high school teams. His site, coachandplaybaseball.com is a wealth of information for baseball players and coaches of all levels.

Today’s Quote

“A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” – Thomas Carlyle

What are you going to do this weekend?

Got an all-star tournament to attend? Going golfing on a warm summer day? Maybe a swim at the beach? Tennis anyone? Whatever you do, around the chores and sleeping in, make sure to get out and get some sports and exercise in. When Monday rolls around again you’ll be glad you did. Enjoy your weekend!

Controversy in Tee Ball!

We get that everyone loves their kids and the first time through sports we don’t always understand the importance (or lack thereof) of what happens in games between five and six year-olds. Here is an example. A Little League District Facebook page posted a Tee Ball rules clarification. Reading through the comments it is clear to see what occurred and that not everyone can let it go.

Little League District:
TEE BALL RULES UPDATE: it has come to our attention that there is some confusion about some types of defensive plays in Tee Ball. The issue is a little technical, but to make a long story short…CLARIFICATION (in short): Any defensive player in possession of a ball ruled in play may attempt to legally put out any batter-runner or runner.  This is not an umpiring issue – this was a well-intentioned comment on player development by District representatives as a response to a question during the pre-tournament umpire clinic. The umpires were doing what they were told were the prevailing approved decisions, and they have been informed of the clarifications for all future games. All prior games, whether impacted or not, are final. The games were called equally for both teams. We appreciate the opportunity to learn this game of baseball in front of this community, because sometimes it is hard to keep it all straight.

Post from Individual 1, sharing with Individual 2:
those 3 outs would have counted

Individual 2 replying:
Wow!! Oh well. Now we know for next year.

Post from Individual 3:
So what does this do for the games that have already been played. Rules should have been clarified before the start of this tournament. It is unfair for teams to prepare to play and rules are not carried out across the board. I came to watch games on Saturday, and when it was time for our team to play on Sunday the rules were completely different, and the same umpires were there. This is unfair to the kids involved. This clarification had it been done BEFORE the tournament started would have made a difference in the games. It is unfair and something needs to be done. A conversation needs to be had regarding these games and implementing rules. You can’t post a clarification 2 days into a tournament and say all games are final. What are we teaching our kids if ADULTS can’t take ownership. This is a District issue that needs to be fixed soon.

Reply from Little League District:
I appreciate your statement. It was a pleasure to talk to you today, and I look forward to meeting with you soon to continue the conversation.

 

Core sports on the decline

More Americans are choosing “casual” sports over “core”, which may not only be bad for participants, but for the industry itself according to an article by our partner, PHIT America.org. One issue, which we’ve written about here for years, is the “over-seriousification” we see in youth sports. There are other issues the article addresses as well.

Who knew Canadians took their 7 year-old bowling so seriously?

When a young boy competing in a bowling tournament in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada bowled the game of his life he was quickly given a lesson on the ways of the world. Was this petty, or were they just enforcing necessary rules?

Simple Fundraising Tips for a Grand-Slam Fundraiser!

Below are some excellent tips from our partners at Just Fundraising.

 

Often, a team fundraising manager can put in endless hours of effort organizing, following up, and reporting on their fundraiser, only to have the fundraiser yield dismal financial results. Here are 3 important pointers that will significantly increase your chance of fundraising success.

1- Know WHY you are fundraising and communicate it throughout your fundraiser.

When parents and players know WHY they are running a fundraiser, the results are always better. It gives the fundraiser more purpose, and with purpose comes people’s desire to step-up to the plate and help. Another key reason to communicate your WHY to your participants, is so they can pass on the message to their potential supporters, who will often be more generous when they know WHY they are supporting your team instead of just WHAT they are buying. Wouldn’t you buy more than 1 chocolate bar if you knew the team would be representing your city in their very first out-of-state tournament? Would you be more open to buying a $15 tub of cookie dough, if you knew the city had recently cut the local budget for youth sports, and that the teams’ 4 year-old uniforms needed replacing? When you communicate WHY you are fundraising, you appeal to your supporters’ emotions, and they will naturally want to help you.

2- Establish your precise fundraising goals.

When our sales team asks coaches and group leaders how much they need to raise, 90% of the time, the answer is ‘as much as possible!’ By having a vague or unrealistic target, you’ve already taking the energy out of your fundraiser. Most participants need to know what effort and results are expected of them in order to reach a pre-determined meaningful goal. If not, they simply won’t be as motivated and many will take the easy route, and sell a bare minimum. If your overall goal is to raise $750, the exact amount needed to cover your 2 tournaments this season, and if you have 15 players on your team, then each child needs to bring in a minimum of $50 profit. If you’re selling products (i.e. gourmet popcorn), and making $5 profit per unit sold, then you should set a clear goal for each player to sell a minimum of 10 units each. If you want to encourage more sales, add more prizes over the 10 unit mark, and let your team know before-hand where any extra funds raised will be allocated.

3- Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

A great location is to business, what great communication is to fundraising.

Prepare them… Before the fundraiser kick-off, it would be a good idea to let parents know of your team’s budgetary shortfalls, and the need to fundraise, so that they’re not surprised when they are asked to fundraise.

Kick-Off … Even if this is just a team fundraiser, it’s important to have an official fundraiser kick-off, with all of the parents and children. It’s the perfect opportunity to create team spirit and to talk about how much greater your season will be thanks to everyone’s expected fundraising efforts. It’s also a great idea to have a few kids do a role-play of the perfect sales pitch in front of all, so they can all see how it’s done!

Parent Letter … Make sure you write up a parent letter specifying the important dates, reminding them why this fundraiser is so important, and noting their expected sales obligations,.

Follow-up … once or twice per week, take the opportunity to highlight the players who are doing a great job selling, to share their selling strategies and to encourage all to keep up their fundraising efforts so they reach their individual and team fundraising targets.

JustFundraising’s How to Start a Fundraiser guide has more in-depth tips and ideas to help teams, schools, and other groups run a successful fundraiser.

Michael Jones is a writer at JustFundraising.com. He has 16 years of experience helping sports teams, schools, church organizations, community groups and charities reach their fundraising objectives