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To Baseball Dad and Mom (Part 2)

By Dave Holt

Baseball Practice
What is the common denominator that we see in major league baseball players and their offspring? Ever notice how many sons of major league players go on to become major league baseball players? Why is this happening so often? Obviously they get some athletic genes passed on to them. The biggest factor I see is the amount of time the kids are around the game just playing catch and taking swings and watching good players play baseball.

Discussion Topics:
Does it really matter if ball players play ball on their own time?
Does it help at all to practice outside of the team functions?
Ever get mad at the coach because your kid is sitting on the bench too much?
Want to know what you can do to help your kid get better at playing baseball?
Ever take your kids to a minor league or major league baseball game? College baseball game? Cooperstown to the Hall of Fame?
I would like to help you and your children get the most out of playing youth baseball and make it enjoyable for you all. Look for the options here available to you.

The Best Scenario for Baseball Dad
The best scenario for all of us is to have you plan on dropping your player off with me and the other coaches for a couple hours for the ball game or the baseball practice plan. I am going to help my ballplayers learn how to take responsibility for their own equipment.

My ball players will be able to sustain themselves with their own drinks and refreshments. There is no need to for any parents to be loitering or hovering around the dugout area checking to see if their players are hot or thirsty. If someone has a serious injury then certainly I would welcome your assistance. Other than an injury situation you can just sit back and enjoy the pleasure of
watching your child.  I will have a brief post-game meeting with the team only and then you can have your kids back.

Playing Time, Positions and Batting Order
Playing time and playing positions are often sore subjects by baseball dad and mom. Your child will get plenty of opportunity to play and I will work them into the positions they like as the season progresses.

Discussion topics:
Is it best to focus on one position or try and play multiple positions?
How important is it to try and be a pitcher?
If your child throws lefthanded these are the positions they will be playing.
I use several variations of batting orders so do not even try to figure out my line-up card system.

Let me say this. I know how important hitting is to all my players. If you are going to play for me then you will be swing the bat

Now, this may cost us some games, well so be it. I will make sure the hitters swing the bat. Hitters will go as far as their bat takes them so we will be encouraging a very aggressive hitting approach. We will not be looking for walks. We might even swing at a few bad pitches.

Kids who do not learn to hit will quickly drop out of the game or sit the bench too much. I would rather us go down swinging the bat than looking for walks. Plus, there are not many things better in sports than hitting a baseball squarely.

Ready to Go
The ballplayers should show up ready to go with shirts tucked in, pants pulled up and hats on straight. We will hustle on and off the field. Players will take up a fast jog when taking and leaving the field or returning to the dugout after an out. We will run out all the plays. Players who do not run hard or hustle will take a time on the bench. We will find a place to go to backup a teammate on every play. Never will we throw bats or helmets. Players on the bench will have duties so there will be no time for messing around in the dugout. Players will constantly be looking for opportunities to help and support their teammates.

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.

To: Baseball Dad and Mom

By Dave Holt

Baseball Dad and Baseball Mom: The baseball parent I have found is the biggest problem in youth baseball and youth sports. I think we should get everything straight and out in the open before we go any further.

From here on out the youth baseball experience is going to be all about the kids. Nothing here is going to be about you (baseball parents).

My goals for the team are to teach the kids how to play the game of baseball the right way. I will be positive with them and hope to have an encouraging, uplifting impact on the kids.

(Coaches, ask yourself):
How will your team conduct themselves in all situations?
Are you coaching to win the pennant? tournament? All-Stars?
How will you and your players and parents react with umpires? opponents?
What kind of outfit do you want others in the game to say about the way your team operates?
How will we do our business in all situations?

What is The Role of Baseball Dad and Baseball Mom?
I think the biggest role for the baseball dad (and mom) is to be a quiet, steady source of encouragement.

You know, if you ask youth baseball kids what the kids would want their parents to do during the ballgames, you know what most would say?
Is youth baseball invented for youth baseball players or the parents?
Is really loud cheering best for the baseball players?
Can coaching from the bleachers help or harm your players?
Have you ever witnessed a ballplayer getting embarrassed by actions of their parents in the bleachers?
Is watching your kids playing baseball stressful?
Have you ever wanted to stick up for your kids when something doesn’t go right for them on the field?
Is it hard to turn over your kids to the coaches for a couple hours without interjecting your two cents?

These are the type of discussion points I will go over in my message to baseball parents.

Baseball Umpires Are Not Going to Measure Up
We know this going in that the umpires will not be very good. They will call pitches too high and low strikes but we will not bellyache.
The calls usually have a way of evening out with both teams anyway. Our baseball team and parents will not be allowed to show emotion toward umpires. We will not allow complaining about the umpires, dropping our heads and moping about the umpire calls. We will address the umpires by ‘Mister Umpire’ (or the umpires real name). We never call the umpire ‘Blue’. I will take care of saying things to the umpires when appropriate.

I am really trying to help make the job of baseball dad and baseball mom easy. I am taking all the stress and worry out of the equation.

Discussion points:
Do you know what your main job is?\
Ever just sat back and tried to enjoy watching your kids play ball?
Do you know the one thing I want you to ask your kids after you watch them play?
When you try and coach your kids from the bleachers and behind the fences you probably don’t realize the damage you can cause.
Do you know what the appropriate responses should look like when applauding good play?

I just want you to know how to let the kids go for a couple hours and trust me to do all the coaching and managing.

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.

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Positive Coaching vs. Negative: What Is Your Coaching Style?

By Dave Holt

Baseball coaches will have to choose between positive coaching and negative coaching.

It really boils down to which of the two communication styles you want to use coaching youth baseball.

I just do not believe everyone on the team has to be miserable in order for one to be a good coach.

Start building your own ‘Culture of Player Development’

If you use the negative coaching communication style then you will take the skills of baseball and likely become a nagger. You will find yourself as a nag, nag, nag on every mistake, error, swing and miss or any misplay or boo-boo.

Rarely if ever will baseball players measure up to your standards. You have all seen a father criticize his child constantly and rarely if ever give them praise for anything because nothing is ever good enough.

That is how some youth sports coaches choose to communicate with their entire baseball team. The players will never ‘measure up in their minds.

Importance of Good Communication Skills

Very few great baseball coaches have taken the art of communication and utilized the negative coaching approach.

Become a positive baseball teacher developing confident self-assured baseball players.

Realize the Game is Not That Easy

I think in order to use the positive coaching communication style you have to clearly understand one thing.

You have to have a deep appreciation of how difficult baseball is to play well. Baseball is a very difficult game to play.

Unless you realize the difficulty level then one is more likely to conform to negative communication styles.

The youth baseball coaches that truly ‘get-it’ and appreciate the difficult nature of performing baseball skills often gravitate to the positive coaching method.

That is why the great baseball coaches and professional baseball coaches avoid the negative coaching styles method.

Five Very Effective Communication Skills

1. Watch your tone: I watch the negative coaches yelling, screaming and shouting at their players across the field. Constantly embarrassing and belittling kids after a misplay or a swing and miss while hitting.

Even losing their ‘cool’ and having deep anger and a show of temper in their voices.

I choose the positive coaching method. I will do my coaching mainly between innings in the dugout away from the crowd.

I would rather ask questions and have the players do some critical thinking on the situation and have them explain their mindset.

Then I can reply with affirmation or minor corrections in a calm non-embarrassing light, away from the fray.

Teaching baseball is essential coaching method for positive coaching. Yelling and embarrassing ballplayers is not conducive to good learning communication.

Often volunteer youth baseball coaches have little or no background or training to teach kids. This lack of training often shows when they choose the negative coaching methods.

2. Be Aware of Your Body Language

Negative body language and facial expressions can be just as hurtful or demeaning as verbal words.

Positive coaches are careful to refrain from sending a negative headshake or waving our arms in disgust to our players.

Make a good use of communication skills by only using positive body language. After a swing and miss or a foul ball let the batter know you are pulling for them.

Give them some good body language vibes and some positive claps (along with ‘Hey, that’s the way to swing it!”)

3. Use Humor in your Communication Style

There is nothing wrong with keeping things light from time to time. Playing baseball tense and anxious inhibits baseball skills from rising.

Coaches and parents often take the game of baseball so serious they forget to enjoy the games.

Speak with a smile and it will be harder to come across as a mean coach with bad communication.

Avoid sarcasm though. One persons joke is not always funny to someone else. I had a player quit one time because I did not take enough time to listen to how bad a couple of their teammates were ‘picking on him.’ I kind of heard them but I just sort of let it go as sarcasm and having a joke.

But they were really picking on this kid day after day and I really dropped the ball by not putting a stop to the teasing. I felt sick when I finally realized how bad the situation had reached. I’m working on my lack of empathy character flaws so I do not miss this behavior in the future.

4. The Compliment Sandwich:

Tips for Effective Communication

After watching youth baseball games for a while I think that it is about 10:1 ratio. That is 10 negative statements to 1 positive encouraging line.

I have no scientific proof or data on these bad communication assumptions but I know it is pretty close.

I like to use the complement sandwich. For every negative or corrective statement ‘sandwich’ it with a couple good positive encouraging lines.“Hey Larry, that was a really good cut! You were just a little late on it. Now, get ready this time to swing it.”

Use two or three times as many positive complements and encouragement to any pessimistic, downbeat, nonconstructive, unhelpful, disproving and harmful coaching statements.

Study the pros. They aren’t always right, but baseball IS their business. Why ask a butcher how to roof your house?.

5. Avoid the Post Game Verbal Lashing

Professional teams and some college teams often avoid meeting after a loss.

Why? Simply because a coach might be too emotional after a tough loss and communicate negatively after the heat of the battle.

I am not telling you to avoid a post game meeting but you might want to be aware of your emotions.

Keep the meeting short and if you have more to say wait until the next time you get together. Parents want to get going after the game and don’t want to held up by a lecturing upset baseball coach. Remember…positive coaching! It works a whole lot better. Just try it.

Similarly, avoid the post-game analysis on the way home in the mini-van with your kids. Youth players do not want to listen to you re-hash the entire ball game and nit-pick every player and second guess undermining the baseball coaches strategies.

And do not blame the umpires either. Try it if you think it looks easy.

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.

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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.