Coaching Sportsmanship-Youth baseball’s biggest goal
When coaching youth baseball you need to list out your priorities. Coaching sportsmanship should be pretty high on the list. I have been carrying on conversations lately with quite a few youth baseball coaches and they all say that sportsmanship is high on their list of coaching points.
Poor Examples of Sportsmanship
Then I get on the internet in chat groups and watch videos. I witness coaches teaching things that would not be considered good sportsmanship. I see comments in chat rooms like, “If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying.” I get sick to my stomach.
I had one youth baseball coach actually tell me in a chat room that I shouldn’t ask for a coach who’s team blatantly cheated on video to be fired. “He has a family to support,” was the argument he had for letting this poor example of human behavior continue to lead young men.
I am not the reincarnation of Christ. I don’t claim to be perfect in every aspect of my life. I can say that I am fair, honest and trustworthy. I also can say that without a doubt I have always played fair and taught every player that I have ever met from the age of 5 all the way to the adults that I play with to play fair.
Whenever I encounter a situation where a player or coach is not playing by the rules I ask for them to be enforced. If they are not enforced I find a way to enforce them myself within the rules. That is how I was raised and taught to compete.
Call em’ like you see em’
There are far too many adults that feel teaching a child to win should come before teaching them the fundamentals of a sport. These adults should be called out for what they are, BAD COACHES! If you have a child playing for one of these poor role models, speak up. Tell them you don’t need their poor choices being taught to your children.
Difference between FAIR and RIGHT
In a society where there is great debate over how “soft” we are getting and all the complaining about how kids should get equal time whether they earn it or not we are losing the battle to poor sportsmanship. Instead of teaching kids that if they pay they play we should be teaching them to show up, on time. We should teach them to work hard to achieve their goals. Everyone should want their child to experience how hard work and dedication to learning can give them an achievement that no one will ever be able to take away.
There are plenty of great coaches in youth sports. Some of them care a lot about the children they are working with. Coaches are role models and need to act accordingly. Teaching a kid to run around the bases while the other team throws the ball around the field isn’t teaching the player to be better it is teaching them to pick on the helpless. Complaining to umpires about judgment calls in a baseball game being played by 6 to 8-year-old kids is not caring about fair treatment for your team it is being a jerk who is putting winning at the top of your priority list.
EGO’S checked at the door
When you volunteer to be a youth baseball coach the first thing you need to do is check your ego at the door. You don’t matter half as much as the players on your team do. You don’t win or lose baseball games. It is all about the kids. If you think you won the game then you are not teaching your kids to play the game without you which should be your goal.
Buy into the big picture
As much as I believe that we should keep score at every level of baseball, because the kids care and there are lessons to be learned from winning and losing, I also believe that you can’t lose if you play hard, learn and have fun, no matter what the scoreboard says. I have come out on the losing end of the score in some of the greatest games I ever played in.
At 13 years old I got to play in a Pop Warner Super Bowl game. One of the greatest experiences of my life. 50+ players, cheerleaders, and coaches got to fly from Massachusetts to Florida together. We all got to stay in a hotel together. Every one of us was allowed to put on our uniforms and represent our team our parents and our town. We got killed so bad I don’t even remember the score. I do remember getting on the field making plays the way my coaches taught me. I remember walking off the field at the end of the game with my head held high. I played on a team that did it right all year long. Just like we were taught.
There are a lot of kids that have had the opportunity to win a championship that they deserve. I applaud every one of them.
Cheating or paying attention
I question how to make things better and cheating never crosses my mind. Surely as a coach, you have to respect your own ability to teach enough to not resort to cheating. Trick plays are one thing, outright cheating should never be a resort. If you get to the point where you are considering cheating, just quit coaching. It will be a better ending for everyone.
Teaching kids the hidden ball play is not cheating. Using illegal equipment is cheating. The difference is a hidden ball play teaches both the players that are running the play and the players getting caught by it to pay attention at all times on the field. This is something that a coach should teach during practice. Using an illegal bat gives one team or player an advantage beyond what can be taught and is a safety risk.
As a coach, you have to ask yourself what you want your players to remember about you after they are done playing. Do you want them to think back and say what a great man who taught me to have fun with integrity and discipline? Or would you like them to remember you as that guy that coached my team when we won the championship because I ran 10 feet inside the base rounding third and scored from second on a play that he designed?
I will strongly encourage you if you agree with the latter don’t be a baseball coach or any other coach for that matter.