My son benched...what to tell him?
First Base Action
Anonymous asked: My son (7) just started playing baseball last year and fell in love with the sport. Baseball is taken very seriously in this area and most have played since they were 4. My son improved dramatically in just a year and ended up as the starting first baseman by the end of this past spring's rec league. He also ended up making the all-star team (B team - almost made the A). This all-star coach is playing to win, which we knew going into it. Orginally, there were to be two practices a week and tournaments fri, sat, sun, but it has turned into 3-4 practices per week. My son does this with a smile on his face. He's the kid that wants to stay longer for practice, hates when its over. We saw though that the coach was not going to play him at first base...wouldn't even give him the chance, adn immediately stuck him at left or right field. I hate to bring this up, but the coaches' sons all got the "preferred" positions. Let me state that none of these kids are super stars and are all about the same skill level. Anyway my son accepts the outfield positions with on his smile and has been busting his butt. Then tournaments came....he was made to sit on the bench for 4 innings (out of 6). My son thought he was being punished and didn't understand what he did wrong, but he didn't pout or cop an attitudge...he encouraged his team from the dugout. My heart broke. I calmly approached the coach after the game in private and politely asked him to explain his decision (I've never confronted anyone in my life so this was hard for me) and the coach simply stated that everyone has to take their turn on the bench since there were 11 on the team. So I passed this along to my son to save his confidence. Well, he was benched AGAIN. I was so sad for him...still he did not pout.
I've rec'd different advice...some have basically said "stop coddling him and tell the truth...that the coach doesn't think he's good enough so that he'll try that much harder." Some say, "don't worry about it if your son's not worried about it." My son is not stupid...he knows in his heart that he was benched b/c his coach feels he's the weakest player, yet EVERYONE on this team has made their fair share of errors as well as great plays. My son also has the highest RBI record on the team and is batting last. it's sad b/c while sitting on the bench, he is simply missing out and failing to develop, not getting the experience and this frustrates me. Sorry I'm rambling.....like every parent, I don't like to see my child's confidence killed at such a young age.
Could you shed some light on this and how should I approach my son?
Rick answered: Thank you for your question.
This is a topic that is becoming more and more prevalent.
Let me start by saying that it isn't unusual for All Star teams to already have a set lineup at the time they are picked. Generally speaking, there is not a tryout situation. The coaches have seen the players during the season and have an idea of how they want things to go.
It would help your son if you would talk with him and let him know you feel this is an opportunity to learn additional positions. While the time frame is limited, the exposure to outfield positions can become an asset as he moves through the system. There is a universal stigma in youth baseball that playing the outfield is, as you mentioned, "being stuck there". Kids often feel they are in the outfield because they don't have the talent to play in the infield. At the youth level, that may be the way many coaches think; but the reality is outfielders have no one to back them up, and a whole lot more ground that they have to cover.
At age 7, I believe kids should be learning to play all positions during their time in these levels. Developing their baseball and team orientation skills is a far greater goal than playing on an all star team, or being the best shortstop in the 7 year old league.
Mark Grace, former Chicago Cub and Arizona Diamondback, when asked what it was he would most like players to say about him now that he was retired was, " that I was a good teammate".
That says a lot. While this all star situation may turn out to be one of little playing time for your son, there are a lot of experiences taking place that can benefit him as he moves forward.
The more positions a player can handle, the more valuable he will be to teams in his future, and the more options he will have to get into the lineup.
Your son sounds like he has caught the "baseball fever" thing. That is good! Encourage him to stay positive, learn everything he can as he goes along. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not so good. Actually it mirrors the game itself. All of it is an opportunity to learn and handle all manner of situations.
It sounds like he had a good and successful season. However the all star deal works out, he is getting some additional practice and time with the other kids.
There are so many changes coming in his baseball life over the next 11-16 years. This all star situation will be a drop in the bucket, whether he plays every inning, or plays very few.
I would hope that the coach would work out a rotation where the playing time would even out. With only 11 players, it would not be hard. They are 7, and this is not the Little League World Series in Williamsport, high school state championship, the college world series or MLB World series. While someone does have to sit out some because only 10, if they use a DH, can play at one time, it takes no special effort to create a working rotation for all those selected.
Good luck as you move forward. Please let me know how it is going. This is always a tough situation, usually harder on you as parents than it is on your son.
Yours in baseball,