The Ole Ball Game

Son being benched repeatedly!!

by Gio
(Illinois )

Gio asked: My son is 10 years old and on a full time travel league. For the last 4 years my sons heart has been into baseball, let me add he is pretty good at it too. ;)


Anyway, the head coach is not fond of me for whatever reason and I've tried to do everything I can to make things right. I believe he's trying to prove to us that he can sit him out and do what he wants as a coach.

We just started our season and have played 6 games thus far, and out of those 6 my son has been benched 4 games at least 3 innings per game.

Now, other parents have noticed and even asked me, what's his deal. Of course, the coache's kids are ALWAYS in, even after the numerous number of errors they have made. Last nights game, error after error after error, It was truly sad, our boys lost big AGAIN.

Let me tell you, even the coaches gave up on our own boys, didn't coach the bases and just didn't even encourage them.

Might I also add, all parents received an email about cheering on the boys. We are to act as if our boys are at work, can NOT cheer them on,nor talk to them. Which talking to I'm ok with, I understand can be a distraction to the boys.

These are just a few things as I could keep going, but I'm sure y'all can see my point.

Ok, so, as a parent what do I do? We are trying to figure out how to approach all 3 coaches without my son having to get the punishment for it. Our son has been punished enough and the coach has proven his point. My son is heartbroken and how can you lift one's spirits after being benched for so long. Let me also add, those 4 games he's been benched, he has only played 1/2 innings as we've been timed out or just slaughtered.

I know I keep going on rambling, but my heart truly breaks for my son, whose passion is baseball.

Someone please lead me in the right direction!!

Thank you!

Rick answered: Gio, thank you for your question!

You are definately between a rock and a hard place.

Lets start from the top and work our way through.

Is there a Little League or City Recreational League availble for your son to play in? In the event that you are unable to work out your differences with the coaches, maybe one of those would be a better option for this season.

Since he is currently on a full time travel team, I am assuming that you have a financial investment in this season, which you may be unable to get back if you move to something else.

Does this League have a governing board, President or some entity that has rules and bylaws? If so, within that set up are there regulations for amount of playing time for players, if indeed the families have a monetary comittment in place? I would think that at the 10 yr old level, that would be the case, as that age group should be all about building a skill base for moving forward in their baseball careers.
The games should be an opportunity for players to make use of what they have been taught in practice, and apply it to the truly fun aspect of playing in a game setting.

Who wins and who loses really won't matter 10 minutes after the game is concluded; but the effort put forth, the team interaction and the opportunity to use what they have been taught in a game is what gets carried forward to the next practice and game.

How many players are there on the roster? Is there some form of rotation, or has it always been the same 9-10 each game? If no rotation, you are back to the question about league playing time rules.

If it is only your son, then the situation is different. If you have been unable to resolve it by speaking with the coach and it sounds like that has made matters worse to this point, there must be someone at a higher level within the League that you can speak with.

If a 10 year old league does not have a playing rule established, it would be my belief that it should. I would ultimately look for a league that has one, not because of the winning or losing; but because each of the players on a team that age, should have the opportunity to play and develop.

This is just my opinion, for what it's worth, at the level you are speaking of, players should be taught to play all positions on the field and have the opportunity to play those positions at some point in the games. Deciding at 10 years old who is a budding shortstop or centerfielder is way too soon.

When kids learn how to function at all spots, it eventually makes them more versitile and subsecuently more valuable to all the teams they will play for in the future. It is a valuable thing for the kids.

I would be unable to find any good reason why coaches would stop coaching the bases or stop encouraging their players. I would say that, as a group of team parents, you might all want to look elsewhere for a place for your kids to play where the players self worth is not determined by whether they win or lose, or make errors or mistakes.

Errors and mistakes are all a part of the game. If you are not making them, you aren't playing. Practice is where you teach them how to play, the games show you what you need to work on, and then it's back to practice to work on the details. It is all a process whereby players learn to focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves, a very important learning point for young players.

The umpires always used to say "play ball". It was never "work at baseball". If the game is work to the players at 10 years old, few of them will ever see a level above JV high school ball.

Cheering players on is all about being a fan and a parent. It becomes a coaches job to help the players seperate themselves from what is being said around them, and focus on what is in front of them at the moment. It is all a learning process.

A situation I once ran into at a game. We were behind in by 2 runs, in the 5th inning of a varsity baseball game. Had done little to effect the pitcher, who was cruising along.

As it can be in baseball, the pitcher lost it and walked our 8,9 and 1 hitters to load the bases.

Our 2,3 and 4 hitters were some of the best hitters I had ever had as a group. You have to feel good, standing in the coaches box at third base, knowing that these 3 are coming to the plate.

Short version: Each one came to the plate, heard their parent or patents yell out, "hit it outa here", and two popped up, one struck out.

We ended up losing that game by 2 runs. Parents fault? No. Players fault? No. The fault would be mine, hadn't gotten them to the point mentally that they could block out what was being said and concentrate on seeing the ball, trusting their skills and hitting it hard somewhere.

That separation and concentration is a long learning process. You can't legislate the quiet on a baseball field, like they do on a golf course. Players learn to seperate it through repetition, just like they learn to hit, field and throw through repetition. Ten years old is not to early to start, it is too early to expect fantastic results.

The talking portion of their rule I can understand. Let the kids concentrate on the game and enjoy it for what it is. It is their time to share those moments with their team mates and coaches.

I don't have a foolproof solution for your current situation. If you are the only family effected, and the coaches and board have no process for solution, you would be best served to locate another venue for your son to play in.

If players are not having fun, it is not a good situation for them. Baseball is all about fun.

Well, I did some rambling of my own here. I would be interested in knowing if there are league rules and such, and how it is going as you move forward.

Keep supporting your son and stay positive with him. This is only one team and one season, in what may be a long and memory filling baseball experience. He doesn't need to be defined by this one team experience. There is a lot of baseball in front of him.

Good luck. I know this is not easy by any means.

Yours in baseball,

Rick





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