Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Little League Coaching - Dealing With Parents

By Jim Bain

When deciding to coach a little league baseball team it's quite natural to have all thoughts on formulating practice schedules and drills, equipment, coaches, just a whole marinade of tasks which need addressing.

It's quite understandable, but a terrible mistake, to not think of how you're going to handle the parents of your players. Most parents are fantastic and understanding people, who if the team stays together over the years, will become friends. However, as with any activity in life, there are people who seem intent on making everyone around them miserable.

Let's be pro-active and try to head off any trouble or unfortunate experiences before it starts.
It should be, but isn't a requirement that every coach have a team meeting with the players and their parents as soon as the teams are put together and definitely before the first practice.

Set up a time and place to meet. I would not suggest your home, as it is your personal domain and any disagreement becomes a personal attack on you. You may not agree with this, but it's a natural human response which can't be completely controlled. Instead, reserve a room at a church, school gym or any other public place for a couple of hours.

Sit down and formalize a list of items you want to address and write them down. The worse thing that can come out of a meeting is forgetting to cover an important subject. No matter how good your memory, write it down.

A few suggestions to cover during the meeting:

* Your philosophy and intentions of how you plan to run the team. This is possibly the most important subject of the meeting as it's the number cause of problems during the season.

Don't be bashful about informing people what you intend to do, be honest and up front. If you're the type of person who could care less if you won a game all season as long as the kids have fun and learned something, say so. A parent who wants his son to be taught baseball with a strict adherence to hard practice and a desire to win, should immediately try and get their kid onto another team. It's better for them, it's better for you.

On the other hand if you think learning how to play the game and formulating the beginnings of being competitive, which means winning, are very important, the parents who don't want little Johnny subjected to the stress can bail out now.

* Give everyone a copy of anticipated practice dates and locations.
* If established, a schedule of games, times, locations and field number.
* If you're in a traveling league, maps of how to get to all the different ball parks
* A "treats" or "concession stand duty" schedule.
* Any organization events and dates, such as team pictures, picnics or monthly meetings

These are just beginning suggestions, add as many topics as you feel necessary, but be careful of holding too long of a meeting. Short and sweet is better.

Jim Bain - Social Right Activist for the UAW, former minor league baseball player dedicated to teaching Baseball to youth. Visit his action & value packed website today. http://www.Learn-Youth-Baseball-Coaching.com

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