Now that I have retired from the active ranks of baseball coaching, I can express my opinions without appearing smug or confrontational, or whatever other emotion I may provoke from others’ toes I may or may not inadvertently step on.
You may question my credentials and why I think it gives me the right to offer my opinion. Simply put, over 45 years of coaching, playing, dealing with players of all ages and their parents’ personalities and inner demons which they feel must be vented at someone, which is usually the coach.
Youth Baseball coaches, for the most part, are the salt of the earth. They are not paid a dime and always end up taking a large chunk of change out of their own pocket for treats, equipment, tournament fees, loss of overtime income at work because they had a ball game that night, and a dozen other normal expenses.
They devote every spare moment of their time throughout the season to the Team and live and die with the win and loss column, not for their own ego, but for the kids and their pride and sense of accomplishment. My hat is off to every baseball coach out there, winner or loser, because in my opinion they’re all winners.
The very first issue a Rookie coach must resolve is “What kind of coach am I going to be?” I must admit I cringe when I hear a coach say “As long as the kids have fun.” That’s a cop out and a mask to hide the coach’s inability to teach the game of baseball.
1. Winning is fun. I’m not talking the type of coaching attitude which create raging monsters who scream at kids for losing or making a mistake, but I do think coaches have an obligation to teach kids they can be successful through hard work, which is not only a baseball value but a life enriching value players will carry with them their entire lives.
Coaches are instilled with the responsibility of teaching kids how to achieve goals in life through hard work, persistence, high morals and teamwork. Your chances of winning the lottery are much greater than the chance any ball player you coach reaching the Major Leagues. However, with the grace of God, all of your players will reach adulthood and you will have an input into what kind of adult they become.
2. A coach must either know the game of baseball, or be willing to surround themselves with people who do. Most people, unlike you, don’t have the guts it takes to raise their hand and say “I’ll be responsible for this team.” However, there are many who will volunteer their time and skills as long as they have that inner peace they’re not obligated to be at practice or a league meeting.
A coach must be willing to capitalize on these situations and take whatever help they can, when they can, from people more knowledgeable than themselves. Why would a coach do this? Why share the glory with someone who is rarely there to help with the work? Because you have a responsibility to teach the kids, by whatever means necessary, how to properly play baseball.
These are but two goals of a baseball coach, but they are the very foundation from which a good coach becomes a great coach. He must realize there is a fine line between being obsessed with winning, and the goal of teaching kids winning is the ultimate goal of hard work and effort.
A coach must consider he’s not only teaching, or not teaching, the game to the kids for this season, but instead for the players’ entire future. A marginal player, who loses a year of learning required baseball skills, may Never catch up to their peers.
It’s a heavy yoke for a coach to carry, but anything worth achieving is worth the risk, and I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than helping kids develop into fine adults.