Thursday, April 6, 2017

Baseball Parent or Baseball PITA? Dos and Don’ts for Being a Great Ball Parent

OK, so when my kids first started playing sports there was A LOT I didn’t know. Most things I figured out along the way but I’m sure there were times over the years I was a PITA (pain in the a**) to a coach or my kid. I would like to have seen a list like this way back then before I fell into some of these ditches.

Being a “great ball parent” might not seem that important to you but, aside from the obvious reasons, one thing parents need to think about is how THEIR behavior may affect both their child and his or her opportunities.

Let’s say there’s one spot left on the all-star team or that crackerjack travel ball team you’d love to play for and there are three equally talented kids up for the spot. I can tell you from experience and from close friendships with coaches over the years, the kid with the PITA parents ain’t getting that spot. When all else is equal, coaches will look at the parents. Those parents who foster sportsmanship, let the coaches do their job, who show up ready for practice, who are pleasant and easy to get along with, etc. are who the coaches will lean toward.

Baseball Parent or Baseball PITA? Dos and Don’ts for Being a Great Ball Parent

13 Dos and Don’ts for Being a Great Ball Parent

DO make sure your child has a cold drink before the game or practice starts.

DON’T go into the dugout to give it to her. The best rule of thumb for parents where dugouts are concerned is to STAY OUT. Period.

DO communicate any important information or relevant questions to the coach. If your son is recovering from an ankle sprain or wants to stay 5 minutes after practice because he’s unclear what “bend your back” means, quickly communicate that to the coach before practice or the game.

DON’T blow up the coach with 147 texts and phone calls asking why your son is batting tenth or why Billy always plays shortstop. Trust your coach. TRUST. YOUR. COACH. If you don’t, find another team.

DO keep it to yourself.

DON’T scream, mumble, suck your teeth, yell, roll your eyes or in any way communicate negativity when a player does something wrong. They’re human. They’re kids. AND they’re not your kids so unless you just WANT to make everyone hate you, keep your mouth shut and fix your face.

DO be pleasant to the umpires.

DON’T yell at, make snarky comments to or any way heckle the umpires. Your coach will communicate to the umps if a bad call is made. Making the umpires mad doesn’t help anyone. Most parks and leagues use the same umps regularly so you’re going to see them again. The last thing you want is for them to remember your team as the one with the a-hole parents.

DO make sure your child has eaten before the game.

DON’T shove a cheeseburger or a sausage biscuit into your kid’s hand as he’s walking into the dugout. It distracts him and his teammates (hey, I wanna cheeseburger!) and will likely cause him to be sluggish and bloated during the game.

DO encourage the team.

DON’T try to be the coach. When the coach is yelling “GET BACK!” and half the parents are yelling “GO! RUN!” the player is going to have a hard time hearing the coach. Sometimes parents are right and sometimes we’re wrong so it’s best to just zip it and let the coach, well coach.

DO teach your child to be a team player.

DON’T talk trash about the coach or other players in front of your kid. EVER. A good team is a family who supports, loves and encourages each other. If your daughter hears you say that #7 shouldn’t be on team (can’t hit, couldn’t catch a cold, etc.) then she will believe it and stop encouraging her teammate.

DO work with your kid at home.

DON’T just show up to practice twice a week and expect your kid to be Chipper Jones. If your son is having a hard time catching pop flies, get him out in the yard and hit him a bucket of balls (or ten). If your daughter is struggling at bat, take her to the cages. You can’t expect the coach alone to make your child a better ballplayer.

DO cheer for the team.

DON’T just cheer for your child. I see this more with travel ball than I did with rec ball or all-stars. I saw a kid hit a solid triple a few weeks ago and there wasn’t a PEEP from the bleachers. When parents cheer for and encourage all of the players, the kids will too. A team is a thousand times more successful than the sum of its parts.

DO make sure your child is well-rested.

DON’T have a big sleepover the night before a tournament or big game and don’t let your child stay up until midnight just because it’s Saturday. I can’t teach my kids much of anything when it comes to softball or baseball. But I can make sure they’re well-rested (hydrated, nourished, etc.) and ready to give 100%.

DO make smart choices if it’s your turn for team snacks or drinks.

DON’T give someone else’s kid caffeine. And be sure to ask about allergies if you’re planning on providing snacks or other food to all the players.

DO make it fun.

DON’T over commit your child to too many teams or let them play for a coach who will sacrifice their mental well-being and growth for a win. Playing ball is HARD WORK so there has to be a balance between the blood, sweat & tears and the fun stuff. Don’t let your child get burned out because you let it be all work all the time.

DO be a decent human being.

DON’T YOU EVER yell at, intimidate or heckle a child on another team. I hate that I had to add this to the list but unfortunately I’ve seen it happen. Many times.

Baseball Parent or Baseball PITA? Dos and Don’ts for Being a Great Ball Parent