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Worst Coach Stories

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by riboflav, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. RIFan

    RIFan Member SoSH Member

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    That's exactly what I did when I coached t-ball. It worked out great and the kids liked it because they didn't get bored.
     
  2. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I had my first experience as "head coach" in my kids U7 rec league soccer over Memorial Day weekend (regular coach was away). Normally in this league, with each team having 9-10 kids on roster, they set the games to be two games of 4v4 right next to each other so there is little need for subbing and all kids play most of the time.

    Well this time, they just set it as one game -- maybe because they were short on refs due to the holiday? So my team has 8 so I simply divide the team in half and ask the ref to notify me at the 5-minute mark so I could do a whole-sale substitution. My thought is that this way all kids play equally and I don't have to try to manage constant subs.

    A few minutes in the ref comes over to say that the other coach wants to play 5v5 because "she has a lot of players". I tell the ref that I want to stick with 4 but I'm fine with her playing 5 at a time. (It's not like the amoeba-like blob that is U7 spacing is going to be made much different with an extra kid, but I didn't want to have to upset my simple substitution pattern). So that's what happens.

    A few minutes later, parent #1 comes over. "Are you aware that the other team is playing with 5 players?" Yes. "But we are only playing with 4." Yep. "But that's not fair." Well, the score is only 2-1 and more players won't change that. Plus the way I have it set up all our kids will play the same amount. "OK. But it doesn't seem right to me."

    A few minutes later, parent #2 comes over. "The other team has 5 players on the field." Yep. Their coach wanted to play with 5 because they have more kids than us. "But that's not fair." Well I thought it was more important that all kids play the same amount rather than having to try to figure out how to divide 40 minutes by 9 players and then try to keep track of it all. And I didn't think the score mattered. "Ummm." <walks away>

    Parent #2 did come over after to say "thanks for coaching."

    This past weekend, we had 2 games, one on Saturday, one on Sunday. In the Saturday game, we "won" 5-0. My kid scored 5 goals. But I spent the entire post-game praising the kid who made the pass (maybe the only intentional pass of the game by either side) to set up a goal and the kid who has just brilliant sweeper-type defensive skills and who stopped at least 3 goals all by himself. Our regular coach joked that he was going to move my son up to the U10 division.
     
  3. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    Youth tee ball should be 5 on 5, period. No pitcher spot (the pitcher basically fields 90% of the hits) and no catcher who just stands there in the stupid equipment and never moves or touches the ball. It's absurd that youth basketball and soccer have figured this out and not baseball.
     
  4. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    Also, pro tip: anytime there are just about as many coaches on the playing surface as there are kids, you're doing it wrong.
     
  5. Brohamer of the Gods

    Brohamer of the Gods Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I now have one in coach pitch, and it is still everyone hits every inning and occasionally the tee gets brought out after a dozen pitches.

    We are still all in the infield, but he assigns certain kids to play each base like a first baseman whose main job is to cover the bag to take throws for the forceout. Before each batter the kids call out where a forceout is in play and where they should throw the ball. It is mostly 6-7 year olds, so making a throw to first isn't an option half the time.

    Interestingly, on their own the kids on the team have begun to keep score by how many outs they make on defense, since we still don't keep an official score. It is also keeping the kids more engaged in the field since they are tracking where the runners are, the fielders at the bases have a job, and there is something going on beyond three kids bonking heads chasing the same ball followed by the inevitably hopeless throw to 1B. Last game they generated 7 outs in 3 innings, and they were all quite pleased. Playing defense is now part of the game for them, rather than something to be endured while you wait to hit.
     
  6. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    I think the problem is that's way too many kids on the bench. And if you make the teams smaller, field time for games and practices will become an issue (it would in my town anyway).
     
  7. RIFan

    RIFan Member SoSH Member

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    Hopefully, you're already doing this, but the coach should pitch from one knee in front of the mound and not from a normal throwing position. I've seen too many coaches when they 1st introduce pitching to throw normally from the top of the mound. It's like Randy Johnson pitching to Freddie Patek, not exactly conducive to them learning how to hit.
     
  8. Brohamer of the Gods

    Brohamer of the Gods Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Oh yes, although racking up 30 Ks in three innings is quite the boost to a coach's ego.
     
  9. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    Having a 6 year old take 4 or 5 pitches in a row while you are trying to find your control and all the parents are watching is a very lonely feeling.
     
  10. RIFan

    RIFan Member SoSH Member

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    Here's a video on the technique.
     
  11. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    My kid is six so I'm just starting out in the world of little league baseball, but yes I figured this is biggest con to having smaller teams.

    Still, I'm not sure they should be playing formalized games anyway. I like how soccer does 30 minutes of skill work (in small-sided games format) and then 30 minutes of four on four scrimmaging. They have two teams practice on adjoining fields and then they split the squads after the skills session to play four on four. Baseball for six year olds doesn't need real baseball fields. They could just use the plastic bases I have in the back of my car and follow the same format. Too many kids get turned off by baseball because it's incredibly boring at six to sit in the outfield and pick grass.
     
  12. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    As a coach of almost 15 years in youth, HS, and college sports, the key at ages below 9 is to get them to love the sport, period. That means having as much fun as possible.
     
  13. WinRemmerswaal

    WinRemmerswaal Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The t-ball stuff cracks me up. My sons are about 5 years apart so when #2 started on t-ball he had been hanging out at #1's practices for years and played a lot of catch. So he quickly figures out that if he lurks a little in front of the mound he can catch a lot of the balls on the fly. Thankfully he doesn't make a fuss, just comes up to me between innings and asks how come we're still letting the kids go to first if he caught the ball. I came up with some explanation that he bought at the time and made up a rule that he could catch one per inning and that seemed to get us through.
     
  14. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Agreed, most of T-ball (and the first couple years of baseball) is a waste of time because they're trying to do something that closely resembles a regular game of baseball. 5v5 would be great.
     
  15. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Very wise words, I'd even go up to age 11 or so. Nobody is going to be very good if they only play the sport at practice/games, get them to love it and they'll be doing it on their own and getting better - leading to more fun!
     
  16. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Honest question: when did youth sports start so young? When I was a kid back in the 70’s (I’m now 51), I started T-ball as an 8-yo for one year; then right into a league where kids pitched (at 9 and 10). In soccer, we started in 4th grade.

    Now I was an active kid where everyone in my neighborhood played sports every day after school, but when I started baseball, even though we were hitting off a T, we tracked outs, we played positions, and we could throw and catch (not always well, as there were more than a few “4-base error Home runs”).

    As has been noted up thread, and as I’ve seen in my son’s team’s (both baseball and soccer), there’s very little resembling actual smart play, in either sport. So why starts them at 4 and 5 years old???
     
  17. Dummy Hoy

    Dummy Hoy Angry Pissbum SoSH Member

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    I did TBall last year, station to station, games would go about 40 minutes before hell broke loose...borrowed some rubber "dots" from a gym teacher to tell the kids where to stand (answer- spread out), and had one kid be the 'fielder' and rotated each AB. That way only one kid would have to get the ball and everyone would have a turn. When the 1-2 kids on the other team who could actually hit came to bat, I moved the fielder back. It was effective enough, but most of my time was spent trying to keep these 2 kids from punching each other in the dick.
     
  18. drleather2001

    drleather2001 given himself a skunk spot SoSH Member

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    And, conversely, for those that already play it a lot on their own/with siblings/with friends in the 'hood, it's the first experience they have of being on an actual team. Learning that show-off heroics and being a ball-hog might wash when it's in the backyard, but when you're with a team it's important to let others get practice and improve, too. And be happy when others sometimes do things that they didn't.

    False modesty aside, my two kids are the best on the t-ball team (as much as such a thing is possible) and while one is very good at moving around without complaint to give others a turn, the other has a hard time dealing with the fact that even though he can field and throw better than everyone else, he still has to take some time over by 3rd base to spread the wealth. He also pouts when he doesn't hit the ball into the outfield, and that's gotta stop, and I often take him aside at first base and give him a little talking-to.

    And that's fine. Gotta learn it sometime, might as well be at 6 (or maybe 7, the way things are going) and not 11. Learning to be a teammate is important.

    But there are still issues. Like, my kids are super-enthusiastic, and I can tell that rubs some parents of the less-engaged kids the wrong way. They run the fastest to get in line to hit, that type of thing. They are 6. And even though everyone gets a turn at bat, and even though I am literally out there making sure the play distribution is as fair as I can reasonably make it, my wife has heard other moms grumble stuff like "Those [my] kids are a couple of ringers. / They need to understand they can't always be the best!".

    Look, I'm sorry my kids are excited and have, in fact, spent a lot of time already playing ball and yours hasn't. If you want to get up off your ass and help wrangle 12 5-6 year olds like I'm doing, or have some constructive ideas to tell me or the other coach, be my guest. But don't talk shit about a couple of 6 year olds who just want to play.
     
    #118 drleather2001, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  19. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    It gets worse, Leather. So sorry to say, it gets worse.
     
  20. LeftyTG

    LeftyTG Member SoSH Member

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    I coached for three seasons in tee ball and then a season of coach pitch. I finally quit. I am firmly in the camp that kids that are 6, 7, 8 years old need to just have fun and learn the game along the way. I had about 4 semi competent players on my coach pitch team, and the rest were such that a random foul ball was cause for celebration. Still, I rotated all my players among all positions in the field and in the batting order (1B was the only place I was cautious, for safety reasons I didn't want an outclassed kid eating one). We would play teams that were run by drill sergeant types, where kids ran laps for letting grounders go through their legs and were assigned fixed positions. These teams crushed us. Half my parents were on board and understood the bigger picture and half thought I was a fool who was keeping the team from winning. My wife had to hear all the complaining and trash talking in the stands. This year my 7 and 8 year old sons didn't want to play, and I have to say as much as I hate to admit it, a part of me was relieved.
     
  21. BigJimEd

    BigJimEd Member SoSH Member

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    I was thinking about this post this weekend. A couple fields over from my son's game, there is a tee ball "game" going on. Walking by heading to the concessions and sure enough they have a 6'5 guy standing up and coming all the way over the top. The ball was basically coming straight down on the kids.
    When he was still doing it on my way back, I had to say something to a group of parents.

    Agreed it is all about having fun at younger ages. As a coach if the kids had fun and don't want the season to end then you've had a successful season.
     
  22. Omar's Wacky Neighbor

    Omar's Wacky Neighbor Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Figuring that out at that age, you're both ahead of the game. It hit my son (a great all around athlete) in the last game of the 4th grade season, and he hasn't looked back once (finishing his jr year of HS now).

    Maybe give lax a shot?
     
  23. MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

    MyDaughterLovesTomGordon Member SoSH Member

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    I ran the T-ball league in our town for five years. I can't tell you how many tough guy dads were like, "my kid's already hitting lasers in the backyard, so I'll just pitch to him when he gets up."

    Yeah, no.

    Plenty of dads still think the tee is for losers. It's pathetic.
     
  24. AlNipper49

    AlNipper49 Huge Member Dope

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    The Joe Maddon of sandlot baseball

    #youmonster
     
  25. santadevil

    santadevil Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    It's still a bit of a chore each year to get the older kids to use them to work on swing mechanics at first.

    Eventually they come around
     
  26. RIFan

    RIFan Member SoSH Member

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    Tangently related to this thread is Kevin Youkilis' twitter feed. He's been openly critical of youth sports and baseball in particular. It's amazing the number of people that respond to a former major leaguer that he doesn't know what he's talking about.
     
  27. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    YOUK is absolutely correct.
     
  28. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    BTW, if you're a parent of a young kid (under-8) who loves to play and you want your kid to be athletic and coordinated and maybe good at a sport someday, the absolute best thing you can do besides making all games/sports fun is to have your kid play a ton of tag and takes some gymnastics and/or martial arts classes.
     
  29. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    To follow up because I've been asked about this a bunch... what I did with my son, who is now almost 6.5 is I enrolled him in three different classes until the age of six. He did swim, gymnastics (one of only two boys!), and martial arts. Among these three activities, he got exposure to all the various movements and use of different limbs and gained the understanding of body control and angles that he would ever use in any sport he decides to play in the future.

    The rest of his "free time" was playing on his own with either neighborhood kids, classmates, or with his mom and me. And, after going through his inaugural tee ball season this spring, he won't be playing again for a few years.

    EDIT: Dodge Ball is also another great game for young kids that transfers really well to just about any sport.
     
    #129 riboflav, Jun 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
  30. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Why will he not be playing? Did I miss something? Did you or he have a bad experience?
     
  31. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    Not a terrible experience. I just don't like how Little League handles its younger players/teams. As I wrote above, it should be 5 on 5... He gets far more out of playing pick-up baseball or with me than he does in 10 on 10 little league. I don't want his frustration at not getting any action in Little League to lead to indifference to baseball.

    EDIT: We had four players on his team who's older brothers had all quit baseball by age 8 or 9... because they were bored to tears as their moms relayed to me.
     
  32. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I guess it makes sense. Regarding your 5 on 5 idea, where would the players be positioned on defense?
     
  33. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Sorry to hear that but I know exactly how you feel. I'm on son #3 (10 years old) and I play catch with him in the yard, throw him pop ups etc, but I have no desire to coach or help out with a team. Baseball is the worst. It brings out the worst in coaches, maybe because the coaches have so much control. And so many guys think they can coach with zero effort put into learning how to teach kids individual skills. If I see another LL coach have 10 year olds practice the 4-6-3 double play, I may scream.

    My 13 year old probably is done with baseball and he was maybe the best in his age group (tough to do with AAU hoops) and while I'll miss watching him pitch especially, part of me is very relieved. More than any other sport, baseball coaches seem to coach for the wrong reasons.
     
  34. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    ABSOLUTELY! Swimming too and not necessarily competition, just get in a lake or pool and move around a lot.
     
  35. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    5v5 baseball would be so awesome. Everybody hits 5 times, everyone plays all over the field. Much more efficient and effective use of time.

    But parents want to watch kids play a "real" game. My wife (who was a D1 hoops player) convinced the youth hoops program in town to have the younger kids play 3v3 halfcourt, more touches for everyone, more opportunities, faster paced, more kids (2 games 3v3 vs 1 game 5v5) on a court etc. Parents didn't like it, not as fun to watch, they should play full court is what many people said. Ugghhh!
     
  36. tonyandpals

    tonyandpals Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    My 8yo is playing in-town summer ball, which is 8-10yos mixed. It's more casual, but it's the first time they keep score, so he's into that. But man, the games are tough to sit through. Very few balls in play. He generally enjoyed being out there this past season for the first year of kid pitch, as coaches could step in after 4-5 pitches and pitch to some contact. But this walk after walk after walk and occasional K and the rare ball in play is painful. We try and get there early to get some actual work in otherwise he's getting very little out of it. Like others have mentioned some times it's better to just work on things at home on your own. But I also like to get him out of the house, be part of a team and see some other kids. That's worth something. The baseball piece is tough...
     
  37. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

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    Teeball, ugh I hated that mess. 2 years ago they local teeball team fielded 15 kids. On one team! I was irate but could do little since nobody else wanted to step up. Last year we had 18 kids sign up in our town and the coach didn't want to split them. And so began my head coaching career! The coach actually got pissed that I wanted to split them. Seriously. I had to go to the head guy for our town and straight up tell them I was taking a team and to give me whatever kids. My only request was to have two of the dad's kids on roster to help be coach. They have been my best friends since grade school and they weren't helping him. They just stepped up to help me get this team split. The other head coach created drama because I was "taking" one of the good kids with having those dads help me. He even went so far as to text and email other parents saying stuff about me and it was my idea to split teams. Needless to say everyone wanted to split and he looked like a fool.
     
  38. tonyandpals

    tonyandpals Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Oh FFS. September call ups are around the corner. He should be fine.
     
  39. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

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    You ever see many 5 year olds switch hit in tee ball?
     
  40. Omar's Wacky Neighbor

    Omar's Wacky Neighbor Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Yeah, when they can't remember how to hold a bat.
     
  41. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

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    What about teaching them to field a ball with the glove at the glove side foot with throwing side foot in front.
     
  42. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The absolute worst outcome from youth sports is kids walking away from an activity that is, at its core, supposed to be fun as a result of bad adult behavior. As such, I feel for some of you in this thread.

    Instead of sharing some horror stories from my dozen years coaching farm up through U19 travel baseball - though I am happy to do that - I will relate what I have learned.

    1. As many others have stated - the main goal is for kids to have fun and learn to love the sport. Objective 1A is for the kids to improve their skills.

    2. Regarding winning, being competitive is very important and misunderstood. Most kids tend to be naturally competitive so even when we weren't keeping score, such as at farm or in scrimmages, the kids were.

    In my experience, being competitive (not winning per se but being in games), even if you don't win, is inextricably intertwined with the kids having a good time. Programs that emphasize skills development and ignore being competitive tend to turn the kids off. Teams that aren't up to competing will often be beaten in a demoralizing fashion - even if you aren't about winning in youth sports, its the main goal of the vast majority of your competition. Love of a sport cannot blossom if you are a proverbial doormat.

    As a side note, even though kids value the ability to compete, they tend to forget tough losses or even amazing wins much faster than parents and coaches. I marvel at that - its pretty remarkable.

    3. The best youth baseball coaches I've seen balance all the above while allowing their players to fail. They will never chastise a kid for striking out or making an error, especially a physical one. They also reward/incentivize hustle and a good attitude. At the high school level, it makes all the difference for a kid if they don't feel like one bad AB will bury them for the balance of the season. Also, good coaches don't really "coach" in games as the message is more often than not lost.

    4. As others have noted upthread, in LL I will only draft kids that receive high attitude marks from their previous coaches. If the choice is between a toolsy kid with a poor attitude or a middling one with a great attitude, the latter gets my pick every time. One of the biggest fallacies of coaching is that you can "coach up" athletes. There is never enough time to do everything you want to do and if you have to work with a kid/family that is a problem that creates an even bigger time suck. More importantly, all the kids tend to have a good time when everyone is pulling in the same direction whereas one bad apple can ruin an entire team.

    5. Parents are, on balance, very unrealistic about evaluating their kids skills. Any league or program that wants to focus on the kids does all it can to minimize parental involvement in how teams are run, line-ups are made etc. For-profit travel teams are a nightmare because they can and do fall victim to pay-to-play situations where mom/dad writes extra checks to get their kid more reps at a position. Obviously, parent-coaches are a problem in this regard, more so in rec leagues where families are stuck with these people.

    6. Lastly, in most little leagues where they have playoffs, every team makes it to the post-season. This means that there is no excuse not to give kids multiple chances to pitch or play whatever position they want to try provided there are no safety or health issues. We will even check back with kids who have stated they don't want to pitch to, at least, get them an inning or two. If coaches don't do this, especially early in the season, they are failing at their main job which is point number one above.

    Sorry for the TL/DR but I care about making sure kids love baseball & sports so they continue to play until the sport tells them they can no longer continue. And even then, hopefully they pass on their love of the game to the next generation.
     
    #142 DeJesus Built My Hotrod, Aug 20, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  43. santadevil

    santadevil Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    This is a great post.

    I'm six years in for coaching travel ball and I'd like to think I learn from my mistakes and tweak things from year to year.

    The things you've mentioned above are all things I did this year. The attitude of the player is the one thatst taken the longest to figure out, because those are the kids that make me pull my hair out during the season

    Next year may be fun for me, depending on how many kids come for tryouts
     
  44. Omar's Wacky Neighbor

    Omar's Wacky Neighbor Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I've got some saved emailllllls.....

    (I used to be the hatchet man for our indoor soccer travel program)
     
  45. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    I'd add that parents are unrealistic about what their money should buy in a youth sports program. If you're paying $500 for basketball for a uniform, 20 practices and 20 games and you expect professional coaching, you don't really understand much about what costs what.
     
  46. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Completely agreed.

    The other problem with coaching is that - and my experience is with youth travel baseball but I wouldn't be surprised if this were true in other sports - the range of coaching ability is huge. And its multidimensional too.

    Some coaches are good with technical stuff but bad as game managers and/or the interpersonal stuff. Others are great tacticians but lack the ability to refine players abilities. And others may or may not have any other skills aside from being great promoters/business people. The main problem is that few coaches tick all the right boxes and parents/kids often suffer as a result.
     
    #146 DeJesus Built My Hotrod, Sep 7, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  47. Omar's Wacky Neighbor

    Omar's Wacky Neighbor Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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  48. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Wow, threatening to try to hurt an 11 year old? That was dumb. He leaves your team and you want to hurt him? Yikes! Good for the school and youth football for firing him and making sure he's not involved anymore.
     
  49. Omar's Wacky Neighbor

    Omar's Wacky Neighbor Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Not a Worst Coach story, but a HUH? Coach story:

    my 17 y/o USSF Grade 8 son was CR at a 3/4 grade boys rec game. Very low skill and knowledge levels on both teams. While the field is a bit large (we moved the game to this dry field from a very wet field), it's still within the range of a small sided field (Local Rules of Competition, and all that). We use it primarily for small sided 5/6 grade games.

    Coaches from both teams met before the game started, and agreed to shorten the field by pulling up the ground stakes on both goals, moving goals up to their respective 12, and restaking the goals on the 12. Corner flags were moved up accordingly, and my son marked off a penalty area with cones.

    My son agreed to it just to keep the peace and let the kids play (provided the goals were anchored, which they were). As he put it: "if they both agreed to it, what chance did I have reasoning with them."

    I've heard of moving the touchlines in to make the field narrower, but had never seen moving the goals in to make a small sided field even smaller.

    Oh, one team had 3 subs, the other team had 6 subs, so they could have easily each placed an additional player on the field with little down side.
     
    #149 Omar's Wacky Neighbor, Sep 17, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018 at 10:04 AM
  50. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    They'd rather play with CONES on the field than on a slightly larger field (and maybe add a player)? Seems like it could have been a good opportunity for the 3/4 players to see what a 5/6 field is like. On the other hand, I'm impressed Rec coaches put that much thought into it :) (even if the result was a head scratcher)
     

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