Mike Matheny's rules and book

E5 Yaz

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I'm sorry if this is elsewhere on this board, but I read it in Peter King's MMQB this morning and thought it might be of interest here. Mike Matheny has a book out about coaching kids.
 
In 2008, his first year out of baseball, Matheny considered answering the call of some in his Missouri community that wanted him to coach a boys travel baseball team with Matheny’s 10-year-old son on it. One night he typed out a five-page letter with his rules; if he was going to coach the team, the parents would have to sign a paper saying they’d abide by his rules. Those rules weren’t complex, but in the era of helicopter parents they went against the grain.
 
He wrote, “The biggest problem in youth sports is the parents.”
 
He said he would teach the players the game from its very roots, and they would play with sportsmanship and they would hustle and they would never, ever question an umpire. The parents would be quiet in the stands. No, “You can do it, Billy!” Just adds to the pressure the kids feel, Matheny wrote. “You need to be the silent, constant source of support,” he wrote.
 
Every player would pitch; no young arm would be overused. While the players learned the game, the batting order would be meaningless; all players would bat the same number of times. Players would rotate keeping score, because Matheny wanted their heads in the game. Parents, stay away from your kids at all times after you’ve dropped them off for practice or games.
 
Don’t question the coaches, or rather, question them in private but understand there will be no negotiation on playing time or positions played or where kids bat in the order. Let the coaches do their job, and even if you disagree, don’t tell your kids. “Give me the benefit of the doubt that I have [the player’s] best interest in mind, even if you’re convinced I’m wrong,” Matheny wrote.
 
The entire King excerpt on what became a book is here
 
http://mmqb.si.com/2015/06/08/russell-wilson-seattle-seahawks-contract-nfl/2/
 

drleather2001

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On one hand, his advice/rules seem to be objectively wonderful.
 
On the other, it's a lot easier to shoot for the moon when you're a Mike Matheny.
 
 
I'd imagine a 40-year old accountant who hasn't played baseball since high school is going to get a much different response from a group of over-involved parents than a simple "I'm in!" after telling them that he, a first-time coach, expects them to just GTFO and let him do his job with their kids.
 

E5 Yaz

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True, but if guys such as Matheny don't put it out there, those accountants can't start such a movement themselves.
 
It's a net positive to have someone with Matheny's credentials speaking in this way
 

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I found this point a little odd.  I really don't even understand what it means.  How exactly does the "opportunity [to discuss Jesus] present itself" during batting practice?  "Hey Johnny, Jesus wants you to eliminate the hitch in your swing."   But yes, the coaching-related concepts are good.
 
"I also need all of you to know that my priorities in life will most likely be a part of how I coach, and the expectations I have for the boys. My Christian faith is the guide for my life and I have never been one for forcing my faith down someone's throat, but I also believe it to be cowardly, and hypocritical to shy away from what I believe. You as parents need to know for yourselves and for your boys, that when the opportunity presents itself, I will be honest with what I believe. That may make some people uncomfortable, but I did that as a player, and I hope to continue it in any endeavor that I get into."  
 

Heinie Wagner

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I am a Christian and while I wouldn't say that's odd, I would say it is tough to use that part.  I love the "Matheny Manifesto" and use many of the points in it when I speak with parents, I leave out the part about wishing they were all orphans and the part about being a Christian.
 
Maybe in other parts of the country or back when I was a kid you could have used that (we prayed before our HS games) but with the way things are these days, I would not want to be talking to kids about God in a sports environment, you're just asking for trouble.
 
I use several things that I've gotten from religious sources (Joel Osteen's The Power of I am for example) but I don't talk about Christ.
 
If you're teaching kids to believe in themselves and to be better people, to sacrifice for the greater good of the team - a huge part of youth sports coaching - there are tons of great opportunities to bring Christ into the conversation. I'd love to have one of my sons' sports teams over to the house to watch Facing the Giants  because that movie inspires me and I think it would inspire them, but I'd have to be extremely cautious about doing it.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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Heinie Wagner said:
I am a Christian and while I wouldn't say that's odd, I would say it is tough to use that part.  I love the "Matheny Manifesto" and use many of the points in it when I speak with parents, I leave out the part about wishing they were all orphans and the part about being a Christian.
 
Maybe in other parts of the country or back when I was a kid you could have used that (we prayed before our HS games) but with the way things are these days, I would not want to be talking to kids about God in a sports environment, you're just asking for trouble.
 
I use several things that I've gotten from religious sources (Joel Osteen's The Power of I am for example) but I don't talk about Christ.
 
If you're teaching kids to believe in themselves and to be better people, to sacrifice for the greater good of the team - a huge part of youth sports coaching - there are tons of great opportunities to bring Christ into the conversation. I'd love to have one of my sons' sports teams over to the house to watch Facing the Giants  because that movie inspires me and I think it would inspire them, but I'd have to be extremely cautious about doing it.
You wouldn't want yo talk to little kids about God at t-ball practice (or little league, or whatever) because it might bring trouble, or because it is inappropriate?
 

Heinie Wagner

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When I coach a team, I talk about a lot more than the sport, like how to treat your teammates, how to treat your opponents, how to be respectful to officials and to the game, even how to be respectful to parents, teachers etc. These conversations very much lend themselves to talking about Christ because how I treat people is very much related to me being a Christian.
 
Where I live, at this time, it is inappropriate and would bring negative consequences so I'm not sure of the difference.  Can you give me an example of similar inappropriate behavior a youth sports coach could practice around his team that would not have negative consequences?
 
If I coached a team at a Christian school, t-ball up to HS varsity, I'd talk about God and be thrilled to do so. I suspect there are even towns in 2015 in the USA where this is considered appropriate even in town leagues and would not bring negative consequences.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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Heinie Wagner said:
When I coach a team, I talk about a lot more than the sport, like how to treat your teammates, how to treat your opponents, how to be respectful to officials and to the game, even how to be respectful to parents, teachers etc. These conversations very much lend themselves to talking about Christ because how I treat people is very much related to me being a Christian.
 
Where I live, at this time, it is inappropriate and would bring negative consequences so I'm not sure of the difference.  Can you give me an example of similar inappropriate behavior a youth sports coach could practice around his team that would not have negative consequences?
 
If I coached a team at a Christian school, t-ball up to HS varsity, I'd talk about God and be thrilled to do so. I suspect there are even towns in 2015 in the USA where this is considered appropriate even in town leagues and would not bring negative consequences.
To the bolded, I commend you for this and think that any youth sport worth anything would do the same, but why the heck would you go from there to talking about Jesus and how YOU came to find these things?  Being a good person, which are the lessons you are trying to instill upon them, does not require religion.
 
What if you found out your child's coach was talking about how they need to calm themselves at the plate, or at the free throw line and had them do breathing exercises and, in doing so, teaches the kids about the Buddhist religion and how they need to know how to meditate to gain insight and tranquility?
 
Or another coach, doing the same thing that you do, says that when you must treat others with respect, honor and peace, because if you do not, you are not honoring the one true God, who told us this through the one true Prophet, Muhammad.  Would you have a problem with this?
 

Heinie Wagner

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I don't think your examples accurately reflect what I was intending to communicate about how I'd use Christ as a coach if it were.appropriate/without negative consequences.
 
If a coach used Islam or Buddhism to try to instill the same values in my players that I would use Christ to instill I would not have any issues with it.
 

DrewDawg

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Well, he says you can clap after they do well:
 
 I am not saying that you cannot clap for your kids when they do well.
 
 
I think it's the pre-AB, "YOU CAN DO IT BOBBY!!!!" stuff.
 

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Back to the substance, I've heard much the same from certain coaches (as if they were reading this script), but then they don't live up to their end, eg, rotating the kids, teaching nothing but "class," lack of instruction, etc. Thoughts on how to handle that? At what point is it fair and appropriate for a parent to speak up?
 

Heinie Wagner

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BroodsSexton said:
Back to the substance, I've heard much the same from certain coaches (as if they were reading this script), but then they don't live up to their end, eg, rotating the kids, teaching nothing but "class," lack of instruction, etc. Thoughts on how to handle that? At what point is it fair and appropriate for a parent to speak up?
Same here, many times, it's easy to talk the talk, it's much more difficult to walk the walk.  In this day and (information) age, it's easy to know what you're supposed to say, but much tougher to do it. 
 
Knowing when to speak up is really tough. We spoke up when our daughter had a really awful travel soccer coach, we did it the right way, bringing our concerns to the coach first (which he ignored) then to a club board member, who said the club would take action, then it never did. The only real result was that our daughter had no chance at making our town club's A team. Lucky for her, there are other options locally for soccer and she now plays on a premier team. (far superior coaching and play, but also $$$)
 
On the other hand, some parents spoke up in our basketball club about a coach. That coach's behavior was observed, he was given some guidance on how to modify his behavior, which he did, but only when he knew he was being watched. He no longer coaches with our basketball club. Lucky for our basketball club members, the President of the club (me) really cares about this sort of thing.
 
One of the problems with youth sports is so many of these clubs are run by volunteers who may or may not care about this kind of thing (and may only be on the board to help their kid) and who may only be there for a few years. Everyone involved with our daughter's soccer who could have helped (travel director, president, asst travel director) didn't want to put in the effort to do anything and the coach is a well connected board member that they weren't going to discipline so he could really do anything he wants and he's just a bad guy.
 
Every situation is different, if you're in a bad situation, do things the right way, talk to the coach first, talk, don't e-mail about your issues.
If there is an incident that brings the issues to a head, cool off for 24 hours before contacting.  
Don't complain that the coach doesn't see how good your kid is, that is an instant loss of credibility for parents - stick to things like there is a minimum playing time rule and the coach violated it or kids this age should play multiple positions to develop as players and the coach is putting winning over player development (even that may fall on deaf ears)
If the coach doesn't respond to your satisfaction - follow the chain of command - maybe league director or whatever, then escalate to the head of the league or club
 
As I said I'm the President of our local travel basketball club, I hate hearing second hand complaints because if parents handled the issues the right way, they would definitely get addressed. I think it's fair and appropriate for a parent to speak up about anything they disagree with, as long as they do it the right way. I look at it like a business, we're providing a service, parents and players are our customers, we need to keep them happy if we want our club to be successful and grow. Unfortunately not every youth sports organization is like that.
 

Heinie Wagner

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As a funny side note, I really dislike our local soccer club's president and travel director, I feel they are both very dishonest people. The president of soccer just sent out an email that was intended for the board only but went out to the entire club. It had the board meeting agenda on it, along with financial info - like that they have $100K in their money market fund. Schadenfreude
 

Average Reds

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Heinie Wagner said:
When I coach a team, I talk about a lot more than the sport, like how to treat your teammates, how to treat your opponents, how to be respectful to officials and to the game, even how to be respectful to parents, teachers etc. These conversations very much lend themselves to talking about Christ because how I treat people is very much related to me being a Christian.
 
Where I live, at this time, it is inappropriate and would bring negative consequences so I'm not sure of the difference.  Can you give me an example of similar inappropriate behavior a youth sports coach could practice around his team that would not have negative consequences?
 
If I coached a team at a Christian school, t-ball up to HS varsity, I'd talk about God and be thrilled to do so. I suspect there are even towns in 2015 in the USA where this is considered appropriate even in town leagues and would not bring negative consequences.
 
Just finding this thread, so forgive the tardiness of this response.
 
There is nothing wrong with teaching the values you mention to any team.  And there's nothing wrong with the fact that you feel that these teachings are a fundamental part of your Christianity. 
 
However, unless you are coaching at a Christian school (where you have an explicitly religious context) there is a lot wrong with using these teachings as a jumping off point to discuss how these values are inspired by your religion, because of the inherent implication that your religious beliefs are a necessary ingredient for one to learn about how to treat your teammates, your opponents, the refs and to have a general respect for the game.
 
There are a lot of reasons this is wrong, but one of the biggest can be found in the very lesson you are trying to instill:  you are demonstrating a profound lack of respect for the parents of the team members by bringing religion into a discussion that should be about the sport you are coaching.
 

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It's really hard to walk the walk.  I'm getting better.   I like the Matheny approach, also have read and reread "Changing the Game" by John O' Sullivan as has been mentioned before.    Not so much that I'm expecting to raise an elite athlete, but more so I can help my son and all the players I coach have the best experience, the best chance for growth, and good results from their desire to excel at what they do.   One things that's very much in my head now, especially for baseball, is the idea the player's state of mind is an important factor in performance.   Matheny saying don't talk while the kid is at bat is part of that.   The player has enough going on in his head at bat, hearing mom or dad yelling, even if it's encouragement, is only going to clutter the mind more, make it more difficult to succeed.  Cheer all you want after a hit, give encouragment after an out.   Use all your other time with you kid to let him or her know you love and support him, and that your love is not based upon success or failure on the field.  Doesn't have to be in that particular moment of the AB.
 
As coach, I still talk to the players, and for Matheny that's OK, but I try to keep in minimal or stay silent.  Maybe remind a player of a slight batting adjustment we've been working on in practice and pre game.   Otherwise, I've focused on building confidence and getting them in a good state of mind pre game.
 

drleather2001

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If you are coaching a publicly organized/funded team, explicitly using Christ (or any religious figure) as a basis for your rules/coaching is probably a violation of the 1st Amendment.
 
The lessons themselves (sacrifice, teamwork, turning the other cheek, etc...) are fine and indeed applicable to lots of situations, just don't talk about Jesus or the Bible when you do it.  EDIT: like AR says.
 

Heinie Wagner

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Average Reds said:
 
Just finding this thread, so forgive the tardiness of this response.
 
There is nothing wrong with teaching the values you mention to any team.  And there's nothing wrong with the fact that you feel that these teachings are a fundamental part of your Christianity. 
 
However, unless you are coaching at a Christian school (where you have an explicitly religious context) there is a lot wrong with using these teachings as a jumping off point to discuss how these values are inspired by your religion, because of the inherent implication that your religious beliefs are a necessary ingredient for one to learn about how to treat your teammates, your opponents, the refs and to have a general respect for the game.
 
There are a lot of reasons this is wrong, but one of the biggest can be found in the very lesson you are trying to instill:  you are demonstrating a profound lack of respect for the parents of the team members by bringing religion into a discussion that should be about the sport you are coaching.
 
I don't bring my religious beliefs into the discussion.  When I'm entrusted with a group of kids, I feel it's my obligation to teach them about more than just the sport.  I teach players how to dribble, pass, shoot, defend, etc, but I also hope I teach them how to be better people.
 

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Heinie Wagner said:
 
I don't bring my religious beliefs into the discussion.  When I'm entrusted with a group of kids, I feel it's my obligation to teach them about more than just the sport.  I teach players how to dribble, pass, shoot, defend, etc, but I also hope I teach them how to be better people.
 
Your post was pretty clear about the fact that you don't do this and I don't think anyone has an issue with this.  I stated this explicitly.
 
However, I took the general tonality of your post to indicate that you think you should be able to do this because it's a natural extension of who you are. 
 
 
These conversations very much lend themselves to talking about Christ because how I treat people is very much related to me being a Christian.
 
If I misunderstood, then my apologies.  No one should have any problem with a coach trying to teach values that make kids better, more respectful citizens. 
 

Heinie Wagner

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AR - you wrote "you are demonstrating" upon reading it again, I think your intention was "you would be demonstrating", my apologies for reading the words but not really understanding the intent.
 
I think I should be able to do this as it's a natural extension of who I am, and I think I could do it in a manner that 99.99% of parents would fine respectful and would certainly stop if anyone found it objectionable. I don't because I think many people (which is specific to the time/place we live in) are overly sensitive to this.
 
For example, I think every parent/teacher/coach has passed on some version of the "Golden Rule" - do unto others as you would have then do unto you, without any complaint from parents or anyone finding that objectionable in any way. That is Luke 6:31.  
 

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Heinie Wagner said:
AR - you wrote "you are demonstrating" upon reading it again, I think your intention was "you would be demonstrating", my apologies for reading the words but not really understanding the intent.
 
I think I should be able to do this as it's a natural extension of who I am, and I think I could do it in a manner that 99.99% of parents would fine respectful and would certainly stop if anyone found it objectionable. I don't because I think many people (which is specific to the time/place we live in) are overly sensitive to this.
 
For example, I think every parent/teacher/coach has passed on some version of the "Golden Rule" - do unto others as you would have then do unto you, without any complaint from parents or anyone finding that objectionable in any way. That is Luke 6:31.  
Ok, please share with us how you could do this that 99.9 % of parents would find it acceptable and respectful to talk about Jesus and the Bible at t-ball practice. I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I just have no idea how this is possible.
 

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Heinie Wagner said:
AR - you wrote "you are demonstrating" upon reading it again, I think your intention was "you would be demonstrating", my apologies for reading the words but not really understanding the intent.
 
I think I should be able to do this as it's a natural extension of who I am, and I think I could do it in a manner that 99.99% of parents would fine respectful and would certainly stop if anyone found it objectionable. I don't because I think many people (which is specific to the time/place we live in) are overly sensitive to this.
 
For example, I think every parent/teacher/coach has passed on some version of the "Golden Rule" - do unto others as you would have then do unto you, without any complaint from parents or anyone finding that objectionable in any way. That is Luke 6:31.  
 
Yes, I was clumsy with the tense.  Should have been "you would be demonstrating."
 
I do understand that your views are sincere and if you were to discuss your Christianity you would attempt to do so in as respectful a manner as possible.  The problem is that what you see as a natural extension of your Christianity I see as conflation, in the sense that I don't view the values in question as being exclusive to Christianity or even religion, and feel that sports is an inappropriate venue for that discussion in any case. 
 

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It is not inappropriate because you might get negative feedback.
You might get negative feedback because it is inappropriate.
 

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Heinie Wagner said:
I think I should be able to do this as it's a natural extension of who I am, and I think I could do it in a manner that 99.99% of parents would fine respectful and would certainly stop if anyone found it objectionable. I don't because I think many people (which is specific to the time/place we live in) are overly sensitive to this.
 
For example, I think every parent/teacher/coach has passed on some version of the "Golden Rule" - do unto others as you would have then do unto you, without any complaint from parents or anyone finding that objectionable in any way. That is Luke 6:31.  
It's one thing to teach the golden rule as an important principle in how you treat your teammates and why (it makes the team stronger). It's a separate thing entirely to put it in the context of the gospels and use this as a bridge to inviting kids into Christian practice or proselytizing. That's where you cross the line.