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Token playing time for weaker players in youth ball

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  • #16
    From Coach

    Originally posted by digglahhh
    Regarding giving playing time... It is unfair to the entirety of the team to not give yourself the best chance to win.


    I believe we are on the same page. Study after study has shown that a vast majority of those who play sports up to the high school level would much rather play and lose than not play and win. At the Little League level I believe the number exceeds 90%.

    Any one who puts on a uniform, picks up a glove doesn't do so to lose, regardless of their talent level. The problem is how do you balance the need to win and the need to participate. The chart I offered above suggests that the ratio varies depending upon the athletes age and the type of league in which you participate.
    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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    • #17
      again that chart is fine for rec ball.the chart means didley when you are dealing with parents and kids that want to compete and win.when game time comes its time to win,you can instruct and show during practice and practice games.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by wogdoggy
        again that chart is fine for rec ball.the chart means didley when you are dealing with parents and kids that want to compete and win.when game time comes its time to win,you can instruct and show during practice and practice games.
        Again its age and league type dependent. Regardless of the situation there will always be parents that want to win at all costs. That's the poinbt of the chart. Ther are situations where that is not appropriate, no matter how bad you want to win.
        "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
        - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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        • #19
          Digg, excellent points all. To be sure, a weaker kid doesn't want to be known as a charity case, but I think if as a coach you let the kids know ahead of time about what the rules are as far as allocating playing time, they'll understand why weaker kids get in. Of course, it depends on age level and skill disparities as well.

          I like your point about scouting the opposition and finding opportunities to play "developing" kids at appropriate points, say, by giving a slower pitcher an opportunity to pitch against the bottom of the other team's order. One of my favorite coaches (in a 9-10 year old league) would put a weaker fielder in at third base in an inning when our fastest pitcher was pitching to righthanders. Batters rarely got around on him well enough to pull, and I don't think it cost us a run all year. The kids' fielding percentage there was maybe 50 percent on the few occasions that the ball came over there, but it still took more hits to bring 'em around. And the boys' were excited and got to warm up with the rest of the infielders. Well worth the risk, IMHO.

          Wogdoggy said, "again that chart is fine for rec ball.the chart means didley when you are dealing with parents and kids that want to compete and win.when game time comes its time to win,you can instruct and show during practice and practice games."
          True, in travel ball the kids -- even the 11 year olds -- probably move up to level 2 on the chart. That's a different animal. Still, all the parents in that milieu are expecting big things for their kids, and will really resent the investment if their kid isn't playing at all. And, you can only learn so much in practices. In fact, in some ways, the goal of travel ball is less about winning than it is about development and exposure of the individual players; I'll bet more travel ball parents know their kids' batting average than do those in "rec ball".

          I think you need to have the guts to say to the "win only" parents (who I'll bet are not the ones whose kids aren't playing much)
          -- (a) every kid and every parent on this team has an investment in it and an equal right for their kid to develop, and
          -- (b) a team that has a bunch of kids glued to the bench (i) is a candidate for internal chemistry problems that will affect their chances of winning, (ii) because of injuries or schedule conflicts could be hampered when we need these other kids to be ready to step in, and (iii) risks the safety of the "every inning" kids, including your superstar, who instead should sit and rest every once in awhile. (It's amazing how coaches are sometimes more concerned about a kid's safety than the kid's own Dad.)

          And, I will buy you a copy of Jake Patterson's book at such time as you have the courage to present any parent with a reason (c): "Because I think that part of my responsibility is to develop these players as people and their ability to work together as a team and to accept life's inevitable losses is more important to that development than your desire to have another trophy to put on the mantle."

          And, for any kind of team, you have to be wary of confusing the noise generated by the most vociferous parents with the views of all the parents. I (and presumably other parents of equally young and weaker players) didn't complain to our coach about our sons' lack of playing time last season in large part because we didn't want to seem to be stereotypic whiners. That didn't mean we were happy, 'cuz we weren't.

          Jake, thanks for your offer about the book. I'll email you separately about it to both the address above and your hotmail account.

          Ursa
          sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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          • #20
            Have there been any studies on the effect that the "win-at-all-cost" philosphy has on a child's psychological development?

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            • #21
              Originally posted by pgibbons
              Have there been any studies on the effect that the "win-at-all-cost" philosphy has on a child's psychological development?
              Pete, there have been many studies performed with none supporting that a "win at all cost mentality" is good for anyone. The damage a "win at all costs" mentality has on a child can be closely compared to that of a child developing with over bearing and psychologically abusive parents.:grouchy

              Fred Engh, President of the National Alliance of Youth Sports says, "Winning at all costs is probably the ugliest thing we can teach children, yet we have many, many people - parents and coaches - who do that today."

              An article I found on the Net that further explains this is:

              Good Sports: Raising a Young Athlete
              By Sheila King, Exercise Physiologist at UCLA - Program Director of the American College of Sports Medicine

              We've seen them on TV and the local playing fields: overbearing parents so over-involved in their children's sports that they undermine growth and performance. Consider the plight of 17-year-old Australian tennis sensation Jelena Dokic. Not only did officials eject her father from a Wimbledon warm-up tournament for shouting at officials, but he was also arrested "for his own safety" after he laid down in traffic and jumped on the hood of a car.

              Want to hear an even sadder story? Gymnast Dominique Moceanu became an Olympic gold medallist at the ripe old age of 14, while ignoring a painful four-inch stress fracture in her left leg. "Who is looking out for this child?" ESPN sportswriter Mark Kreidler wondered at the time. At 17, Moceanu asked a judge to declare her a legal adult so that she could free herself from her parents (former gymnasts who had nursed gold-medal dreams for Dominique since her birth). After a very public battle, she won the right to choose her own coaches, control her own money and lead her own life.

              Let's not kid ourselves, parental interference isn't just found at the level of the professional athlete. In recent years, police had to break up a fistfight between coaches and parents at a Little League game for 10-year-olds; one father was accused of beating another parent to death after a dispute at their sons' hockey practice. Such violence is "epidemic" and is turning off many young athletes, says Fred Engh, president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports and author of Why Johnny Hates Sports. In fact, approximately 73 percent of children who compete in organized sports quit by age 13. Many drop out because they say the pressure from coaches and parents simply takes all the fun out of playing and competing.

              So how can we keep our kids motivated and help them achieve their sports goals without burning them out? We need to shift the emphasis from competition and winning to fun and play, whether we've got a budding Mia Hamm or Michael Jordan on our hands or a kid who's happy playing intramural ball. We need to let our children take the lead in defining their sports commitments. Our job as parents is to help set healthy limits and reasonable expectations. While there are no recipes for creating star athletes, we can nurture elite talent and promote healthy exercise habits in young people.

              a.. Parents, take a chill pill. Lose the attitude of winning at all costs. Many children do not enjoy organized sports because coaches and parents put too much pressure on winning. Moms and dads with Olympic dreams must not lose sight of the long-term reality. Fewer than 1 percent of the children participating in organized sports today will qualify for any type of athletic scholarship in college and an even smaller number of those will go on to professional sports or the Olympics, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Coaches and parents who instill a life-long love of fitness and sports are the real winners.

              b.. Choose the right coach. Providing good coaching can help children develop the skills and abilities they need to excel and succeed in sports. The best coaches are positive and offer lots of encouragement, emphasizing both skill development and good sportsmanship. They are organized and set limits for both players and parents. They do not chastise or punish players for making mistakes. Instead, they praise the effort and emphasize fun, not winning at all costs. Most youth league coaches are volunteers and have not had professional training but that doesn't mean you have to put up with a verbally abusive coach or one who arrives late and doesn't organize practices. If you end up with one, try to move your child to another team as soon as possible. If you can't get a transfer, discuss your concerns with the coach in a private, non-threatening conversation.

              c.. Stress success. Be sure your children are playing at the appropriate level for age and skill development. Nothing can be more discouraging to children than playing over their heads. Confidence is key — especially for girls, who more often express lower perceptions of physical competence than boys. Emphasize effort over result. By the same token, nothing can be more frustrating than playing below your potential. If your children are highly skilled, make sure they're challenged on the field or on the court. If they're playing above their peer level, find groups that meet their needs. Like the child who's always the last one picked when teams are being chosen, a child with the potential to be an elite athlete deserves special attention and consideration. There are plenty of resources out there; it's up to you to take full advantage of them.

              d.. Avoid instant replays. Don't rehash every detail of the game with your child. Over-analyzing play can take the fun out of it. And focusing only on mistakes can backfire: Some kids will do anything to avoid making another mistake, including not doing anything at all. Children need to develop their instincts and learn to trust them. They don't need to dwell on every misstep. Let the coach provide feedback during practice when children can readily make changes.

              e.. Introduce competition at the optimal time. Some children are ready for competition at an early age. But from a developmental standpoint, competition is best introduced in adolescence when children are more comfortable testing themselves against others. Most pre-adolescents do not enjoy the competitive nature of sports. The emphasis in this age group should be on fun, movement variety, social and skill development.

              f.. Whose sport is it anyway? Children have to have the desire within themselves to compete and excel at sports. Parents cannot force children to succeed as athletes. The best approach is to expose kids to a variety of sports. Then let them choose the sport. Examine your personal motives for wanting your child to compete. If you are trying to live vicariously through your child, reassess what your child wants and needs and put those desires ahead of your own.

              g.. Be a good sport on the sidelines. Remove all obscenities from your vocabulary. Never let your child hear you criticizing the coach or other players. Let your child know it's not the end of the world if they lose an important game. It could be their most important lesson. Parents who shout obscenities and criticisms embarrass children and squelch their desires. Keep the sideline comments positive and encouraging. Refrain from blaming umpires and referees for "bad" calls. Teach your children that such judgments are part of the game and must be overcome. Realize that most of the referees and umpires are volunteers who provide a service for your children.

              h.. Keep sports in perspective. Help children learn to balance sports in their lives. Richard Williams, father and coach of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, says that he stresses school, religion and then tennis. Keeping children well rounded will provide them with the confidence and skills to respond to the ups and downs in life.

              Parents do have an important role to play in helping support and encourage star athletes. Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters and Cal Ripken Jr. are all examples of athletes whose parents helped them develop a love of their sport and maintained healthy relationships. While your kids may never become pro athletes or Olympic stars, you can guide them to a lifelong enjoyment of sports and physical activity. Then no matter what the score of their games, they'll be winners!

              I will investigate to see if there are any prospective studies available.

              Go to the Net and plug in "Winning at all Costs, children" I got 6,000,000 hits.
              It's a big issue to everyone except those that do not undertsand that they are the problem.
              Last edited by Jake Patterson; 01-03-2006, 05:43 PM.
              "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
              - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
              Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

              Comment


              • #22
                Its not win at all costs its win when the game is being played.What do you guys expect a coach to teach during game time? Do you shout out instructions during their piano recital.Is "INSTRUCTING " lil johnny to keep his elbow up while the pitchers throwing teaching him anything? You want to teach the kids something? then SHUT UP once during game time .let them throw the ball where they think it should be thrown.Let them play the game and learn by their mistakes.Yeah win at all costs means in travel to put the players where they desreve to be when they deserve to be there.There is no favortism.The best kids play where they DESERVE to play.IS that win at all costs.What you teach a kid yelling out instructions in a game is more detrimental than good.Thats what practice is for.and if you dont have enough practice maybe you should play less games and practice more.

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                • #23
                  Jake, thanks for that article and the search tip. I'm going to read more on the topic.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by wogdoggy
                    Its not win at all costs its win when the game is being played.What do you guys expect a coach to teach during game time?
                    Hey Wog,
                    Not sure who this is directed to... but here's some other thoughts...
                    I also advicate, "Practice belongs to the coach and the games to the players." I agree during the game is not the best place to teach sports based skills, but there are many other lessons to be learned. Like I said earlier, no one puts on a uniform or glove to lose. The "desire" and intent to win goes without saying.
                    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      jake we are on the same page here.I like to let the kids play their game.

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                      • #26
                        Jake--in your last post you said "...practice belongs to the coaches, but the game belongs to the players." I think that should be engraved in big, bold letters inside every little league dugout in America. We see way, way too many coaches (and parents) who micromanage every aspect of the game, and does that help the team win? No. The game becomes a burden to the players. Now, sometimes in the course of a game, a little reminder may be needed, but while the kid is up to bat is not the time to do it. There is plenty of time between innings to tell a player what he needs to correct, and it can be done in such a way that nobody else hears. And sometimes parents are just as guilty as the coaches. We had a player last season (I coach 9 and 10-year-olds) whose dad could be overbearing. During one game he struck out with the tying run on second. As he was walking back to the dugout, his dad roared "Doggone it, son, HIT THE BALL!" The kid turned toward the bleachers and through tears said "I'm trying, Dad!" It broke my heart for him and really drove home for me what some of the kids are going through. It's a sad, sad thing when a kid can't have fun playing baseball.

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                        • #27
                          The game belongs to the players ... not us Dads??

                          "...practice belongs to the coaches, but the game belongs to the players."
                          Excellent phrase... and as noted, kids will start looking over their shoulders if they think the coaches or parents will jump on them after every miscue. I think if you explain to kids why they make certain decisions, it will come a bit more naturally to them. Also, I like the idea of having the shortstop and centerfielders being "mini-coaches" assigned to do what coaches usually do -- call out game situations and what to look for before the pitch. (E.g., "man at first -- look for the force!")

                          I was torn when my son was an 9-year old and deathly afraid of hitting. His fear wasn't so much about getting hit by the ball, but he just sorta froze up and usually only swung with two strikes, and only hit one ball fair all season. I could tell with 100% accuracy when he stepped up to the plate and had his hands down by his waist that he was not going to swing regardless of where the pitch was. I would occasionally bark out something to fire him up -- "go attack this one", or something -- but it didn't help much, if at all. We would do everything we could during practice to build up his confidence, but up to the plate he would go and.... freeze. As with a lot of things, it just took time and good fortune. Early in his next season, the other team ran out of pitchers and put a tiny kid up who just lobbed the ball up. My son had time to go through his mental checklist of excuses for not swinging and, when it floated in front of him, he swung and hit a shot that handcuffed the third baseman. After that, he was alright against almost all pitching. Still, while he was in that phase, it was frustrating to see him walk up and know his only chance of getting on base was drawing a walk. It's tantalizing for a parent in a situation because there's the thought that it's not instruction that you're giving, but just a bit of fire. In hindsight, I realize that it was all futile to try to push him at the plate. At least it's better than the aging assistant coach the team had, who would stand at the edge of the dugout and bark after at least half of the team's swing-throughs, "To hit the ball you've gotta see the ball!" (What did that mean?)

                          My one other, perhaps better excuse for coaching from the sidelines was last season. I've described in my original post in this thread my son's strike from right field to nail a runner at the plate to prevent the other team from extending its lead to 7-1, and our team eventually came back and won. At the time, I was coincidentally standing down the right field line chatting with another parent when the single came out to my son. Under normal circumstances, my son would have just flipped the ball to the second baseman, and the run would have scored. But, I knew two things (and yes, this all did go through my mind in a flash). First, the runner on second (his old teammate) wasn't too fast, and second, his old coach was the third base coach and would test my son's arm, which hadn't been all that strong the previous year. So, I just screeched, "Throw it home!" -- overriding the second baseman who had no clue where the play was -- and out of instinct or fear my son made the best throw of his life. Game and season saved. (Later, my son admitted he would not have thrown home if I hadn't yelled to him.)

                          So, now that Coach Jake has lost all respect for me.... Ah, I've gotta redeem myself by finding a life lesson in all this. I think part of what we should have taught the outfielders in the first instance is to go ahead and try to make the play if there's a reasonable chance. At worst, the pitcher can cut the ball off and try to nail the hitter if he tries to take second on the throw. Where coaches tell kids to always just throw to the cutoff man, they eliminate the fun aspect of outfield play, which is usually a dreary place in most youth leagues.
                          sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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                          • #28
                            "Doggone it, son, HIT THE BALL!"

                            During one game he struck out with the tying run on second. As he was walking back to the dugout, his dad roared "Doggone it, son, HIT THE BALL!" The kid turned toward the bleachers and through tears said "I'm trying, Dad!" It broke my heart for him and really drove home for me what some of the kids are going through.
                            This hits a question discussed recently about the responsibility coaches have to control the behavior of parents. Obviously, you can't control what the parents do to the kids at home, but that kind of outburst does affect both their performance in the game and the team's whole disposition.

                            I think the coaches are entitled to take that kind of Dad aside privately and say that such outbursts are not acceptable. Maybe one solution would be to suggest that the Dad leave his seat and watch his kid bat while standing on the sideline. If the kid does well, he can lead the cheering; if not and the Dad can't control his frustration enough to give the kid reassurance, he should just turn and take a couple of steps down the foul line until he gets it under control.

                            I see the need to control parents in the way they deal with umpiring. Our league uses older players as umps, and has really started to make the point that, "Look, parents, you save money on league fees because we use kids as umpires, so part of your deal is that you can't yell at them when they give you less than professional results. If you can't live with that, go find another league." One team in our league last year had a cadre of four dads who sat in the stands and chortled derisively whenever the home plate umpire made a close call against their team, as though to say, "What was this kid smoking before coming to the game?" Their coaches never said a thing about it to the parents, even though the league has always had a rule that coaches and parents are forbidden from arguing ball-strike calls. That's very wearing on a kid umpire (and I know, as I once was one myself).

                            All this does get back, albeit obliquely, to the tokenism issue -- at least to the "win at all costs" attitude at some levels. There's a lesson there -- if the game's so close that an umpire's call changes the game -- then the outcome really isn't that crucial in determining who's better, because if it wasn't the bad call it might have been some other equally random element that decided the game, like a bad patch of dirt that cause a bad hop. So, if you play hard and play the other team close, don't hang your head if the bounce (or the call) goes against you. It certainly doesn't make you any less successful a ballplayer or a kid.

                            But, everything the coaches or parents do to reinforce in the kid that it's the outcome of the at-bat or the game that matters undermines the thrill that a kid feels from simply improving his skills. I've rarely found an at-bat where you can't say to the kid when he comes back, "Good at-bat! You looked good doing [X]; but dang that last pitch was a tough one. You'll get your pitch next time up" (... even if the "[x]" he looked good doing was simply pumping the bat while waiting for the pitcher to start his windup).
                            sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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                            • #29
                              As it turned out, the dad in that game came over to the dugout after the game and apologized to his son, hugged him, and then apologized to the other coaches and myself. He was very contrite and promised that we would not hear any further outbursts from him for the remainder of the season. He lived up to his promise, even to the point of getting up and walking away rather than screaming.

                              This leads me to another question--is it worse to deal with parents who care too much or parents who don't seem to care at all? I'm sure every little league coach feels at times like nothing more than a babysitter. We've had parents (and I'm sure you have too) who drop the kids off at practices or games, pick them up when it's over, and never get out of the minivan. I've gone whole seasons and never even met some parents. Voice mails and e-mails go unanswered, and I wonder if the parents are at all interested in their kids's activities or if they just need little Johnny out of the house for a few hours a week.

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                              • #30
                                You guys have a great discussion going on here and I would like to chime in
                                A lot of it hits home as I have 10U and 7U players/sons. They both get really frustrated with me at the house as we do lots of drills i.e. soft toss, playing catch for points, etc. Sometimes I make them head out just because I can't stand seeing them inside watching cartoons on a nice day and our backyard is set up for several stations. They are both very successful in their respective age groups, last year my oldest was one of the best catchers in his league (and I'm not a very biased person). He would nearly be glowing after games and EVERYONE, even fans/parents from opposing teams would approach him about how good he did. I've tried to explain that's were the practice pays off. I ask if he had fun? Sure he did. Do you think John Doe had fun, striking out 3 times and committing an error every time a ball was hit to him? Probably not. So yes, I want my boys to have fun, but I think that with their (competitive) personalities, they need the not so fun drills off the field to be successful and have fun on the field. With the help of another "internet" coach (Lambin), I have learned to back off and let the boys be boys. I enjoy coaching when can, but my job doesn't allow me the time off to be a head coach, so I generally hook up with coaches and assist. Coach Pattersons saying "...practice belongs to the coaches, but the game belongs to the players." is very good. Game time is not the time to be working on the fundamentals or correcting flaws. In my case, I may notice a player(s) doing something incorrectly at the plate. If it isn't something I can blurt out to turn the lights on, then it will be noted for working on in practice.
                                Sorry for rambling on, this is one of my first posts here on this forum and it looks like there are quite a few here to learn from.

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