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  • being a good assistant coach

    So this year I'm assisting a coach who will be leaving next year, and most likely I'll take over for the next couple years. This is LL majors, players range from 9-12. The league is competitive but also laid back, the focus is mainly on having fun and developing players.

    I like the coach a lot, good heart and decent baseball knowledge. We had our first practice yesterday, and I can see that his approach is much different from mine. A few days earlier I asked if he wanted to chat and come up with a plan for the practice (I always have a detailed "agenda" for every practice when I coach), and he wanted to just "wing it." When we first got started, he was going to have the kids just start playing catch without any preliminary introductions (there are 5 new kids on the team, I gently suggested maybe we should introduce everyone first).

    I would definitely do things differently, but I want to be a good assistant and not always be saying "why don't we do it this way" or challenging his approach. After all, it's his team and my role is to help out.

    But at the same time, I have a lot of ideas about how to make the most of our practice time--for example, my son played on the team last year and says most practices were the old school variety where the coach pitches to a batter while the rest of the team stands around in the field. That to me is not the most productive approach.

    I guess I'm looking for opinions or guidance on how to be a good supportive assistant without constantly biting my tongue the whole season. Should I gently make suggestions (beforehand, not during practice) but then just drop it if the coach doesn't follow up on it? Do I just be a good soldier and wait until next year?

    I once had a couple of assistant coaches who never responded to my emails asking for suggestions or ideas before the season, or responding to the detailed practice plans I would email out the day before practices, but then once on the field they would say things like "why are we doing it this way?" or "why don't we just play a scrimmage"? Needless to say, it was not a lot of fun working with those guys and I vowed I would never do that to a coach.

    Would appreciate hearing your perspectives. My gut is telling me to chill out and just let the coach run the show his way, but I also care a lot and want to make the experience the best possible for the kids.
    Last edited by Megunticook; 04-04-2012, 07:20 AM.

  • #2
    If he's been doing it his way for a while, chances of him changing in his last season may not be high. However, you could approach it a few different ways and see what sticks.

    1) Ask him to explain his reasoning but do it in a way so it looks like you are inquiring to learn from him and not question his decisions. Something like "Hey coach, I'm trying to learn everything I can about structuring practices and coaching baseball, I'm curious why you approach practice this way". "What are your thoughts of have a third group of kids break off and do xxxxx".

    2) Suggest that he let you take a few of the kids that are shagging balls and do some drills with them. In most cases a coach won't turn down an opporunity for players to get more reps as long as it doesn't interfere with what they had/have planned.

    I can see that you respect the coach which is great! But, I feel your frustration and say why wait until next year when there are things to be learned now that can provide success for the players. He sounds like a good guy, I bet he would be okay with you taking some players to another station. It could just be a personality difference where he doesn't want to ask and you don't want to impose, but after someone makes the first move you guys might work well together.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Megunticook View Post
      So this year I'm assisting a coach who will be leaving next year, and most likely I'll take over for the next couple years.

      I like the coach a lot, good heart and decent baseball knowledge. .

      This is a slam dunk, be a good soldier and wait for next year.
      You'll be glad you did.
      It sounds like you'll be a heck of a head coach, next year.
      Skip

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Megunticook View Post

        I would definitely do things differently, but I want to be a good assistant and not always be saying "why don't we do it this way" or challenging his approach. After all, it's his team and my role is to help out.
        I think you answered your own question with the bolded statement above. Good luck on your season.

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        • #5
          The biggest thing I want from my assistants is to listen to me on why I want things done a certain way.

          I have a problem with guys wanting to do things the old school way -- lots of kids waiting in line -- while I prefer more stations, shorter lines, and lots of touches.
          Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

          I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by heretolearn View Post
            2) Suggest that he let you take a few of the kids that are shagging balls and do some drills with them. In most cases a coach won't turn down an opporunity for players to get more reps as long as it doesn't interfere with what they had/have planned.
            Some will, but that's a sign that you need to move your kid to another team.
            Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

            I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
              Some will, but that's a sign that you need to move your kid to another team.
              Good point.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                This is a slam dunk, be a good soldier and wait for next year.
                You'll be glad you did.
                It sounds like you'll be a heck of a head coach, next year.


                Agree........
                "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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                • #9
                  I would say try and learn from him on things to do and not to do, which it seems like you are doing. I have been in the same boat as you are in right now when I was a High School assistant and I know it sucks. Sometime you might try and suggest to him running through a hitting station rather that his one hitter at a time BP. I can say this from experience as well, don't confront him about your issue in front of the kids though. I did, and regret doing it now.

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                  • #10
                    Nothing worse than being paired up with someone who does things so opposite of how you do it.

                    I would show up at practice with written plan, and just give it to him "Here Coach, I took a few minutes to put this together for you." Make sure you allocate some time for the drills he likes or for time for the kids to goof off. Don't be offended if he doesn't use it, but do the same thing for the next practice, and the one after that.

                    If by the 3rd or 4th practice he hasn't considered your input, then I'd attempt a conversation with him and explain what YOU are looking to gain out of YOUR volunteerism. You coach because it's fun and you have a lot to offer. Let him know you want to be involved in a productive way.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks a lot for the advice everyone.

                      Basically, this guy is a good man with good intentions, my impression is he's overcommitted and I'm guessing that's it's all he can do to get himself organized enough to show up to practices on time. For example, I got tickets for the entire team to attend a game together at the local minor league ballpark, and asked if he wanted to send an email out to the families announcing the date (didn't want to usurp his role as the communicator with families). He replied that he was "crazy busy" and asked me to do it. Which is fine, but it sort of indicates his state of mind if he's too busy to write an email.

                      I'll stick with being his right hand man, but may diplomatically make some suggestions for splitting the kids up into small groups during at least part of the practices and working on fun drills that teach/reinforce fundamental skills. For all I know he'd be relieved to have some ideas. I just need to make sure I don't overstep and start trying to "run the show." Not sure I'd go as far as giving him a written practice plan uninvited, but maybe come to every practice with a plan in my head and if he seems like he's looking for ideas I'll jump right in with some suggestions.

                      My impression from casual observation is a lot of the coaches around here haven't caught on to the hyper-efficient practice with small groups staying busy moving between various stations, I've observed quite a bit of standing around and general inactivity, coaches talking way too long while the kids stand there and look bored, not a lot of careful planning and attention to fundamentals, etc. Who knows, he may be pleased as punch to have some fresh ideas and a more strategic approach.

                      It's going to be fine, I just find myself cringing a bit and biting my tongue. But we've only had 1 practice so far.

                      Bottom line is we have a great bunch of kids (only one clown who doesn't listen and annoys everyone), so if practices aren't ideal, hey, it's still going to be a fun year.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am assisting a coach this year in 10U minors. I am very fortunate that he is trying to run an efficient practice and sends me practice plans to help implement. We have recruited a few other parents to help with the drills and so far the kids have not been standing around much and have received more one on one coaching that I have seen in the past.

                        I was an unofficial coach helping another team before and the HC ran old school practices with a lot of standing around. The AC coach told me he thought we should be doing a more efficient practice with multiple stations and less waiting, but the HC would not listen. He was very frustrated.
                        WAR EAGLE!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Meg, it sounds like you're handling it about as well as can be done, by "listening" to what the coach wants and is willing to do. Often, the "too busy" coaches will indeed let you amend the practice plan if it appears that you've really thought it through. By the same token, a few years from now you'll wonder why you worried about small practice details.

                          A few thoughts:

                          1. Pick your spots in making suggestions and, when in doubt, keep your mouth shut. Your ideas may in the short run be better but affect the rhythm and tempo of the practice.

                          2. Make it clear that you are not trying to usurp the head coach's role. Support him with the parents - backtalk invariably gets back to the coach. If a parent asks for advice and he's in earshot, defer to him or ask him if your thoughts are consistent with his approach. Don't stand between him and the field at practices and, particularly, games. Try to make it clear that your suggestions are not there to change his system but to help him out. Rather than saying, "Gee, you've got a lot of guys standing around here while you're doing infield, why don't I take them off to hit wiffles?", it's better to say, "Would it help you keep the infielders focused while you're working them if I take these other three guys for a hitting station?"

                          Originally posted by The Flush View Post
                          I am assisting a coach this year in 10U minors. I am very fortunate that he is trying to run an efficient practice and sends me practice plans to help implement. We have recruited a few other parents to help with the drills and so far the kids have not been standing around much and have received more one on one coaching that I have seen in the past.
                          This hits on one of my favorite topics for 9-12 y/o baseball - getting parents involved! There are a lot of things that they can do to help out on a field - like running a soft-toss station or shagging incoming throws from outfielders in flyball drills. (And Moms and less-athletic Dads can do a lot more on the field to help than you or they may suspect.) They get invested in the team and your coaching, and are more likely to support you than if they have no idea what's really going on in practice. They become your friends - a must on overnight trips. And, they get time with their own kid that they'll never have a chance to reclaim once the kids become teenagers. Often they've played some ball in the past and have some good tips for you.
                          sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Meg, it sounds like you're handling it about as well as can be done, by "listening" to what the coach wants and is willing to do. Often, the "too busy" coaches will indeed let you amend the practice plan if it appears that you've really thought it through. By the same token, a few years from now you'll wonder why you worried about small practice details.

                            A few thoughts:

                            1. Pick your spots in making suggestions and, when in doubt, keep your mouth shut. Your ideas may in the short run be better but affect the rhythm and tempo of the practice.

                            2. Make it clear that you are not trying to usurp the head coach's role. Support him with the parents - backtalk invariably gets back to the coach. If a parent asks for advice and he's in earshot, defer to him or ask him if your thoughts are consistent with his approach. Don't stand between him and the field at practices and, particularly, games. Try to make it clear that your suggestions are not there to change his system but to help him out. Rather than saying, "Gee, you've got a lot of guys standing around here while you're doing infield, why don't I take them off to hit wiffles?", it's better to say, "Would it help you keep the infielders focused while you're working them if I take these other three guys for a hitting station?"

                            Originally posted by The Flush View Post
                            I am assisting a coach this year in 10U minors. I am very fortunate that he is trying to run an efficient practice and sends me practice plans to help implement. We have recruited a few other parents to help with the drills and so far the kids have not been standing around much and have received more one on one coaching that I have seen in the past.
                            This hits on one of my favorite topics for 9-12 y/o baseball - getting parents involved! There are a lot of things that they can do to help out on a field - like running a soft-toss station or shagging incoming throws from outfielders in flyball drills. (And Moms and less-athletic Dads can do a lot more on the field to help than you or they may suspect.) They get invested in the team and your coaching, and are more likely to support you than if they have no idea what's really going on in practice. They become your friends - a must on overnight trips. And, they get time with their own kid that they'll never have a chance to reclaim once the kids become teenagers. Often they've played some ball in the past and have some good tips for you.
                            sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
                              Often, the "too busy" coaches will indeed let you amend the practice plan if it appears that you've really thought it through.
                              I'm afraid there may be no practice plans--unless I come up with them. It may be a little presumptuous of me to do that, though, as if I'm trying to run the show. I'll come with a plan in my head and if need be I'll make some suggestions.

                              Appreciate your advice. Interesting what you said about the back-talk...personally I avoid that kind of stuff, but noticed quite a bit of it last year (I was a parent who helped out, the current coach was assistant to another coach who departed at the end of the year, and that coach was not well-liked by the parents--with some good reasons.

                              I'll follow my gut on this and when in doubt keep my mouth shut and be a good soldier. Appreciate the advice.
                              Last edited by Megunticook; 04-09-2012, 04:49 AM.

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