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  • Lookin' for "Gamers"

    Wondering if anybody else has this problem:

    I am coaching my son's 14u travel team. It is made up of some of the best players from our tri-county area. There is a lot of talent on the team...more than most teams we play, however we have a losing record. Thus, I am revealing my TOP 10 list of someone who is NOT a "GAMER":

    1. They think they are better than they are
    2. They have parents who think they are better than they are
    3. They don't work on their game at home, even when they are failing in an area
    4. They look at the coach when they are failing at the plate, behind the plate, on the pitcher's mound, wherever.......wanting me to save them from looking so bad in front of their mommy,
    daddy and friends.
    5. They don't want to be a leader...that would break up the good thing they got goin.
    6. They really don't care that much about winning
    7. They don't really want the ball hit to them in the field
    8. They have no killer instinct.
    9. They don't really want to work hard at practice.
    10. They make the same mistakes over and over....and always have an excuse

    Is there a remedy for this...or am I just stuck this year with a talented bunch of babies who just don't "get it?" My bet is that there is no remedy - the type of player I am looking for comes internally and you either got it or you don't.

    SC

  • #2
    Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post

    Is there a remedy for this...or am I just stuck this year with a talented bunch of babies who just don't "get it?" My bet is that there is no remedy - the type of player I am looking for comes internally and you either got it or you don't.

    SC
    Do some of these kids even want to play? I know there are kids that don't really love baseball but are athletically gifted and reluctantly play in a league due to peer pressure and pressure from their parents.

    Comment


    • #3
      Is there a remedy for this...or am I just stuck this year with a talented bunch of babies who just don't "get it?" My bet is that there is no remedy - the type of player I am looking for comes internally and you either got it or you don't.
      Where does your leadership play into this? You are only "stuck" if you allow it. You sound fairly pessimistic...making statements that amount to what is called a "self-fullfilling prophecy"...or the pygmalion effect, expect to "be stuck, with no remedy" and by golly you will. Start in the mirror.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
        1. They think they are better than they are
        They all do. Even at 10U. IMO, it's the nature of the age and the limited exposure they have to talented kids of other communities.

        2. They have parents who think they are better than they are
        See above.

        3. They don't work on their game at home, even when they are failing in an area
        This would be the big difference that I see from kids now as compared to when I was a kid. When my buddies and I failed or had a horrible game, our inside joke would be "Oh great, now dad is gonna me out for 100 swings tomorrow." "Yeah, and he'll only throw 15 strikes." Followed by laughter, followed by "Hey what are you guys laughing about, we're getting killed out here."

        The reality is that many of the kids are going to a private instructor and are putting in the work of a college kid. My concern for travel kids is the other direction, that's there's work than play and turning Jack into a kid that's not going to like baseball for very long.

        4. They look at the coach when they are failing at the plate, behind the plate, on the pitcher's mound, wherever.......wanting me to save them from looking so bad in front of their mommy, daddy and friends.
        Kids have been trained, by the adults, to do this intentionally or not. The dad/coach often says something after every pitch/swing, so the kids get used to "looking for it".
        5. They don't want to be a leader...that would break up the good thing they got goin.
        Damn man. Most adults don't want to lead either. I find the same with my son, who is talented but doesn't want to lead. He'd rather plays with guys a year or two older and just "fit in" and not have to be the "example". He doesn't mind the game pressure at all, but the pressure of being team leader he doesn;t want. He'd be the guy that doesn;t mind being the best on the team, but doesn;t want to be the Captain. Now, I can either belittle him for not "manning up" or whatever my preference would be or I can just accept that his personality is a little different than what I prefer and just praise him for the other things he does well.

        It's been my experience that the kids that have charisma or natural leqdership aren't always doing things that the adults want. At the early teen ages the "influential kids" are often the "rebellious ones". I think it's typical of the age group. Be careful what you ask for in regards to player leadership.

        6. They really don't care that much about winning
        Everybody cares about winning. Some show it differently. What we, as coaches, really want are players that will prepare to win. Don;t focus on changing philosophy, change the behavior. They may never "feel like you feel", but they can "act like you want them to".

        7. They don't really want the ball hit to them in the field
        Some do, some don't. Now that are outfielders are catching fly balls consistently (doing very well), we;ve had to work extra on "communication" because now guys are going after everything and it's frickin beautiful.

        8. They have no killer instinct.
        Most kids don't, and it can be a blessing. If the biggest, most aggressive kids had a killer instinct, life might be very difficult for all of the other kids. In school and otherwise.

        9. They don't really want to work hard at practice.
        People are like water in that they almost always take the path of least resistance.

        I have yet had a player that didn't really like our practice. We mix it up with skill stations, skill challenges/games, individual work, whole team defense, etc. It's fast paced and thorough (over the course of a week). Our catchers have accepted the realities of the position and are working their butts off (when we get to practice), but I try to make it as fun as possible. When they see at the diamonds they tell me how many balls in the dirt they blocked during their rec league game. Example, yesterday while they were working on "working the L" we had them see if they could throw the coaches out at 2B (coaches as base stealer). Holy crap, the whople team wanted to catch all of the sudden. Same thing when we worked on wild pitches to the screen with the runner on 3rd. We made a rule change that stated the dad as runner could plow his son as pitcher. Edit: We intended this to be funny.

        10. They make the same mistakes over and over....and always have an excuse
        My line is "there are always reasons, but never excuses". Of course there's a reason they made a mistake, and I make sure they know that there's always a reason. But that doesn't make the mistake acceptable. I, as the adult, enjoy telling the 10yo kid "Okay, so you know what happened. Now fix it." It's THEIR responsibility to fix it. It's MY responsibility to help them.

        Is there a remedy for this...or am I just stuck this year with a talented bunch of babies who just don't "get it?" My bet is that there is no remedy - the type of player I am looking for comes internally and you either got it or you don't. SC
        I think you may need to alter your perspective a bit. If your expectation is that your talented kids will be natural leaders, and aggressive with a killer instinct, then you're essentially expecting them to be ideal. If that's the expectation, then I'd ask what exactly you do as coach? If they already have talent, leadership, and aggressiveness, then what do they need a coach for? (Said very politely to make a point).

        My expectation for players is that they have the required talent for the team/level, and they are willing to work to improve. Whatever personality they bring with them, I must work with. I can't yell at a kid for being shy. I can bark at him for not using his "big boy voice" to call off a defender. I can;t yell at a kid for being scared. I can remind him to try and attack, etc.

        The big thing I would say is to identify the BEHAVIORS you want to change and communicate the expectations and work on it. You won;t change personalities, philosophies, etc and that's okay. You, as a coach, are primarily interested in changing behaviors. You don;t rally care if the kid loves to practice hard as long they well, practice hard. It's been my experience that fast-paced, small group, competitive practices keep engagement high and peer pressure to do well at desired levels.

        Or you could just follow my lead and start yelling "Be Perfect!" all of the time, because I think when we're honest that's often the real expectation.
        Last edited by CircleChange11; 05-16-2012, 07:31 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          CircleChange11,

          My congratulations on one of the best replies to a post I’ve read in quite some time! I hope Swing Coach and everyone else takes the time to read it a 2nd time, very slowly and with a lot of thought as to what its trying to get across.

          I applaud you sir.
          The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

          Comment


          • #6
            The big thing I would say is to identify the BEHAVIORS you want to change and communicate the expectations and work on it. You won;t change personalities, philosophies, etc and that's okay. You, as a coach, are primarily interested in changing behaviors. You don;t rally care if the kid loves to practice hard as long they well, practice hard.

            Amen.

            Without a doubt, age 14 is the toughest age to coach. And to teach (8th grade).
            For that matter, it's the toughest age to be.
            But if a coach has the energy and the bandwidth, he can get the behaviors he wants. It's totally do-able.
            Skip

            Comment


            • #7
              #8 which causes #3, which is the reason for all of the rest is the problem.

              Because "everyone's a winner", and we give out awards for effort instead of winning, the competitiveness and desire to win has been yanked from our kids years ago.

              When a question like this from a parent with a young son is asked (nothing personal "pthawaii", it's not you, it's where our society is going)......you know that there is a problem with the system.

              I'm amazed at the HS level, at how many kids really don't understand how to "compete" at that level, or that failure (as defined in what you write in #10) is NOT an option. Hell, when we have to have practice days in teaching HS kids to dive for a ball......there is something dreadfully wrong with the youth leagues and/or programs leading into ours. Should the desire to go get the ball, to "compete" against that ball, override their fear of maybe getting dirty, scraped up, or possibly hurting themselves?

              When we have to take time away from the practice field to show "motivational" videos.......


              At the 3:00 minute mark - "When you want to succeed, as bad as you want to breath....then you'll be successful."

              From the 3:40 mark - "And I'm here to tell you number one, that most of you say you want to be successful, but you don't want it bad, you just kinda want it. You don't want it badder than you wanna party, you don't want it as much as you wanna be cool....most of you don't want success, as bad as you want to SLEEP!"


              From 1:10 mark - "To my side I have comrades.....comrades that have been with me through thick and thin.....through sacrifice, through blood, through sweat, through tears. Never will I let them fall, never will I let them down, and never will I leave an enemy behind....because our opponent does not know my heart.
              ......there is something dreadfully wrong with the youth leagues and/or programs leading into ours.

              When I was a kid, and how I still coach today....we (meaning myself and all of my buddies) "played to win", always, no exceptions......and as a result, there was no such thing as a "gamer" (btw, whoever changed its meaning to be more than just someone who played a game?), you were strictly a player "playing hard". It was never something that anyone ever considered not doing.

              The teams and players that I've had that have that attitude are successful, those who do not are not.

              You cannot will a player to "compete" or to be a "gamer", it's all something that they must want and desire for themselves. Sure, you can talk about it, but in the long run, they have to take it upon themselves to have the desire and determination to , "Win from within".....


              .....all the talk in the world won't get them there.


              OK, off my soapbox,
              mud -
              In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                The big thing I would say is to identify the BEHAVIORS you want to change and communicate the expectations and work on it. You won;t change personalities, philosophies, etc and that's okay. You, as a coach, are primarily interested in changing behaviors. You don;t rally care if the kid loves to practice hard as long they well, practice hard.

                Amen.

                Without a doubt, age 14 is the toughest age to coach. And to teach (8th grade).
                For that matter, it's the toughest age to be.
                But if a coach has the energy and the bandwidth, he can get the behaviors he wants. It's totally do-able.
                Great responses. I sincerely think I got off track because I expected these kids to already "get it" because I see the 16-yerar-old team "locked in" at their games. Thus, I was surprised in the beginning when they didn't get it, and I had no game plan. I will be working on a plan to challenge each kid with specific behavior changes. What do you guys think of a note to each kid with specific behavior challenges?

                Thanks!

                SC

                "Damn it Jim, I'm a hitting coach...not a blasted psychologist"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
                  Great responses. I sincerely think I got off track because I expected these kids to already "get it" because I see the 16-yerar-old team "locked in" at their games. Thus, I was surprised in the beginning when they didn't get it, and I had no game plan. I will be working on a plan to challenge each kid with specific behavior changes. What do you guys think of a note to each kid with specific behavior challenges?

                  Thanks!

                  SC

                  "Damn it Jim, I'm a hitting coach...not a blasted psychologist"
                  My personal preference is face-to-face with "Here's what I need from you ...." statements.

                  My HS coach did this for everyone. He was demanding and even abusive, but he laid it all out there and you either met expectations and played or you didn't. He helped those that helped themselves. If he would have told me to go drown myself, I would have done it twice just to make sure I met his expectations.

                  It was one of the first times I remember being treated like man, and essentially having the ball put in my court. "How good do you want to be?" "Just how much do you really want to play?" "Do you want to play for this team or just participate in practice?" All real questions we all had to answer.

                  Edit: If you're depending on the rec league to prepare kids for anything other than "3-on-3 baseball", based on what I have seen in our league you'll be sorely disappointed. We're involved at the junior high level and it's ridiculous with what the JH baseball players come in with, especially given JH has basically 2--3 weeks of practice before game starts and for some guys it's their first exposure to "outfield". Everyone's "played short" but there "isn't a shortstop among them" (as we say). Catchers MAY have been taught how to block a ball as opposed to being just commanded to.

                  I am VERY disappointed at the involvement of dads with their boys and the knowledge and dedication levels of many coaches. But, much of that is a societal issue. The demand for time and attention is far greater than the supply.

                  Regardless, there are things that you'll have to "re-teach" every year.

                  It won't be like college where I remember thinking "Damn, the only thing this guy does is recruit us and fill out the lineup" (seriously)
                  Last edited by CircleChange11; 05-16-2012, 09:29 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Mud's post rings so true for my experience coaching. Thanks for the post!
                    Granny said Sonny stick to your guns if you believe in something no matter what. Because it's better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you're not.

                    I am an ex expert. I've done this long enough to know that those who think that they know it all, know nothing.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
                      Wondering if anybody else has this problem:

                      I am coaching my son's 14u travel team. It is made up of some of the best players from our tri-county area. There is a lot of talent on the team...more than most teams we play, however we have a losing record. Thus, I am revealing my TOP 10 list of someone who is NOT a "GAMER":

                      1. They think they are better than they are
                      2. They have parents who think they are better than they are
                      3. They don't work on their game at home, even when they are failing in an area
                      4. They look at the coach when they are failing at the plate, behind the plate, on the pitcher's mound, wherever.......wanting me to save them from looking so bad in front of their mommy,
                      daddy and friends.
                      5. They don't want to be a leader...that would break up the good thing they got goin.
                      6. They really don't care that much about winning
                      7. They don't really want the ball hit to them in the field
                      8. They have no killer instinct.
                      9. They don't really want to work hard at practice.
                      10. They make the same mistakes over and over....and always have an excuse

                      Is there a remedy for this...or am I just stuck this year with a talented bunch of babies who just don't "get it?" My bet is that there is no remedy - the type of player I am looking for comes internally and you either got it or you don't.

                      SC
                      Your the coach. So give them your expectations and HOLD them to it.

                      That means make an example of a couple of them. Hopefully you have more than 10 on your team so you can do this.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think you’re right Mud, there is definitely something wrong at the lower levels. But I don’t know that is because of an “everyone’s a winner” attitude. My guess is that it just as much the fault of video taping every pitch and every swing like it was Cliff Lee or Matt Kemp. You don’t learn a whole lot about much of anything other than mechanics by doing that. Kids learn to dive after balls playing by themselves and fantasizing as being Willie with his hat flying off, or Brooks diving across the line to snag what should have been a double, but turning it into an out.

                        But the problem isn’t everyone wins, the problem is not everyone understands what it takes to win, and often credit the wrong things.
                        The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          In schools, and in society, boys are often taught behaviors that are in direct opposition to aggressive and competitiveness. In my youth, we developed such things by playing against each other all the time at the diamonds, on our own time, for fun. Heck, a few games were even decided by an argument/fight (Gasp, omg boys fighting), followed by mutual respect and even friendship.

                          At the HS level, when we were noticing the focus and competitiveness tailing off, we'd simply bring a sophomore to practice. Among the coaches, the challenge was seeing the smallest thing I could praise the sophomore for. One time our starting SS had his shoe untied and we were waiting for him to tie it. I praised the sophomore SS for having his shoes tied in double knots. *grin*

                          I don't think kids are much different than they used to be. I think parenting has become sort of an extreme situation, where parents are either absent/negligent or helicopters (hovering).

                          Kids don't play among themselves anymore because everyone is aware of just how many sexual offenders/predators live between the house and the diamonds ... so riding your bike or walking is out.

                          IMHO, kids don't get to develop their own competitive nature, because it's thrust upon them. Seriously, 7-8yo All-Stars? By the time these kids are 14, just how many "big games" have they played in? And just how many of them were really "big games". It's very possible that kids are desensitized (sp?) to thinks by this age. They're no longer "big games", they're just games ... games that are easily taken for granted. I relate it to the kid that has detention every day. It's not longer detention or a punishment it's just "9th period" or part of their day. It loses it's effectiveness. Overkill.

                          I also think we may incorrectly remember how mentally tough and driven we were as kids. I know when I want to know the truth about my dad, I don;t ask him ... I ask my grandpa. Turns out my dad was just as big of a goofball as I am/was, and his super tough memory is embellishment quite a bit.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Actually, SK, many kids don't "dive after balls playing by themselves" anymore. Many would rather text buddies and play video games.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If you have a talented roster and lose it sounds like half the problem is a leadership problem starting with the coaching staff. You just want to blame it on the kids rather than look at what the coaching staff may be doing wrong. Maybe the kids aren't as good as you believed them to be when you recruited them. If you didn't recruit leaders and kids you believe are mentally tough that's your fault.

                              14U is a difficult year to coach. They're heading into high school. They start thinking they're big deals. Their hormones are going crazy. There are a lot of new distradctions in their lives. It's up to the coaching staff to reign it all in and keep it focused.

                              From year to year from 10U until kids make high school varsity I've seen kids who think they are better than they are. They don't understand it's a competitive race to the top. Everyone is growing and filling out. Some kids work harder at the game than others. If a kid is standing still he's actually going backwards as everyone races by him.

                              First, I would do a little self examination from recruiting to today on how you allowed the team to get this way. Second, I would have an encouraging talk with the team on how to fix the problems. I would also explain anyone not on board with the fixes is allowing for roster changes next year. You will have roster changes. But you want the players worth having to get on board with the plan.
                              Last edited by tg643; 05-16-2012, 11:30 AM.

                              Comment

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