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  • Daddy Ball

    It seems like I hear this term used a lot. It seems like a label that people slap on anytime a coach's kid is playing the most desired positions. I wonder if it's overused and misapplied.

    Almost every coach has a kid on the team. And almost every coach's kid is one of a handful of talented players. And those players usually see the bulk of play in the infield and on the mound. And they usually bat in key positions. There are exceptions. I have seen kids who had very little talent and were coach's sons.

    It's my understanding that daddy ball occurs when a coach's kid receives certain opportunities even though he is not deserving. I have seen examples of true daddy ball, and I have heard people make accusations of daddy ball when it does not exist.

    No matter what you do, it seems that a few kids will always be in prime roles on a team. And one of those kids is going to be the coach's kid. So how do you balance the need for the coach's son to play a key role and the need to appease though who are ready to accuse you of preferential treatment?

    And, for the record, I was accused of daddy ball tonight by a mom. She didn't give specifics. On Saturday, my son was the starting pitcher. We had a 6-4 lead when he left in the third inning. We lost 12-8. I moved my boy to shortstop for the last part of the third inning. He was benched for the fourth inning and played left field for the fifth inning. I've never been accused of favoring my boy in the past. In fact, he hasn't really pitched until this season. My boy is one of about five kids who are the core of our team. They play infield, pitch and catch. In the later innings of games, I bring in outfielders to play some infield. I did that for the last game when it was just 9-8 in the fourth inning.

  • #2
    The problem with most cases of true "daddy ball" is that the dad or dads involved do not see that they are showing favoritism. Therefore, they justify what they do saying that their kids are better than the others. I offered a plural "dads" because as often as there are circumstances of one dad, there are multiple dads who then justify their actions by saying that their kids are better while agreeing with each other as to each kids role on the team. Fortunately, my child never went through that.
    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.

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    • #3
      I accept the fact that part of coaching is dealing with disgruntaled parents. You just can't please everyone. I try my best to involve every parent and explain to them what my intentions are. I think it is good to be as up-front with them as possible, even if it opens doors to problems. For instance, telling them that some of us will be participating in a tournament and that I would be contacting them if I felt their child was ready (I had two teams and 20+ kids - I was only taking 11). This caused some grumbling, but I expected it to - but at least no one would be angry and think I did it behind their backs.

      My son is one of the best players on the team (7-8 year old machine pitch). I have him playing 2nd base, but really want to put him in Right or Left Center field. He is my leadoff hitter, as I have my three best kids hitting 1-3. Occasionally I will flip the lineup so the kids at the bottom get a taste of the top spots - but ultimately I try to get all the kids the same amount of at-bats. The fact is, the kids who excel either have siblings or friends who they play ball with alot, or they have very involved parents who get them as much practice/experience as possible.

      One of the "stories" I always heard about our local Little League was that the All Star teams were made up mostly of coaches/board members sons. Well, I found out some of the truth last year - most of the board members ARE coaches with sons, and most of the All Star teams WERE made up of coaches sons. I don't like this, but it is totally the product of one thing: to be part of the All Star team, a family has to make the sacrifice of practicing EVERY DAY for at least two hours for a month, and be prepared to play into August should the boys advance.

      It was true, I was an assistant coach on one of the two All Star teams, and a handful of the players on my team alone were better players than the ones on the team - but unfortunately none of their families wanted to make the sacrifices that I told them would be expected if their kids were to try out for the teams.

      So, things are usually easy to misunderstand. In many cases, "Daddy Ball" is the result of kids getting opportunities because their parents make the sacrifice for them.
      www.glovedoctor.net

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Cannonball View Post
        The problem with most cases of true "daddy ball" is that the dad or dads involved do not see that they are showing favoritism. Therefore, they justify what they do saying that their kids are better than the others. I offered a plural "dads" because as often as there are circumstances of one dad, there are multiple dads who then justify their actions by saying that their kids are better while agreeing with each other as to each kids role on the team. Fortunately, my child never went through that.
        There are probably more egregious and more obvious cases of daddy ball than others. Obviously, when there is an accusation of daddy ball, one parent is misjudging the talent of a player. It might be the manager. It also might be the parent in the bleachers. The coach is in a position to know more about the ability of his own kid than the parent in the stands. At the same time, the coach is more likely to inadvertently over-estimate his own child's ability and under-estimate the talent of other players.

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        • #5
          If you can realize that you may or may not show favoritism to your son (as a coach and a dad) then you are not practicing Daddy ball.

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          • #6
            Right - I won't penalize my son because he is my kid. If he is one of the best hitters, he will hit accordingly. If he is strong at a particular position, I will put him where he helps the team the most. He is my favorite player, but as a coach - I'm trying to help ALL the kids, and no single player is more important than the team.
            www.glovedoctor.net

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            • #7
              As coaches at the youth level, I imagine this is one area where we're likely to hear a lot of smack from parents. But let's move past that and get to how to deal with the accusations. What do you say? What do you do? I only have four decent pitchers on my team. Two are injured and another hasn't been throwing strikes. My son has been getting outs and has given us our best chance to win. Now I feel like I need to put him in the outfield for a whole game and hope that some inexperienced kid catches magic in a bottle. Of course, I'll catch heat from other parents if I put my boy in the outfield and we get slaughtered.

              The accusation in this case comes from a mom who says that she feels I am being too hard on her son, who is a catcher. Apparently, she says that I blamed her son for missing the ball at home plate when it was my boy who was not throwing strikes. And I put other kids at catcher later in the game but didn't say anything when they made mistakes.

              Well, I actually gave both my son, the pitcher, and her son, the catcher, corrective instruction and reassurance. The catcher was not dropping to his knees to block pitches and was not moving his body to the side. He was reaching with his glove, and I told him to remember to block the ball with his body and to stop trying to catch it on a bad throw. I went to the mound to talk to my son.

              Later in the game, I had kids at catcher who were less talented and less experienced. I was more lenient with them because, frankly, they have no business playing the position. I was unfortunate this fall in that I didn't draft any kid with catching experience. But this mom's son has learned the position and has done extremely well at times.

              What it seems to boil down to in this case is that mom is being defensive and knocking my boy because she feels that I am being too hard on little Johnny. And that's really an entirely different topic. But I'll repeat the question. How do I respond to this?

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              • #8
                My only thought is to tell her what you just told us.

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                • #9
                  Agreed. If you must answer EVERY accusation that parents throw your way, I think it is best to just be honest. Some won't like it and then it takes the situation to a higher level. I have even told the dad of one of my best players that if he didn't feel I was using his son "correctly," to carry his ass and find his boy another coach/team. I expect the parents to trust that I have their son's best interest at heart. I am open and encourage my parents to ask questions - but in this one instance where I had a dad (and friend - who never played baseball, mind you) tell me that I was hurting his son by not playing him at a certain position/teaching him particular hitting techniques, I think it is important to be blunt and defend your actions.

                  Fortunately for me, the dad's ex wife and son LOVE being on my team - and I think the situation was more a product of his unhappiness in general. I like to think we have a better understanding of each others limits now, so maybe communication prevailed?
                  www.glovedoctor.net

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                  • #10
                    As you can probably imagine I've never given a crap what anyone thinks of my decisions as a coach. I always had a coaches/parents meeting before the season to express my views on position and playing time. I heard a handful of gtumblings about my kids during the preteen years. But my kids proved themselves.

                    My favorite daddyball accusation was in 8/9 basketball. My son was the only 8yo starter on my team. He played point. A dad sat down next to my wife (not knowing who she was) and on the sly tipped her off the only reason "that kid" starts as an 8yo is his father is the coach. The reason my kid started at point was because he saw the court well and passed well. He played point through high school freshman ball when he stopped playing basketball. My son proceeded to score 29 points which was more than half the team's points. About twenty were from stealing the ball from the other team's point guard and gettting layups off the steal.

                    Most of the time the coach's kid is among the best players on the team. In preteen ball sometimes you see a kid get preferential treatment based on dad coach. But these coaches don't survive coaching kids in their teens. I've seen a handful of high school daddyball situations. But it's not like the kid stunk. He just may not have been the best for the position he played. But the kid belonged playing somewhere.

                    By the time the season ended most parents were happy their kids played for me. The only ones who didn't had kids who were lazy or clowns and were disruptive in practice. Usually when a parent tried to complain to me they were grossly overestimating their kid's ability. It was usually mothers.
                    Last edited by tg643; 10-21-2012, 09:11 PM.

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                    • #11
                      The crummy travel program my son played for over the summer actually has something about getting away from daddy ball in their current ad, which keeps popping up on Facebook.

                      Ironically, I see more daddy ball with that crummy travel program than in rec ball. It just works differently. The coaches for that program show preferential treatment to players whose parents pay for extra lessons and who recruit other kids and generally kiss the hind end of the guy who runs the place.

                      The funny thing is that my kid will not be playing a prominent role on the travel team I started simply because he is not one of the better players. I suspect that he'll be one of the better pitchers at some point, and he's okay as an infielder. But we have quicker guys with better hands for the infield, and we have more accurate throwers. So my boy has been working on his flyball skills for the past two months in anticipation of playing the outfield this winter.

                      While I'm on the topic, three of the kids from the rec team we played on Saturday also played with my son on that sleazeball's travel team over the summer. Their parents are kind of arrogant. And I was really frustrated when we lost to their kids' rec team by a combined score of 28-6 during our first two games this fall. And they were taking it easy on us in one of those games. But we lost by only four runs, 12-8, on Saturday, and that was only because we ran out of pitching with our two best pitchers out with injuries.

                      We may have knocked those arrogant parents down a notch. My boys outplayed their kids on the field, I'm not all that focused on competing with them, but it's a good measuring stick for how much my kids have improved in just two months.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
                        As coaches at the youth level, I imagine this is one area where we're likely to hear a lot of smack from parents. But let's move past that and get to how to deal with the accusations. What do you say? What do you do? I only have four decent pitchers on my team. Two are injured and another hasn't been throwing strikes. My son has been getting outs and has given us our best chance to win. Now I feel like I need to put him in the outfield for a whole game and hope that some inexperienced kid catches magic in a bottle. Of course, I'll catch heat from other parents if I put my boy in the outfield and we get slaughtered.

                        The accusation in this case comes from a mom who says that she feels I am being too hard on her son, who is a catcher. Apparently, she says that I blamed her son for missing the ball at home plate when it was my boy who was not throwing strikes. And I put other kids at catcher later in the game but didn't say anything when they made mistakes.

                        Well, I actually gave both my son, the pitcher, and her son, the catcher, corrective instruction and reassurance. The catcher was not dropping to his knees to block pitches and was not moving his body to the side. He was reaching with his glove, and I told him to remember to block the ball with his body and to stop trying to catch it on a bad throw. I went to the mound to talk to my son.

                        Later in the game, I had kids at catcher who were less talented and less experienced. I was more lenient with them because, frankly, they have no business playing the position. I was unfortunate this fall in that I didn't draft any kid with catching experience. But this mom's son has learned the position and has done extremely well at times.

                        What it seems to boil down to in this case is that mom is being defensive and knocking my boy because she feels that I am being too hard on little Johnny. And that's really an entirely different topic. But I'll repeat the question. How do I respond to this?
                        "How do I respond to this?" It really depends. There is always more to know than one can post on a forum with this sort of question. Of course, as I hear the story as you posted in the thread, seems like you were fine. That said, I agree with others as far as just saying to the mom what you've said in the thread, but again, it depends. Putting aside how frustrating it was to listen to the mom and looking at it from her standpoint, does she have any legitimate viewpoint? I tend to be a "servant leader," and ask this question (once I've cooled down). In your story, it sounds like you may have publically corrected her son, but privately corrected your son (I make that up from the way you told the story). Now as a coach, you don't need to explain yourself, but knowing how mom's can be protective of their kid, she'd probably like to hear what you said in your post, including that you think highly of her son as a player and learner.

                        On the other hand, if the mom is just being irrational, I'm not one to really waste time dealing with that sort of thing. But I tend to think that most people have a valid viewpoint, even if different from mine, so it's at least worth it to try to have one conversation about it.

                        Good luck.
                        Never played baseball, just a dad of someone that loves to play. So take any advice I post with a grain of salt.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
                          As coaches at the youth level, I imagine this is one area where we're likely to hear a lot of smack from parents. But let's move past that and get to how to deal with the accusations. What do you say? What do you do? I only have four decent pitchers on my team. Two are injured and another hasn't been throwing strikes. My son has been getting outs and has given us our best chance to win. Now I feel like I need to put him in the outfield for a whole game and hope that some inexperienced kid catches magic in a bottle. Of course, I'll catch heat from other parents if I put my boy in the outfield and we get slaughtered.

                          The accusation in this case comes from a mom who says that she feels I am being too hard on her son, who is a catcher. Apparently, she says that I blamed her son for missing the ball at home plate when it was my boy who was not throwing strikes. And I put other kids at catcher later in the game but didn't say anything when they made mistakes.

                          Well, I actually gave both my son, the pitcher, and her son, the catcher, corrective instruction and reassurance. The catcher was not dropping to his knees to block pitches and was not moving his body to the side. He was reaching with his glove, and I told him to remember to block the ball with his body and to stop trying to catch it on a bad throw. I went to the mound to talk to my son.

                          Later in the game, I had kids at catcher who were less talented and less experienced. I was more lenient with them because, frankly, they have no business playing the position. I was unfortunate this fall in that I didn't draft any kid with catching experience. But this mom's son has learned the position and has done extremely well at times.

                          What it seems to boil down to in this case is that mom is being defensive and knocking my boy because she feels that I am being too hard on little Johnny. And that's really an entirely different topic. But I'll repeat the question. How do I respond to this?
                          "How do I respond to this?" It really depends. There is always more to know than one can post on a forum with this sort of question. Of course, as I hear the story as you posted in the thread, seems like you were fine. That said, I agree with others as far as just saying to the mom what you've said in the thread, but again, it depends. Putting aside how frustrating it was to listen to the mom and looking at it from her standpoint, does she have any legitimate viewpoint? I tend to be a "servant leader," and ask this question (once I've cooled down). In your story, it sounds like you may have publically corrected her son, but privately corrected your son (I make that up from the way you told the story). Now as a coach, you don't need to explain yourself, but knowing how mom's can be protective of their kid, she'd probably like to hear what you said in your post, including that you think highly of her son as a player and learner.

                          On the other hand, if the mom is just being irrational, I'm not one to really waste time dealing with that sort of thing. But I tend to think that most people have a valid viewpoint, even if different from mine, so it's at least worth it to try to have one conversation about it.

                          Good luck.
                          Never played baseball, just a dad of someone that loves to play. So take any advice I post with a grain of salt.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Daddyball and favoritism happen and it's going to happen no matter what...For me, after the first two years of seeing it I had to figure it would stop when my son got older and it has. He just turned 12 and is playing on 60/90 against kids 2yrs older than he is and is consistently in the top of the order or is the starter for the game.

                            Eventually, if your son is as good as you feel he is, then they will play through the favoritism and become part of the past.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Not everybody has the same definition of Daddyball. I coached my daughter in travel ball and she played ss and caught while batting 3rd in the lineup. That sounds like classic Daddyball but she batted about 100 points higher than the rest of the players,many of which were pretty darn good. Her definition of "Daddyball"was that instead of favoring her over the other players I was tougher on her than the rest .In her experience,the definition fit .

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