Over the years, I have had the privilege to coach many athletes and with every athlete comes their parents. I must clarify that I am also a parent of kids who have played sports growing up and have had experience as a coach and parent. At the college level, it is very rare that I have to deal with a parent of a player and the majority of the time it is initiated by me. I cannot say the same for the youth coaches today. It is very common today that many of the coaches who are volunteering their time are being run out of the game because of parents who are unhappy with playing time or other issues. As a kid growing up playing lots of baseball and other sports, I do not remember parents being so involved with their kid’s athletic experience. The only thing I remember is the dads that volunteered their time to teach us a game they obviously had a love for and it was a great experience. Parents were very supportive and appreciative of the time and effort of these volunteers. Maybe it was the leagues we were involved in were all local and there were no other teams to jump to or from. Coaches coached and parents supported the efforts and cheered their kids on in a positive manner.
Youth sports today bring a different culture. Watching the tremendous growth in our sport, I have witnessed the culture change because the stakes are much higher. Today, parents are paying to have their daughter play, take private or group lessons, and invest in traveling around our great country. The positive side is the coaches for the most part are basically professional coaches that make a living coaching at the youth level. The negative side that I see is that parents feel like the experience is an investment in the player’s future. With scholarships at stake, parents are much more involved in the process than when I was growing up and playing because I just loved to play baseball.
I would hope that parents choose to support their child and coaches in a positive way. It should be a great experience and negativity takes from a positive experience. Softball should be fun and never life threatening. After all, good coaches will teach the game and prepare players how to succeed in life after softball. I would say that the majority of parents that I have been involved with are invisible and supportive. If there is something that needs to be communicated with the coach, do it at the appropriate time in the appropriate way. Parents and coaches should be a positive role model. Your actions will have a tremendous impact on the kids and have an effect that will last longer than the game – either positive or negative. Parents and coaches need to be the adult and set the right standards of behavior. After all, to create a positive environment, let kids play the game, coaches coach the game, and parents love and support your child unconditionally.
Until next time,