Sunday, May 22, 2011

Little League Coaching - Fail

Dear Coach,

You whipped your email out last night too fast to really think over the things that happened at the baseball game.  You might have corrected some things if you'd just reviewed the things you typed.  But I understand.  You were in a hurry to get it all out. 

You completely failed the boys last night.  And that's okay.  You know that Steve and I were in your shoes last year.  We had one night of total failure, too.  It was miserable.

Your job is to lead and inspire the kids.  You think their bad attitudes came from being sopping wet?  Or being 15 points behind?  Or did their bad attitudes come from getting yelled at while they watched our pitcher throw ball after ball?  They stood in the rain and helplessly watched their opponents walk the bases and score 5 points to end each inning.

And you think an 8 year-old knows when he's supposed to run from 2nd base?  The ball was hit in the infield.  He didn't want to get out.  And you were standing there on your phone while he looked to you for base running advice.  I felt Finn's pain and really wanted the game to be over, too.  But we did discuss with him that you don't express such snotty sentiments.  It's not team spirit.  But you benched my sensitive kid while team morale was already at a low.  How do you think the other boys felt taking the field when you're busy yelling at one? 

I don't know if your house was on fire, but I'm not certain why your phone is even on when you're standing at 3rd base to coach the runners.  I was really embarrassed for you when I watched the opponent's coach walk in front of our fence to take the coach at 3rd base position.  He walked quietly by and picked up all of the bats strewn out in front of our dugout.  He placed them behind the fence and then waited for you to finish your call. 

Our pitchers need to warm up.  They need coaching before they're trying to perform under pressure.  You're totally failing them.  I've politely volunteered to help.  You called me a typical woman.  Last year, I invited all of my pitchers and potential pitchers to a Saturday afternoon pitching workshop.  Not once did Steve ask during a game, "How is he holding the ball?"  That's a question for practice time.  The already-under-pressure pitcher hears that question and loses all confidence.  I hope you'll think about the effect your remarks have on your boys. 

And that leads me to the best news of the whole night.  You seemed to take my comments to heart and you went back out there with numerous positive and encouraging instructions for the boys.  You brought them together, put their hands in a circle and shouted the team's name.  They loved that.  They crave leadership and inspiration.  And they will mirror your attitude every single time. 

Steve wants to give up on this league.  He and Finn have a hard time enduring what's going on.  But neither of us is interested in teaching our boys that's it's easy to quit a team sport. 

We discussed this topic at length.  I feel that we paid a fee for these boys to participate on this team so they could learn and have fun.  Those are our two primary objectives.  If there is still a chance for both of those things this season, then our boys will be at every practice and game.  If we feel that those two things aren't also the objective of the team, then we'll reconsider our decision. 

I am sorry I engaged in argument with you during the game.  I'm sorry I quit keeping score.  I don't expect to wind up being best buddies with you.  But I do want what's best for all of the boys.  And typical woman or not, my offer for assistance with pitching still stands. 

Regards, Monica