Coaching Life Through Sports
When former athletes are asked about positive or negative coaches from their past, all seem to remember them for a long time, if not forever. Unfortunately, many youth baseball coaches do not look at the big picture when coaching youth. Coaching life through sports is more important than coaching skills and strategy. Failure to realize that they have a tremendous opportunity to shape kids’ lives is naïve, to say the least. Youth baseball coaches, along with kids’ schoolteachers, are the biggest influences in youth’s lives, besides their own parents. It is essential that coaches understand that they are also coaching life, remember it daily, and coach accordingly.
It should go without saying that coaches should take this opportunity to be positive influences and positive role models. This does not mean youth baseball coaches have to be experts at teaching the game or dealing with kids, but the use of some basic baseball rules goes a long way towards those goals. Coaching life lessons that shape players future in meaningful ways is accomplished by enforcing baseball rules like the following.
Coaching Life Lesson – Respect
Nothing is more important for a youth baseball coaches to teach than having kids develop respect for:
Teammates – Team Baseball Rule – Players never disrespect other players by:
- “Showing another player up” – meaning that they cannot show any kind of disgust when another player does not make a play, or does something considered “stupid,” on the playing field. Players cannot be allowed to tell other players what they should have done, that is the coach’s job.
- “Excluding Players” – cliques are not allowed nor the ignoring of other teammates because they are not good players
Adults – Player Baseball Rule – Players address adults in a respectful way with:
- “Coach,” or with the address the coach requests
- “Mr.” or “Mrs.” to other parents
- “Mr. Umpire” when asking for the count or number of outs, which is the only reason players should ever talk to an umpire.
Addressing adults without an introductory word, or with the words, hey, first names, or “blue” (to umpire) are not acceptable.
Self – Baseball rule – No Pouting allowed
Frustration is normal, especially with the difficulty of baseball, but players cannot be allowed to throw bats, swear, laugh at others play, or “beat themselves up” with negative self-talk. Baseball is a team game, so players should not be allowed to bring unnecessary attention to themselves.
Game of baseball – Baseball Rule – This was alluded to earlier, but players are not allowed to question the umpire or coaches (own or other team’s) with looks or words. Additionally, players should not be allowed to look into the stands at their parents for advice. Coaches are there for a reason.
Coaching Life Lesson – Value of Hard work
Not all players can have great baseball success, but they can learn the value of hard work with baseball rules that promote that. Baseball Rule that requires “hustle,” on and off the field by:
1. Being prepared to get to their positions with glove ready and a quick jog
2. Running out all batted balls
3. Backing up plays
4. Helping with gear placement before practice, cleanup, and gear pickup after games or practice
Coaching Life Lesson – Accountability
Another great coaching life lesson taught through baseball rules is that individuals are accountable for their actions by:
- Never making excuses for bad play
- Never blaming others (umpires)
- Being ready when it’s their turn to bat, or go into games
- Missing as few of team practices as possible
Of course, these coaching points are what sportsmanship is all about – respect for all, fairness, and for the game – and is the number one thing coaches teach, beside the fundamentals of the game. As with any rules, it is important to have a predetermined discipline, when those baseball rules are stretched, that are enforced the same for all violators. These should not be harsh punishments, but ones that are age and level appropriate, and ones that make the point that rules are important to follow.
Of course, the most obvious form of discipline is limiting the number of innings played by violators of team baseball rules.