Coaching Mentoring to Avoid Unfortunate Incidents
Unfortunately, coaching mentoring at the youth baseball level is often non-existent. Without this coaching mentoring, knowledge of the many unwritten baseball rules is not handed down to inexperienced coaches. The lack of coaching mentoring leads to the risk of negative confrontations and un-sportsmanship behavior in youth baseball. Many youth baseball coaches simply do not realize that their coaching habits are against the unwritten baseball rules that exist to promote good sportsmanship.
This is a common scene at baseball games. One team’s coach gets “in the face” of the other team’s coach after the game, accusing him of running up the score on his team. This is a preventable situation, but not all coaches know the unwritten baseball rules that uphold sportsmanship.
I believe all volunteer baseball coaches get into the game with the best intentions and are out to help youth. However, many lack training and expertise in the finer parts of the game, which is understandable. Most have a baseball background, having played baseball at least through high school, but this background does not make them aware of many unwritten baseball rules.
On the other hand, there are those few youth baseball coaches that know those rules but choose to ignore them. Some baseball coaches have the “win at all cost” mentality, or a “beat the opposition as bad as possible” mentality. Of course, neither of those have a place in youth sports but those coaching philosophies exist.
Understandably, young players do not know these unwritten baseball rules, so it is mandatory that coaches teach these to them, also. Finally, there is a difference between the higher levels of baseball and youth baseball, as no lead may be safe in youth baseball, but good sportsmanship is mandatory at all levels.
Youth Sports Starts with Good Coaching Mentoring
The most common unwritten rules involve running up the score – of course, coaches of the winning team should never have players make outs intentionally, but they can limit the number of runs by not:
- Stealing when they have a big lead, especially later in the game
- Allowing hitters to swing on three and zero counts when the game is out of hand
- Bunting when the score is lopsided
- Keeping the regulars in the games without substituting extra players, when available
- Using the take sign with a big lead except for the three and zero count
There are many other unwritten baseball rules that show good sportsmanship. Baseball coaches should not allow themselves, players or fans to:
- Yell, “Swing batter” when the pitched ball is at home plate
- Have catchers talk to distract batters
- Yell, “Miss it” as players are fielding balls – or any other such words directed at the opposing players.
- Signal the type pitch to batters when coaches see the catcher’s signs
- Allow players to peek back at the catcher’s signs by the batter
- Run just to run and into intentional run-downs, because they know other team cannot execute run-downs
- Talk to, yell at, or oven look at umpires, unless it is a harmless question like “How many outs” or “What’s the count”
- Use of the “take sign” – many coaches do not allow weaker batters to swing until they get one or two strikes, hoping batters get walks instead
- Throw at batters or near them to “send a message”
- Make calls for umpires
- Celebrate excessively, as a way of rubbing in a victory
- Taunt other team’s players, coaches, or fans in any manner
- Speak to other team’s players or parents in a negative way – before, during, or after games
Sportsmanship and Coaching Mentoring
Of course, many of these baseball rules are obvious but some are open to a never-ending debate, as to whether they are displays of bad sportsmanship in baseball. Also unfortunate is that, players sometimes learn un-sportsmanship behavior, as showing up a pitcher after a home run, from the major league players. When in doubt, coaches should communicate with the opposing team’s coaches and/or umpires beforehand, as to every one’s intentions and to proper sportsmanship. The best solution to this lack of sportsmanship problem is better coaching mentoring for our coaches by leagues and schools.