Effective Communication for Coaches

Effective communication is one of the most written about, most studied, and most talked about topics in the coaching world.  “It’s not what you tell them – it’s what they hear.” I have that quote from Red Auerbach inscribed in the coaching book I carry regarding his take on the importance of effective communication.  No amount of knowledge of the sport will matter if the coach is not able to find the proper method of delivery.

Types of Communication

            There are three different main types of communication: interpersonal communication, intrapersonal communication, and nonverbal communication.

Interpersonal Communication

            Interpersonal communication is the method of exchanging messages through verbal and nonverbal means. This type of communication covers what is said or the message that is delivered (Interpersonal communication, 2015), and, possibly, more importantly, the way it was delivered. Everything from the body language used (nonverbal communication) to the tone of voice applied can change the interpretation of the meaning.

Intrapersonal Communication

            Intrapersonal communication is an often undervalued form of communication. While we spend a fair amount of our day talking to ourselves, most of us don’t place much value on what’s being said and the effect it can have on our outlook, motivation, and even performance. When the term changes to “self-talk” it becomes a sport psychology concept used to talk ourselves into a higher level of performance.  We can train ourselves in this form of communication to increase our performance (Lister, 2017).  However, it can also be used in a negative fashion to talk ourselves into a poor performance. An example of this in youth sports is when a hitter thinks to himself, “this pitcher is throwing really fast. I’ll never be able to hit the ball.” With that thought, he’s probably correct.

Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication is the way we transmit our messages to another person, other than speaking or writing. It includes the volume and pitch of our voice, our body posture, eye contact, facial expressions, and many other forms (Non-verbal communication, 2017). This, in my opinion, is the most important type of communication because, for the most part, it’s unconscious. We conduct this form of communication without thinking about it unless we’ve placed a large emphasis on bringing it to the forefront of our minds.

Types of Listening

            Poor listening skills are nearly as bad as poor message delivery and can just as easily create the miscommunication problem. Without effectively listening to the message being delivered, the message will not easily be received, if at all.

Active Listening

            Beyond simply hearing what the person is saying, active listening is understanding the entirely of the verbal and nonverbal cues provided during the message delivery (Active listening, 2017). As much of the message delivered is nonverbal, being attentive to the signals provided will greatly assist in the receipt of the message.

Supportive Listening

            Supportive listening refers to a method where the speaker feels the receiver is providing beneficial emotional support during the delivery of the message  (Jones, 2011). With this type of listening, there’s an emotional connection between the speaker and the listener and a solid belief that the listener understands the speaker.

Aware Listening

            Aware listening is a transformational type of listening in which the listener first listens inwardly as it will sway our other types of listening (Saari, n.d.). It’s a type of listening where we understand those around us, the other listeners, may not react in the same manner in which we do.

Communication Barriers

            There are numerous barriers to communication. They all cause conflicts within the message between the sender and the receiver but some are more easily overcame than others.

Inconsistency between words and actions

            This is one of the main problems with youth sports coaches. As they don’t have the years of experience often necessary to maintain a steady message, they change parts of the message such as verbiage. This becomes problematic as the young athletes are then unsure as to the meanings.

Remaining Silent

This is a communication killer that I often see from the children I coach in youth sports. As they feel it’s less threatening to communicate nothing, it creates a lack of a message. This makes communicating very difficult for both parties.

Difficulties in Expression

            This is another problem often seen in youth sports. The children, especially younger ones, are not yet skilled in communicating their feelings or thoughts. This often creates a poorly delivered message, or not the proper message at all.

Others include: 

Receiver not paying attention to the sender

Receiver’s tendency to evaluate and judge communication

Lack of trust between sender and receiver

Socialization and hereditary differences

Differences in the mindset or perception between people


Tendency to tell people what they want to hear

The Sandwich Approach

            The “sandwich approach” (Weinberg & Gould, 2015) is another way to deliver a message to a player regarding their performance. This is directly in line with the Positive Coaching Alliance and their theory regarding their “criticism sandwich” (How to use a criticism sandwich, 2017). This technique places the instruction, or criticism, between a positive statement and a compliment.

A technique for this would be used when a fielder misses a fly ball in baseball. The conversation would look like this:

Coach: “Great hustle to get to that ball! What I’d like to see next time is for you to get your glove above your head so you can directly see the ball go into your glove. I know you can make that catch for me!”

Another example of this used with a hitter that strikes out without swinging.

Coach: “That was a tough at-bat. I want you to step into that batter’s box WANTING to hit that ball. You’re a good hitter. I know you can hit this pitcher!”

In closing, it’s imperative to reiterate the importance effective communication. The way we deliver our messages as coaches is crucial to the most widespread receipt possible. Our efforts in listening to our players may be the bridge that supports a close relationship and a general feeling of openness among the players. Without understanding first the importance of effective communication, and secondly the methods and techniques within the topic, it will be difficult for a coach to connect with his or her players and the instructions, regardless of how simple or advanced the techniques or drills they will not likely be received.


Active listening. (2017). Retrieved from MindTools: https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm

How to use a criticism sandwich. (2017). Retrieved from PCA Development Zone: http://devzone.positivecoach.org/resource/video/how-use-criticism-sandwich

Interpersonal communication. (2015). Retrieved from Skills You Need: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/interpersonal-communication.html

Jones, S. M. (2011, Feb 8). Supportive listening. International Journal of Listening, 25(1-2), 85-103. Retrieved from The International Journal of Listening Vol 25, 2011: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10904018.2011.536475

Lister, J. (2017). Effecive intrapersonal communication. Retrieved from Chron: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effective-intrapersonal-communication-36895.html

Non-verbal communication. (2017). Retrieved from The Business Dictionary: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/non-verbal-communication.html

Saari, P. (n.d.). Aware listening. Retrieved from pamsarri.com: http://pamsaari.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Aware-Listening.pdf

Weinberg, R., & Gould, D. (2015). Communication. In Foundations of sport and exercise psychology (pp. 221-243). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.






Goal Setting

Why set goals?

Why set goals? Think about throwing a ball. Do you consider where your target is? Do you align your body (ideally) to best throw to your target? Every one of us may spend countless hours to think about our present life and future. Most of us wish to change our lives in one way or another. Whether it is family life, friendship, career or finances, there’s often something that we would change. The first step is to set goals. Figure out A (where you are) and Z (your goal) and then figure out B through Y and you have a roadmap to get what you want. What are some benefits of goal setting you ask?

1. You focus on the important things

Goals help us to define our priorities. You will be able to focus on what you want to achieve and spend precious time on them. If it’s not important enough to set a goal, you’ll be less likely to waste time on it.

2. You will be more self-confident and enthusiastic

When you set a goal and measure the achievement, you are able to see what you have accomplished and what you are capable of. This process of achieving goals provides you with the assurance and a belief in yourself necessary to improve both self-confidence and self-efficacy. This sense of accomplishment will create an excitement within yourself to take on another challenge!

3. You can finish the task efficiently

Goals will allow you to create a roadmap for future actions. This will prevent wasted effort and allow you to see both progress in what you have accomplished so far, and the next steps needed to get where you want. You will focus and concentrate your time and energy on the task and keep away distractions.

4. You will make progress

After you have achieved one goal, you will try to achieve higher goals. In the long turn, you will see big progress you have made when look back. You’ll grow more faith in the system and will begin to use it more and more in your daily life.

5. You take control of your life

Having a system of setting goals is like a GPS for life. It gives you direction and helps you choose where to go in life. It makes you see a vision regarding your ideal future and to turn it into reality.

Dr. Edwin Locke

Are the benefits listed above enough to turn you into a goal-setting machine? Or do you want to learn more? Dr. Edwin Locke and colleagues say goal setting is an objective, aim, or action to attain a specific standard of proficiency on a task, usually within a specific period of time. For more information regarding setting goals and specifically Dr. Locke’s goal setting theory, please go to the following website:


How do We Apply This?

To change an individual’s behavior and reaction to both positive and negative experiences, there must be a good reason. Learning to set goals is a good reason.


• Short-term to Long-term goals – define success

• Realistic

• Challenging

• Specific

• Quantifiable

• Participation

There is no more effective learning strategy that I know of, supported more strongly by research, than goal-setting. Below is a sample goal-setting strategy.

Remember, short-term and specific leads to long-term and measurable.

• S = Specific

• M = Measurable

• A = Attainable

• R = Realistic

• T = Timely


Goals should be as objective as possible, clearly explaining what you want to happen… in detail… What, Why, When, Where, and How.


You must be able to precisely measure each goal, often this area is called quantifiable. You should establish benchmarks and create a “map” that leads you to a target. As an individual recognizes they accomplished a goal, motivation increases, and provides the fuel for this journey. Also, measuring goals provides valuable feedback for adjustments if some goals are not met.


When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financially capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a timeframe that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.


An individual must have the understanding and skill set necessary to accomplish, at least, the beginning short-term goals. Success breeds success and creates the willingness to set more challenging goals.


An effective goal-setting program must have a timeframe for learning. This “calendar” keeps the individual on track and provides key measurement information.

Goals can be further divided into types of goals.

Outcome Goals:

The focus here is on the end result, a win, the time in a race

Performance Goals:

Here athletes attempt to meet a standard of performance, improving free-throw shooting proficiency.

Process Goals:

Actions and/or components of a movement are the focus: such as improving balance in a golf swing.

Finally, make sure that you provide feedback on goal performance. You measure your progress and see how you are doing. If the goal is too hard, adjust the goal’s difficulty, but be realistic about it. If you’re not giving enough effort, reevaluate the goal and decide if it’s really worth it to you.

If you follow these simple rules, your goal setting process will be much more successful, and your overall performance will improve.

Interview with Youth Sports Psychology Expert Richard Stratton, Ph.D.

Below is an interview with a youth sport psychology expert from youthfootballonline.com. It’s worth your times if you coach kids.

Here’s our exclusive interview with youth sports psychology expert Professor Richard Stratton, PhD. We met Dr. Stratton at the Virginia Tech campus and were eager to get his feedback on the following questions related to youth football athletes, parents and coaches:
YFO: What is winning in youth sports?

Dr. Stratton: Winning in youth sports is when kids give good effort. You always want the kids to compete but all you can ask for is effort. It’s about doing your best because most of the time a single player doesn’t have control over an outcome of a game.

YFO: What are common mistakes made in youth sports? How do we correct them?

Dr. Stratton: A common mistake that occurs in youth football is coaches will not spend enough time on fundamentals. They will work more so on triple reverses and other gimmicky plays rather than focus on fundamentals. Coaches need to focus on teaching the fundamentals of the game. Keep it simple and work those fundamentals.
Another major mistake is that coaches will do the same drills every single practice. Kids will lose interest very quickly if practices are very repetitive. Change things up in practice weekly to keep the kids focused. Also, keep things brief if you are too long winded because kids will lose focus.

YFO: Can you offer some tips for parents of youth athletes?

Dr. Stratton: It’s important to understand that mistakes happen. They really should encourage the kids rather than really getting on the kids about mistakes. It’s important for parents to know that win or lose the game is over and they shouldn’t dwell on it. Always encourage improvement but understand that life goes on.
Parent and coach interaction is also very important. Always support the coaches and try not to tell them something different than their coach is teaching them. It’s really hard on kids to hear one thing in practice, then hear something different at home. As parents, it’s important to support the team, coaches, organization, and the other players. It is vital that parents are committed. Do your best to get the kids at practice consistently and on time.

YFO: How do you build confidence in your youth athletes?

Dr. Stratton: Always encourage the kid. Always be positive but make sure your kids compete. Confidence is developed by practice repetition. Always challenge your players. Always make sure your players are accountable for their job. An individual player can’t control what the other players do, so each individual is responsible for doing their job. Encouragement is the best way to develop confidence in a player.

YFO: What is the best way to teach handling adversity?

Dr. Stratton: Mistakes are going to happen. There is nothing you can do to change what happened, move on. Coaches have to lead by example when things aren’t going well for your team. If a coach cannot maintain his composure then the players will maintain their composure. One mistake is not going to win or lose a game. Losing a game can be the result of various mistakes throughout the game. As a coach it is vital that you do not make a bad situation bigger than it really is. Stay level headed and only worry what you can control.

YFO: What is the best way to motivate youth football players?
Dr. Stratton:
A) It’s about an appropriate use of goal setting. Create a sequence of goals for kids, with the understanding that goal setting is a methodical process. You’ll have long term goals, whether it is winning your league’s championship or winning a majority of your games. Visualize it as steps, short term intermediate goals- step by step- one week at a time to reach your long term goal.
B) Need to have an evaluation process to understand each kid’s skill set.
C) Challenging kids, but they must be realistic. Attainable goals. Risk taking, pushes the kids to keep working. Changing up drills, so the practice isn’t the same everyday. Going to coaches clinics will really helps with creativity. Youtube is great as well when you can’t get to a clinic.

YFO: Should youth athletes use social media?

Dr. Stratton: Young kids use social media all the time- they need to understand that the material gets out. Some kids may need to turn off their twitter accounts. It is going to be tough for those kids that are getting early exposure. Kids should not specialize early, stay in cross training, participate in multiple sports.

YFO: What are the benefits for playing youth football/ sports?

Dr. Stratton: It’s fun. Gives them an opportunity to learn skills. Gives them a relatively safe environment to compete. Some fitness, physical activity for kids to keep them away from the keyboard. You can help them to understand why being obese is counterproductive to not only playing sports, but their entire lives.

YFO: With distractions abundant, How can a youth athlete be mentally strong?

Dr. Stratton: The last few years of our research at Va Tech was on mental toughness. We aimed to get a sense of where mental toughness was coming from, was it something that people developed or was it something people were born with. Four components were as follows:
A. Self belief.
B. Focus your attention. Kids aged 6-12 tend to be over-inclusive or have trouble focusing. Most sports require at least some degree of narrow attention. If you’re a lineman, you have a primary blocking assignment. Making it easy, gets the kids to focus. Make the systems easy. Teach what they need to be attending to. Are defensive linebackers jumping around, is that information that a youth football athlete needs. Always distractions.
C. Dealing with pressure.
D. Motivation.

The Socioeconomics of Travel Sports: is it for the kids or the parents?

Travel sports are crushing the element of proper development for young athletes. And the really crazy part, many of the young athletes playing travel sports don’t care what team they play on – they just want to play.

The concept of travel sports is a socioeconomic status symbol for most parents and, for the ones that truly believe it’s the best thing for their kids, it’s a delusion.

I’ve seen this also in rec baseball leagues where the focus is on how many games can we pack into a summer season.

As someone that’s coached more than 20 youth sports teams, there’s one clear point I can make –  development happens in practice. Games are different. Games showcase what has been learned. The coach has time in practice to instruct, develop, and build confidence in the players. It’s time spent for what all youth sports parents should be focused on – character and athletic development. If the focus is on the games, it’s a misguided effort.

How much emphasis is placed on practice in a travel ball season? How about the select softball team? Or the elite basketball team? How much development happens in a weekend-long tournament? What’s the team like on the travel team that has a different lineup every weekend because the team changes so often?

Next, and this is by far my biggest problem with travel ball teams, is the focus on winning. Of course, we all want to win. But the focus of the team from the coaches – AND THE PARENTS – should have little to do with winning when we’re talking about 8, 9, or 10-year-old players. However, I’ve watched way too many U10 softball coaches in travel ball tournaments get all bent out of shape because their team is losing. Any team that has kids below the junior high level that shows a primary focus on winning and not on player development is misguided and is harmful to youth sports.

Now let’s talk about playing time. How are you sure your kid will get some legit playing time? What is the reaction of the parents when they shell out big bucks to get their kid on the travel team but he doesn’t play much during the weekend tournament (because the coach if focused on winning)? Interesting? The parent can still say, “My boy plays on a travel team.” That’s the social status statement. “Your kid only plays rec ball.”

The allure of playing on a travel team because the coaching is better is also misguided. Anyone can start a travel team. It takes no special education, no coaching certification, only money. How does that make the coaching better? Additionally, the competition is often better, however, as we’ve discussed, the playing time and development are not guaranteed. It’s a gamble.

What’s the correlation between travel sports and playing college or professional later? Nada. How about the correlation between youth travel ball and a college career. Nada.

Travel ball absolutely has its place. The high school baseball player that wants more work or more exposure in the summer – play travel. The high school basketball player that wants more work to get into a college program – play travel (AAU). Notice the trend – high school.

Ask the 9-year-old softball player or the 10-year-old basketball player this question, “Do you want to play basketball with your friends from school or would you rather play in travel basketball tournaments most weekends?” Bet I know the answer.

So, is the choice for the kid to play travel ball the kid’s option, or is it a status symbol for the parents?

Here’s a great article that breaks down travel ball options.


Youth Sports Coaching Mistakes

Youth sports coaches.

Youth sports coaches are the men and women who volunteer their time to teach our youth the many life lessons we can acquire through sports. Most of these volunteers are former players, some from the high school or even college level. It’s an honorable sacrifice and we should all remember that before we begin to criticize.

However, my experience as a youth sports coach has allowed me to observe many coaches conducting practices, games, post-game speeches, and clinics.  As I’ve now coached from 3-year-old developmental leagues to junior high sports in Washington, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and 4 different counties in Ohio, I’ve watched many practices and games conducted where the athletes did not improve due to ineffective and potentially damaging coaching. Below is the short list of most common/most damaging teaching practices and techniques used by youth coaches.

  1. Wasting Time. Having young kids stand around while others conduct the drill or while the coach incessantly talks, kills their motivation and bores them. Remember that most of these students have been in a classroom all day before practice. If you spend time “lecturing,” how interested do you really think they’ll be? Then, the coach turns around and chews the kid out for making a mistake that was talked about during practice? Really, coach? There more effective and efficient ways to run a practice. Break the team into groups. Use your assistant coaches or parent volunteers to run drills keeping the kids in groups of three or less. This will provide more repetitions for each player keeping their attention and supporting progress into that learning focus.
  2. Resting On Past Experience. How many times have you heard the following statement? “That’s the way we did it when I was playing so that’s how I know to do it.”  Likely, that coach played around 10-20 years ago. Another common one: “It was good enough for my coaches so it’s good enough for me.” Let’s think about that. Kids are clearly different now, biomechanical techniques have changed, processes have changed, regulations have changed, medical advances have occurred, and conditioning and stretching (warmups) improvements have been made. One common thread among all tenured and successful coaches is this: they change with the times. While your junior high basketball coach made you run “suicides” at the end of practice, it has since been identified that using that conditioning method prevents athletes from working harder during practice as they unconsciously “save their energy” for the end of practice. And when your high school football coach made the whole team run when you fumbled, what did you learn about how to protect the ball?  Nothing.  That technique only breeds resentment and anger. Make the correction in line with the deficiency. When a player fumbles, have him carry the ball around while other players try to knock it out of his hands (during water breaks, after practice, etc.)
  3. Resistance to Learning New Things. This is something I witness in baseball more than any other sport. Down the first base line and the third base line you’ll hear from parents, “swing level,” or “keep your back elbow up.” Those are both examples of things I was taught when I was playing youth baseball, around 25 years ago. When I see a tee ball coach physically manipulating a 5-year-old back elbow higher than the rear shoulder, it makes me twitch. There have been MANY biomechanical advancements in that period, as well as technological advancements which afford us the opportunity to slow down the swing and examine it more in depth. We’ve found that a “level” swing is not optimal for contact or power and the back shoulder raised creates a back-shoulder dip in younger athletes with muscles not well developed. Coaches, get up to speed on the current teaching and scientific advancements in the sport you coach. Even though you are a volunteer, you owe it to your players.

Coaches, please remember that you could be the adult that kids will remember forever. Youth coaches can have an amazing impact on the lives of young athletes. You more than likely remember your little league baseball coach or your first football coach, right? You’re an important part of the young athletes’ lives. Take just a little time each week to surf coaching blogs and podcasts, attend coaching clinics, read books written by prominent coaches and chase YouTube for drills. Saying, “I only coach in a youth league, I don’t need to do all of that” is inexcusable.

Young athletes are THAT important.


Personality – our preferences

Coaches, as we all know, different kids respond to different forms of instruction. In order to best understand how to give them what they need, the below information is worth noting. It comes from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

The INFP is the idealist
The ENFP is the inspirer
The INTP is the thinker
The ENTP is the visionary

The INFJ is the protector
The ENFJ is the giver
The INTJ is the scientist
The ENTJ is the executive

The ISFP is the artist
The ESFP is the performer
The ISTP is the mechanic
The ESTP is the doer

The ISFJ is the nurturer
The ESFJ is the caregiver
The ISTJ is the duty fulfiller
The ESTJ is the guardian

First, and possibly most important, is to remember, the 4-letter personality type strictly outlines preferences. It has nothing to do with ability or function.

Additionally, and also important to remember, as Carl Jung spoke of, is that we often shift slightly (and some not so slightly) in a range of personality preferences based on the situation (work, relationships, how we learn, etc). Mostly, the interaction we have with other, different personality types can draw out or suppress aspects of our personality.

See the website below for more information.


3 Nutrition Facts All Coaches Need to Know

Coaches are often the first people to provide any nutritional guidance to athletes. Unfortunately, many coaches are ill-prepared to provide such guidance and, under most state laws, are not authorized to provide nutritional direction. However, when it comes to sports nutrition, many coaches and players simply focus on weight and muscle gain. This “plan” lacks research-based information.


Below are 3 key nutritional facts that all athletes and coaches should be aware of.


Coaches and athletes should all understand the proper hydration entails a lot more than water breaks during practice. Maintaining proper hydration can be complicated based on the intensity of the sport, the environment and each individual. A distinct problematic scenario revolves around the classroom setting. While athletes progress throughout their day, a stop at the water fountain between classes can go a long way towards aiding hydration levels. Poor hydration leads to fatigue, weight loss, and, contrary to popular belief, is the primary culprit behind muscle cramps. Athletes should maintain proper hydration levels throughout the day. During practice in warmer areas (in a gym, outside during spring and summer, etc.) they should drink water incrementally.


Glycogen is the primary fuel source for the body. Carbohydrates are easily turned into glycogen and without enough, you’ll see slow, sluggish performance. Eating an ample amount of carbohydrates throughout the day will replace muscle energy lost in workouts and keep the body from robbing the muscles of protein for energy. A goal for athletes should be to intake about 50 grams of carbohydrates 30 to 45 minutes post-workout. This could include a bagel with peanut butter, a banana and a cup of chocolate milk or a cup of Greek yogurt with a handful of granola. Remember chocolate milk – it’s one of the absolute best post workout drinks you can find.


The amount and timing of protein are equally important when an athlete wants to increase muscle mass and strength. Protein builds muscle and repairs muscles damaged during exercise. When an athlete conducts a strenuous workout, tough practice and lengthy games, a large amount of stress is placed on muscles. If total protein consumption is too low, muscles will not be able to properly recover, new muscle will not form, and athletes may experience an increase in soreness, as well as delayed recovery time. Timing: After a workout, practice or game 20 to 30 grams of protein within 30 to 45 minutes post-workout should be consumed. Amount: An athlete intent on increasing muscle mass or strength should intake 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight in a day. This will ensure enough protein is synthesized to illicit repair and growth of the muscles. As a general rule, 20-30 grams of protein should be eaten at each meal. This will leave time for protein supplementation throughout the day. That level of protein can take the form of a piece of meat the size of a deck of cards, a protein shake or three eggs.

My Plate

Here are four quick and easy post-practice recovery meals:

  • 1 cup vanilla low-fat Greek yogurt with ½ cup granola
  • Smoothie with 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 cup water and 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • Protein shake blended with 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blueberries and 1 banana
  • 3 eggs and 1 cup rolled oats

Utilize the website choosemyplate.gov to learn more.

Coach vs Parents

Today we won’t go as deep into this conversation as I really want to. We’ll save that for another day. 

Parents come in all shapes and sizes, just as your kids do. Some are supportive, some are not, some are beginners to the sport and won’t know what you’re talking about and others will know “everything about the game.” I’ve had parents that were stuck in the methods of the 80’s (because that’s when they played the game and it’s all they know of the sport). I’ve had parents literally taking notes at practice so they can work on the same things with their kid at home. I’ve had parents thank me for the teaching I do and have had parents confront me for teaching their kid “the wrong way.”  But two categories of parents that are the biggest problems (and often one category fits the other) are the “sideline coach” parents and the “contradict the coach” parents. 

To save us all time here, and wait until the full conversation on each category, we’ll skip straight to the answer. If you want to confuse and overload your kid during the game please coach from the sidelines. If you want to create distrust in your teachings and in the coach’s teachings (the kid won’t know who to believe) please contradict what the coach says when driving home from a game or practice or in other sports conversations with your kid. 

Trust me, almost every youth coach wants to do the best he or she can for the kids. If you have something to add, please don’t bad mouth the coach in front of your kid and, if you’re confident enough that the coach is doing something wrong, bring it up with the coach after the game or practice. I don’t know any coaches that think they know everything. 

Here’s a Positive Coaching Alliance note on this topic.

– Coach Morgan

Mismanagement of Young Pitchers

Parents, coaches, anyone who thinks you know all there is to know about pitching, listen up.

As we constantly see more YouTube videos of an 8-year old pitching phenom and hear more and more about our neighbors and friends with their 12-year old kid’s travel team, baseball is ruining our kids.

Let me say that again – baseball is ruining your kid.

No, wait, baseball isn’t ruining them, we are.

Answer this, coach. It’s the bottom of the 7th, Johnny has an inning left this week. He just tossed a great game yesterday – 6 innings, 10 Ks, 0 BB, 3 hits, 0 runs. You know he’s the answer. You have to hold onto that one run lead to win the big game. Your kid on the mound is struggling. JOHNNY IS THE ANSWER. What do you do?

We all know the right answer but the problem is, most of us won’t choose it.

Coaches, I STRONGLY urge you to learn everything you can about pitching. Because you pitched in 6th grade doesn’t mean you can teach pitching. I pitched from 7th grade all the way through college, under a GREAT coach, and I still research videos, attend coaching clinics, pitching clinics and try to learn all I can about MANAGING a pitcher. It starts with mechanics and turns into the mental side of pitching, the time allotted for rest and proper recovery methods (which does NOT include pitching on Wednesday, playing SS on Thursday, practicing on Friday and playing CF on Saturday).

If you are a coach of a pitcher, especially a young one (age 9-14) you owe it to the kid to do EVERYTHING you can to learn how to manage him.

There’s a great article from Baseball Excellence here.