Before we get started, there are two things you need to know. First of all, for many years I’ve been a baseball coach of numerous youth, high school, and select/travel teams. And second, the very next article that I write will be about the parents, who themselves can sometimes be intolerable.
So let’s get started. Here, for your reference, is the hierarchy of…
Why Your Son’s Coach is an Idiot
- “I can’t believe they didn’t pick Johnny. He’s better than half of the kids they did pick for that team.”
- “He almost never gets to play but he can certainly do better than those three kids who are batting less than .200″
- “He shouldn’t be batting eighth. He’s at least as good of a hitter as the kid batting in the six hole.”
- “Is he batting sixth? He’s been hitting much better in the last two weeks than the kid who’s been batting third all year long.”
- “Yeah, he’s batting third, but why did the coach make him sacrifice last game? He could have driven in both runs! And we lost the game by one.”
So is the coach really an idiot? At times I’m sure that at times you (and nearly everyone reading these words) believe this firmly, in every cell of your body, about your son’s coach. How could he not give every possible opportunity for Johnny to succeed and help the team win?
A coach almost always has a number of options of which player to use for every part of the team he manages. If he’s doing what he supposed to (and almost always that is the case), he’s weighing his choices based on what is the best for the entire team. That’s definitely not the same as just doing what’s best for one ballplayer.
Everyone wants to win at almost everything they do when there’s someone to compete against and somebody’s keeping score. So if the coach feels your ballplayer could help get a win with his bat, his arm, or his feet, at some point he’ll get your son in to help the team. As a parent, it’s never easy to wait for that.
There is only so many innings in each and every game. It’s the coaches job to balance the goals of winning games, learning to work towards success, and keeping everyone involved. It’s not easy.
Of course, there are some bad coaches. Ones that come late and unprepared. Ones that always put their son at shortstop and their assistant coaches kid at third, and who bat in the top five spots in the order. Coaches that run terribly boring practices, and shout instructions out to kids during the game. All you can do is make sure you spend just one season with them, then find a better opportunity.
Everywhere you look, in every field, even the best considered strategies don’t always work out. Your son’s coach is likely a volunteer who was never hired or paid to lead a team. But even professional coaches do unexplainable things, like intentionally walking a batter that has a 1-2 count against him (yep, this really happened in a MLB game).
Sometimes he stays longer with a kid to give him an opportunity to break out of a slump. Perhaps we may not be privy to something going on in that child’s life that the coach might. And maybe what a ballplayer has done every year in the past just isn’t happening this year. It’s not easy to make the best decisions because everything changes almost every day.
Baseball is a game of failure not only for the players, but also for the coaches. There’s plenty of opportunity to second-guess every decision. It’s not constructive, yet almost everyone does it. But it’s unfair to do that to a ballplayer, and also unfair to do that to a coach.
No matter what our kids have, we want more for them. That’s natural. We want it easier for them. We don’t want them to wait. It’s human nature to want what’s best for your offspring. But the coach has to try to do what’s best for the team as a whole.
So is the coach really an idiot? Maybe not so much.