Coaches and Kids
Coaching kids in any sports is a privilege. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are out there for the kids and not for the adults. I do think most people have the right intentions when they decide to coach a team but the competitiveness can get the best of all of us. We all love to win but it shouldn't be at the cost of the kids learning and enjoying the game.
I have coached both youth league and travel baseball. Travel ball is usually for the more competitive and serious ballplayer with the amount of ballplaying and cost usually exceeding youth league by a large number. Travel baseball as with any travel sport can cost well over a thousand dollars a year with the team dues, over night accomadations, gas, food, etc. This can put more pressure on winning with coaches sometimes losing focus on developing young players. Some of the less talented players won't get the work they need. Maybe one or two pitchers are getting most of the work instead of trying to develop other players. Don't get me wrong not all travel ball is like this. There are alot of good coaches and organizations who are there to teach and develop the kids and winning isn't the main priority. As a parent, if your kid wants to travel, check out the organization and coaches to make sure they are qualified and you are getting your moneys worth.
In most youth league cases you don't have a choice of a coach. The league will choose the coaches then the coaches will choose their players. On any youth league team there is a wide gap between your most talented and least talented player unlike travel ball where the gap isn't as big between your most and least talented. This can make coaching youth league more of a challenge. As a coach you work to improve both, understanding their abilities. The kids need to hear encouragement. As with any aspect of life encouragement is a good motivator to push someone to work harder and to help them enjoy what they are doing. Hopefully the player will have a good experience and play for years to come.
Something I've seen from coaches that I don't agree with is negativity directed towards the kid on the field in front of everyone there. This happens to kids from 6 years old to high school kids. Every ballplayer will make mistakes and as a coach you need to let them know what they did wrong. This is how they learn. I will pull a kid to the side in the dugout and discuss what he did wrong and make sure he understands. Negativity yelled at them on the field will embarass them, hurt their confidence and probably cause another mistake because they now uptight. As they get older and are approaching high school age they know when they make a mistake and why they did. Alot of times a word of encouragement is good in these situations as long as the ballplayer is giving a full effort. I'm not saying there are times you don't need to get on a player for certain reasons, I just think it needs to be done on a one to one basis.
Treat the kids with respect and they will respect you back. Most do want to learn and become better ballplayers.As a coach don't confuse respect with fear.