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Coaching Your Own Son's Baseball Team Without Striking Out
Coaching baseball is both rewarding and challenging and even more so when you coach your own child. This article provides tips on how to manage the father and son relationship on the diamond.
Tip #1 Always ask your son's permission to coach
You step up to the plate deciding to coach your son's baseball team and you are now realizing a life long dream in which, you will impart your vast wisdom and knowledge of the game to your son. He however, throws you a change up and tells you that he doesn't want you as his coach and your dream is shattered! Does this mean that it's game over? On the contrary, you have just been presented an opportunity to explore his concerns about you being his coach and you can now feed the bonds of your relationship..
Always ask for your son's permission to coach his team. The more involved he is in the decision making process the more likely he will be receptive to the idea. Ask how about how we would feel being the coach's son. Discuss the pressures associated with being the coach's son and talk about your own pressures of being his coach. Most kids aren't aware that dad's feel pressure too! Let him know that his opinion and feelings are important while respecting his decision if the answer is no. The game is for his enjoyment and if you are fortunate, he will invite you along for the ride.
Tip #2 Praise in public and correct in private
How many times have you seen a coach (or a parent) yell at his son when he boots a routine ground ball? "Gee, thanks dad for pointing out to the crowd and other team how bad I am." Here's a more productive response. Wait till the inning is over and talk in private. If possible, try to emphasize any positive aspects. For example, if he had his feet planted and was in an good athletic position to receive the ball but just didn't get his glove down in time say: "everything looked good, your feet were planted and you were ready to receive the ball. What could you have added to help you catch the ball?" Hopefully he'll answer "get my hands to the ball." If he does then, he has corrected his own mistake. Isn't this is what every coach wants, a player who can self correct and make adjustments?
Tip #3 Play a game within the game
Develop a set of non verbal signs between you and your son which strengthens your relationship and provides memories for a lifetime. Take time in the pauses of the game to communicate positively with signs only you and your son know. For example, hit your chest twice with your fist as a way to say " I'm proud of you." Who knows, maybe your son will carry on the tradition with his son and create a lasting legacy. Enjoy the moments because they won't last long!
Tip #4 Treat your son like every other player on the team
Most dads have a natural tendency to be harder on their sons than other players on the team. We expect more and demand more but are these expectations realistic? Ask yourself if you would have the same expectation of any other player on the team. If the answer is no then, you are probably being too hard on your son. Sometimes it is beneficial to have another coach on the team interact and deal with your son because he is more likely to be objective. This is tough if you are a competitive coach because it requires you to trust your coaching staff with your son.
Tip #5 Help your son fall in love with the game
Help your son and every player fall in love with the game by telling baseball stories from your youth, both the highs and lows. Tell them about the legends and real characters of the game. Tell them that Yogi Berra was so good that "he got intentional walks during batting practice." Make them feel like they are part of something special!