Tips for Parents

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Tips for Parents

Work with your children. There really is little more satisfying than going out at least a few evenings a week and playing ball with your kids. This gives quality time, and helps your child improve his/her skills (and trust me, the better your child can play, the more she/he will enjoy the Little League experience!) Some day, your child will look back on the summer evenings spent playing catch with mom and dad.

Get involved in your local League. Little League is run on a volunteer basis, and they can use all the help they can get. Anything you can do to pitch in will make the League run more smoothly, and will help all the kids, from helping out at tryouts, to scorekeeping, to umpiring. If your child sees that Little League is that important to you, he/she will learn that is important to the kids too. The Leagues provide all of the training anyone needs. Some people worry that they are not qualified--I say if you make a mistake, you can offer to give back the money you earned that day (remember --it's volunteer work!!) Besides, even coaches and players make mistakes...the point is to learn and to have fun, and to teach kids that you care!!!

Different coaches have different philosophies. Some believe in having players play all positions, some want players to become good at one. It is IMPORTANT to remember that your childs coach is not being paid, he is working for the love of the game and the kids. Let him be the coach! Don't argue and criticize if you think your child is being treated unfairly (as parents, it is natural to be very protective, but most coaches aren't discriminating). If you think there is a problem, discuss it with the coach AWAY from the ball field; chances are that you will see his point of view. The important thing is not to make an issue in front of the players; along with baseball, they are learning to work as a team and to respect authority and not to ruin this teaching.

For heaven's sake, show up for the games AND the practices. In today's busy world it is sometimes hard to juggle schedules, but this is your child! I cannot begin to tell stories of kids, I've seen who never tried to excel at Little League, and invariably these kids were dropped off at practices and picked up afterwards, without the parent(s) ever watching a single practice. It's only a couple of times a week, a couple of months out of the year! The most irritating are the parents who don't ever watch practice (and, therefore, never understand the coaches philosophy), but will question (yell!) at a coaches decision during the game. Most people wouldn't dare to not show up for work and still tell the boss what's wrong with the company, but they will turn around and do just that with their childs' coach.

Also, support all the players, not just your own. There's nothing more irritating than the parent who cheers for only one player, their own. This is a team, support all the kids, and watch the whole game..not just your son/daughter.

Respect the rules! This is what the kids should be learning. If you don't agree with an umpires call, keep it to yourself. If there is a team rule that bothers you, well, it's their team...not yours. If you think there is a serious problem, take it up with the coach or a League official on your own time, not your childs'. Rule of thumb: during practice or games, don't speak unless spoken to (except, of course, to cheer on ALL the kids).

Don't create pressure. Just about every father dreams of his son becoming a major league star, but they are only children. Don't expect more than they can deliver. Give positive encourgement, and be there when they need you. Besides, often a child in early years will lack certain skills, and blossom later on. Don't fight nature, or the kids.

Ice Cream!!! No one likes to lose, but the nature of a team sport is that one team will always lose. Teach your child that he/she didn't lose, the team lost. And they lost to a team that just happened to play better that day. There is always next time, and the important thing is to learn from the defeats. It's okay to analyze why someone lost, and how they can do better next time. It's never okay to place blame! Then, go out and have some ice cream.

I can't stress this enough: VOLUNTEER...we need you. One of the biggest irritants I see is those who will not give their time, but are quick to criticize. If you can't be part of the solution, don't be part of the problem. If you think that something needs to be changed, get involved so that you can change it.

Cape Coral American Little League encourges parents to get involved...the more help...the better!! Thanks to all our coaches and volunteers for a fabulous 2012 season. The season is here and we're asking for your help! Team Managers will be looking for Team Parents and coaches to help. We also need volunteers for Opening Day Ceremonies.

Undermining a Coach - Parental Interference

By, Dr. Lance Green
Chairman of the Sports Sciences Department at Tulane University and L.S.A. State Staff Coach

Imagine the following scenario. As a player rides home from a game with his parents, the father begins his critique of the game. He begins by telling his son that; “Your coach is making a big mistake with the way he’s handling you. Everyone knows that you’re better than Ralph is and should be one of the starting forwards. What is he thinking?” What ramifications does this behavior have for the player? For the coach?
Initially, we must look at the role that parents have in the soccer experience. Ideally, parents serve as the primary support system for their child’s involvement. This means that they look at the experience from the child’s point of view and offer positive reinforcement for their child’s efforts, no matter what! It is important to note that the above scenario is often the result of this very perspective. The parent is attempting to boost their child’s self-concept of ability as a player. Unfortunately, the method of accomplishing this worthy task is inappropriate. It violates a cardinal rule in developing self-concept, i.e.; it attempts to build the child’s concept of self by putting others down. This serves as a shaky foundation on which to build esteem. It refers to external factors (i.e., the dumb coach) as the source of self-concept rather than focusing attention on the true source of self-esteem, i.e., the internal feelings and perceptions of the child concerning his own skill level, place on the team, or in the world at large.

Of primary concern is the resulting effect of this approach on the child. Undermining the coach in this manner forces the child to choose between two of the most influential adults in his life and creates confusion. Athletically, the athlete exhibits this confusion on the field. Concentration becomes divided during the game with the athlete never really committing to his ‘task at hand.’ He becomes literally frozen in his tracks and is unable to focus on his duties. Individually, the child is torn between the love for his parents and the respect for the coach. Each are integral parts to the development of his self-concept of ability on the field and as a human being.

In essence, the coach’s position as ‘lead decision-maker’ for the team has been placed in question. In many cases, he remains unaware that this problem even exists because the parent chooses to maintain a dialogue with his son, but not with the coach. So, how should this be handled? What should a parent do when he or she feels that their child is being treated unfairly? The parent in two steps should handle this scenario. The first step is to refrain from undermining the coach with his child. Instead, the parent should pursue a dialogue based on the effort his son is putting forth in the role that he has been given. The parent should be able to identify specific tasks that his son is doing well and pay compliments to them. These could include passing skills, aggressive play,
communication on the field, punctuality, etc. By offering positive reinforcement for task related behaviors, the athlete’s self-concept of ability is enhanced.

Secondly, the parent has every right to speak with the coach about the role his son has on the team. This conversation should take place away from the field, after practice when no one is around or over the phone if necessary. The approach should be one of ‘information seeking’ rather than confrontation. For example, the parent could begin the conversation with questions; “I’m interested in my son’s role on the team. What do you see as the reasons for his role as a non-starter? What does he need to improve in order to move into a starting role?” The coach should be able to identify specific skills, which are in need of improvement as well as a description of what others are doing who have earned their starting position. The parent should also be able to describe his reasoning for questioning the coach. This reasoning should not be centered on the ‘fact that everyone knows…’ or on past performances at younger levels. It should be versed in equally compelling evidence of superior play. In the final analysis, at least four possible outcomes exist:
1) The coach agrees to start the player
2) The coach agrees to look for progress and give the player every chance to work his way into the starting lineup
3) The parent agrees to disagree with the coach yet maintain a positive approach with his son
4) The parent opts to change teams
It is critical that the “Athletic Triangle” (composed of coach, athlete and parent) functions in an atmosphere of open communication. It is equally critical that the child’s welfare is put above all else. This includes adult inadequacies in communication, problems at home that are carried onto the playing field, parental egos, coaching incompetence, and inferior skill levels on the part of the athlete. The game is for the kids! Adults are there to organize, supervise, teach, and offer support for the efforts displayed on the field. In some cases, parents are left with the task of being supportive of their child in spite of disagreements with coaches.