When I look back at the roster of kids I was privileged to coach this past season in the Pinto League in Murray, it’s almost humorous to note how different they all are. My own son, dubbed “The Mayor” by another coach, is obsessed with baseball and loves to keep the chatter going (hence the nickname). Another boy on the team cracked me up with his facial expressions during his times at bat (he was serious). Another was particularly emotional. A couple were pretty stoic. All of this proves one simple point: as a coach, you can’t treat every kid the same; you must treat them as they need to be treated. There are several reasons for this.
First, not every kid is motivated the same way. Some require a direct challenge. Others back down from that. Some require encouragement and a sensitive approach…they just need to know you care about them as people, not just as baseball players. Some kids need you to watch their every move and keep reminding them of what to do (patience is needed here). Others get discouraged when you do that. Some kids need to be left alone when they fail. Others need an arm around their shoulder. You get the point. The wise coach (and those getting wiser by each coaching experience) studies each player and figures out how to get the most from him.
Second, you may know the kids to a degree, but you really have no idea what’s going on with them at home, school, and elsewhere. I’m always amazed to learn of just how awful some situations are for kids. Some have a rough life at home. Others are struggling at school with grades, bullying, etc. (I am particularly sensitive to this, having dealt with it as a child). If you truly want to impact lives and not just make kids better at baseball, you must acknowledge that you don’t know everything, particularly everything about them when they are not with you. Consequently, you must treat them with respect, love, patience, grace, and understanding…sort of sounds like how Jesus has treated all of us. (Might want to make note of that).
Third, under no circumstances is it ever right to belittle, disrespect, ignore, ridicule, or write off a kid just because he struggles with a game. Some struggle because of a lack of talent or focus, but I could not look myself in the mirror if I discovered that a kid no longer wanted to play baseball because of how I treated them. This was constantly on my mind during our season. Patience runs thin when players don’t hustle, focus, make plays, or respond to coaching. But, maturity and humility must be what leads coaches, not personal pride or negativity.
These are lessons I’m still learning and will likely never perfect. I’m thankful to the Lord for continuing to teach me and for the coaches I had in the past who modeled this for me.
“…whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them…” Matthew 7:12
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39