I know there were times when we drove my dad crazy. Now I know how he felt all those years. I’m just getting started with coaching my kids, but here are a few tips I’ve picked up that help me keep my sanity as a coach.
1. Expect your incredible knowledge of the game to be considered irrelevant. Let’s be honest, some who will read this are great coaches, had great playing careers, and have great knowledge of even the smallest details of baseball mechanics and strategy. For you, coaching will be an especially frustrating endeavor if you expect those on your team (whether it’s little league, high school, or college) to fully appreciate your mastery of the National Pastime. So, don’t expect them to. This isn’t about giving up or not trying to pass along your knowledge. It’s about realism, and realistically speaking, most people don’t care what you know or what you did.
2. Expect nothing in return. Picture this: you’ve given your time, energy, sweat, and your entire spring to a youth or high school baseball team. The ten or twelve (or 25 in high school) guys on the team seemed to enjoy playing for you. Yet, only one shakes your hand at the end of the season and says thanks. How do you handle it? If you’re pouring yourself out for your own glory, you’ll be offended and deeply disappointed. But, if you’re pouring yourself out for God’s glory, you won’t think twice about doing it all over again for nothing. If you need further inspiration, check out the story of the one guy out of ten who came back to thank Jesus for healing in Luke 17:11-19.
3. Expect the players and parents to care less about baseball than you do. I have to admit, I don’t really care about any sport but baseball. I pretend to like football and basketball in their seasons, but baseball is it for me. My son is the same way. We love to watch it, play it, talk about it, argue about it, and dream about it. If I’m expecting most people on my little league team to be that way, I’m fooling myself big time. Most people care less about baseball than I do. That doesn’t make them bad people, bad players, or bad parents. It just means they care less about baseball than I do. As a coach, I have to learn to deal with this and the potential frustration that comes with it.
4. Expect to be the only baseball influence the kids on your team have all season. I was blessed with a team full of great kids and great parents this year. Many of them were very diligent to work with their kids at times other than official practices and games. But this is rare. As a little league coach, expect that you will likely be the kids on your team will only think about baseball seriously when they are with you. This can lead you to give up or to work harder when you’re with them. The choice is yours.
5. Most importantly, expect that the players on your team want and need much more than baseball from you. They need a leader. They need someone to love them. They need patience. They want you to like them. They want to have fun. Give them baseball, yes, but don’t stop there. You are more valuable to your players than that.