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Thread: what questions should be asked when looking for new team

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    I can talk softball all day CanOfCorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by STRIKE3 View Post
    I will add one to the list....

    How long do the coaches talk after a game and or tournament?

    I am still convinced that after a game or long weekend the girls attention span despite the age is minimal. Everything that needs to be said can be reduced to a couple of minutes versus a 10 to 15 minute lecture. Confident after the first couple of minutes the girls tune out....... Keep it quick, to the point, and let them go.
    Pretty sure Domingo Ayala would agree! His coach talk video on this is right on. I always thought my 2 minutes limit was wrong until I saw that video. I couldn’t ever figure out what the guys on the other side of the field were going on about, anyway. I mean I never saw pizza show up so...

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    Softball Junkie bmakj's Avatar
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    yeah, current coach likes to talk for a bit after games, not quite 45, but 20-25 minutes most of the time. in fact, that is one of the issues, seems to love his own voice, talks too much during practices and games. goes into way too much detail in practices about what is going to be happening. girls are NOt going to get it until they experience it. and during games, too much instruction and not enough direction, the latter is what is needed in games (along with helping confidence when needed).

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    Certified softball maniac FP26's Avatar
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    Many of the questions I would ask have been included in the thread, but here are a couple other things to consider.

    1) Try to get a sense of the organization's other teams. For example, does the organization carry two teams at each age group? If so, are the players selected based on birth year? Experience? Ability? Other factors? I bring this up in case you have a 2nd year 12u joining a roster of mostly 1st year 12u players. Once that season is completed, you will need to start all over again.
    2) What are the long term plans for the organization? Is your player's long term goal playing high school ball? College ball? Orgs have different goals and it can be helpful to align the player's goals with that of the org. Things worked out well for DD, but looking back on things I wish she had moved to a more competitive team earlier. Ultimately she got a spot on the college team of her choice, so everything is good. But I am a believer in playing against the best competition you can compete with. Challenge your players to get better.
    3) Parent coaches -- I understand the concerns with this. And I have seen some examples that meet everyone's horror stories. But keep in mind that a very high percentage of travel ball teams are coached by volunteers. They are not paid (yes there are exceptions). Finding a team that is not coached by a parent can be quite challenging. Some parent coaches really do try to do their best to treat all the players fairly and equitably. Yes, I am a parent coach, so I am somewhat biased with this
    "Once you stop learning, you start dying" -- Albert Einstein.

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    I can talk softball all day CanOfCorn's Avatar
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    Default what questions should be asked when looking for new team

    Many moons ago my daughter want to try travel soccer. I knew nada so I did a bit research and on a similar board found the following. Much of this fits to any sport. They recommend go to tryouts and practices observing the following....


    On a website for soccer coaches, a long and spirited discussion led to the following “20 Questions” list (plus 5 more for Game Day) of things the most effective coaches will be doing. The list has been recommended to parents who are looking for terrific coaching for their child – but who might know little about the sport.
    1. How are players greeted? Is it warm, positive, confident?
    2. How engaged is the coach throughout the session?
    3. How much time are players doing, rather than stopped and listening?
    4. Is everyone on the team being coached? Is there coaching that appears directed to increasing individual player strengths as well as eliminating weaknesses? Does the coaching seem to inspire players?
    5. “Correction is a compliment.” Is correction given in a positive manner that conveys the message both that “I want you to get better” and “I believe you can”?
    6. “What gets rewarded gets repeated.” How much recognition, using players’ names, is given to positive moments?
    7. Is effort and boldness getting positive recognition (and encouragement), or just the outcomes that succeed?
    8. “Doers make mistakes.” Mistakes can make you better. (“Mistakes are good. Struggle makes you stronger.”) Are those kinds of mistakes praised or criticized?
    9. Do sessions seem well prepared? Are activities set up before the session starts? Are players moving with a ball at the designated starting time? Is there good flow from one activity to the next? Does the session end on time?
    10. Watch how many soccer balls are in play. At younger ages, a fair amount of time should be spent “everyone with a ball” or “a ball for two”.
    11. What % of sessions includes some form of 1v1 play? (All should.)
    12. If working on shooting, does it include working on technique or just shooting games?
    13. Overall, does the session seem to be focused more on developing better players or organizing the team for the next game?
    14. “Juggling makes every other touch better.” Does it appear that learning to juggle is encouraged?
    15. Is there any emphasis on exterminating “Useless Weak Foot Syndrome?”
    16. A clue to player engagement: is the practice noisy, or is the only voice that of the coach? Do the players appear to be enjoying their time together?
    17. Watch players’ faces. Do they seem to be enjoying it? Better, do they have that scrunched-up-face look that comes with total focus and involvement?
    18. What’s the tone of the end-of-the-session (or end of day) summary? Does it efficiently sum up what was done and why?
    19. When it’s all done, do the players look satisfied with what they’ve experienced? Do they leave with smiles and happy chatter?
    20. Does the coach leave the same way?

    Now, on Game Day
    1. Whose game is it? Games should largely belong to the players. Does the coach largely “Train and Trust” the players, letting them think and make decisions, or is there a constant stream of instructions that micromanages play on the field.
    2. Is the positive/negative environment of the team the same as at practice, regardless of the score?
    3. Even if you can’t hear what the coach is saying pre-game, half-time and at the end, how would you describe the tone?
    4. What are parents saying/doing on the sideline? It’s amazing how much parental sidelines reflect the influence of and respect for the coach.
    5. Is the post game summary “quick and done”? It takes everyone, including players, time to process a game, so the in-depth stuff should wait until the next practice. (A timely reminder here that one of the things players most dread is the PGA – Post Game Analysis – which happens most frequently on the CRH – C _ _ R _ _ _ H _ _ _*.) Does the coach’s summary end on a positive?

    For example #12 could talk about hitting. Is it just a couple tees with kids going through the motions plus some chuck and duck? Or is there instruction and communication on techniques and approach?

    I would say we turn this thread in top 20 things to look for softball but just my 2 cents.

    CoC


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    Default what questions should be asked when looking for new team

    Quote Originally Posted by bmakj View Post
    yeah, current coach likes to talk for a bit after games, not quite 45, but 20-25 minutes most of the time. in fact, that is one of the issues, seems to love his own voice, talks too much during practices and games. goes into way too much detail in practices about what is going to be happening. girls are NOt going to get it until they experience it. and during games, too much instruction and not enough direction, the latter is what is needed in games (along with helping confidence when needed).
    He just failed #3 in the practice list I posted plus #1 in games...

    For those who have kids who drive you will understand this. For games I used the analogy of when they were learning. Imagine them driving down a crowed highway at rush hour with all the nuts while you ride shotgun. Is that the time to bark 100 corrections?

    CoC

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    Last edited by CanOfCorn; 11-06-2018 at 03:18 PM.

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    I can talk softball all day uncdrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoRight View Post
    Strike 3 I had to laugh at your suggestion because my daughter was on a team where the coach was notorious for her long post game/post tournament chats. A half hour -45 min wasn’t unusual for her.


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    Head Coach often asks me if I want to say anything (as the AC). I say "great game girls!".

    I save most specifics for practice.

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    Softball Junkie bmakj's Avatar
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    CoC, thanks for the insights, all very useful, and I can see already how to easily modify these for fastpitch.

    one that might be a little different though is #1 for Game Day, at least for younger ages/experience levels in softball. because the dynamics change so much, coach needs to give out a lot of instruction during a game.

    example, a recent play with team we just finished fall season with. our team was completely outmatched in our last game of the day (not to mention, game started 1.5 hours late, was artic), just a much better team. Runner on 3B, D3K, Cather throws to 1B, gets out, immediately several parents (wont say if I was one of them ) start yelling "four, four, four", but 1B is slow getting ball to HP, run scores. Coaches were silent. Coach then admonishes parents, telling us he knows it is a bad game (to my eyes girls tried, just outmatched), things will get better. To my mind, there was only one possible play at that point, you throw home, only 3 possible outcomes 1-good throw gets runner out 2- good throw gets runner to go back (possibly leading to a pickle) 3- bad throw runs scores. with no throw, only one possible outcome, run scores. there was no downside to throwing, only upside, but I guess he felt we were showing him up, but someone has to provide instructions for the girls, at younger ages, they are still learning, and it is a very complicated game, with dynamics changing from pitch to pitch and even in middle of play.

    another thing I think is important to look for is does the HC delegate, and how effective is he. current team, HC is keeping book in dugout, ACs have 1st and 3rd, on one particular play, runner on first got instructions from all three coaches (and of course not the same instruction ). confused her. then to top it off, 3B C says he did not say anything, i was sitting on 3B line, distincly heard him telling runner to go. 1B coach gave no instruction at first, knew that ball did not get far enough away, only said to get back once runner turned toward 2B, runner tagged out diving back to 1B. micromangement at its best.

  11. #28
    I can talk softball all day CanOfCorn's Avatar
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    IMO #1 is more important at young ages. I don’t disagree with your view of example play but I also would not undermine the coach. I will try to give you a different light to view the situations.

    Say I am your coach. First, I would tell you early in the season yelling instructions is a no-no by saying (right out my email to parents) "....by the time you advise the child on the playing field, he/she hears it, processes it and executes it, that moment has passed so it is too late anyway. Plus, you are adding to him/her a dependency where he/she will not develop the ability to process and execute on their own. That ability will be the speed required to generate the desired outcome at a high level..." It is too late for me too and even if we all agree on the right action at any moment didn't we just call out the girl at first for making the wrong play. She can't feel good about that.

    The first situation you mentioned comes up all the time and your coach should know that. Maybe they did practice it because my teams would practice the "look back the runner and throw to first, take the force and fire home" as we are assuming the opposing coach will take the odds the runner will score. (Side note for anyone chipping in - I am ignoring all the variations and just addressing this situation OP mentioned). I am teaching them to see the play and react even if they don't execute correctly. We both agree why not try but what we really want is for them to do it without guidance. I had the exact same situation 6-7-8 years ago at 10U with a BFF of DD1. She plays 1B in HS now. At 10U she wouldn't make that throw no matter how I encouraged her to do so. Eventually she did throw, in a 12U playoff game and air mailed one out of the field...I praised her awareness and ignored the result. Last HS season she nailed more than one kid trying to sneak home. After one such HS game I said great play to her and the catcher. Her response at 17, was that my reaction to that 12U play was a positive moment in her life and allowed her to make the play in HS that day. (Yes, I got some dust in my eye when she said that.) She had to want to take the leap and that part is important. The real question is what happened next. Maybe your coach was distracted and wanted to reprimand the parents but if I am your coach I understand we can't change the past so between innings I would encourage her to throw (avoiding pointing it out to everyone) then address the situation again at the next practice as a team. After the game I would point out to the parents you are creating a crutch by not letting them fail and succeed at their own pace. The second situation is having defined rolls and "one voice" for the kids. The coaching staff needs to know when to talk and when to shut up and how things are delegated. They are models to the kids how a team (in your case 3 adults coaches) can work together. If they can't do that themselves how do they expect to demonstrate it to kids or for the kids to do it? I would be curious if your coach addresses these plays or just does standard practice.

    Let's circle back to your original post. To me the key point is “affective coaches” and that is what you are trying to figure out how to determine. I think when we watch from the sidelines as a parents we need to see the situation and take it as a whole. From your frustration in the two situations and your list I have gathered you are a parent who wants their child to take some chances and grow, because greatness doesn't come from playing it safe. A parent who values consistent message because that is what is taught at home. You value hard work, effort and wants her to get a fair chance based on that effort. We have a list of bullet points, cost, uniforms, travel but really it all boils down to a few key things; what does the coach know technically, how do they use their time, how do the address the girls and what message are they sending. It is about integrity so a coach who addresses your child by name on their level and sends a positive message doesn't bury someone in RF for a guest player. Those don't usually go together. You are weeding out the salesmen who tend to be about themselves and is always shopping for the stud player.

    If you are doing tryouts I suggest; observe the coach/player interactions (address the girls/message), ask them to take 15-20 minutes to demonstrate a sample practice (use of time/technical skills), talk to returning parents (gauging integrity/communication etc.).

    And BTW if a program or team has a list of trophies on the front page of the website or a whole page dedicated to the "we won these tournaments what had 3 team in them" run.


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    Softball Junkie bmakj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanOfCorn View Post
    IMO #1 is more important at young ages. I don’t disagree with your view of example play but I also would not undermine the coach. I will try to give you a different light to view the situations.

    Say I am your coach. First, I would tell you early in the season yelling instructions is a no-no by saying (right out my email to parents) "....by the time you advise the child on the playing field, he/she hears it, processes it and executes it, that moment has passed so it is too late anyway. Plus, you are adding to him/her a dependency where he/she will not develop the ability to process and execute on their own. That ability will be the speed required to generate the desired outcome at a high level..." It is too late for me too and even if we all agree on the right action at any moment didn't we just call out the girl at first for making the wrong play. She can't feel good about that.
    I would be fine with this if they actually coached, or had practice any scenarios like this in practice. they have not. girl on 1B had no clue that she should be throwing home. they have not all fall (team formed in summer) practiced pickoffs at 1B or 3B, pickles, D3K with runners on, baserunning, etc.. lots of work on cutoffs from outfield, and trying to have them determine which runner to go after, but without runners, so IMHO it was basically a waste of time, because they cannot develop that judgement without baserunners. Other main defensive situational drills is working on bunts, because he determines bunt coverage via a signal (corners do not automatically crash, mistake in my mind, basically I am pretty certain this is so if his kid is on a corner, she never has to crash), so they had to proactice that (ie who is crashing cased on called signal) over and over and over. was pretty useless too, as very little bunting against us, for a variety of reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by CanOfCorn View Post
    The first situation you mentioned comes up all the time and your coach should know that. Maybe they did practice it because my teams would practice the "look back the runner and throw to first, take the force and fire home" as we are assuming the opposing coach will take the odds the runner will score. (Side note for anyone chipping in - I am ignoring all the variations and just addressing this situation OP mentioned). I am teaching them to see the play and react even if they don't execute correctly. We both agree why not try but what we really want is for them to do it without guidance. I had the exact same situation 6-7-8 years ago at 10U with a BFF of DD1. She plays 1B in HS now. At 10U she wouldn't make that throw no matter how I encouraged her to do so. Eventually she did throw, in a 12U playoff game and air mailed one out of the field...I praised her awareness and ignored the result. Last HS season she nailed more than one kid trying to sneak home. After one such HS game I said great play to her and the catcher. Her response at 17, was that my reaction to that 12U play was a positive moment in her life and allowed her to make the play in HS that day. (Yes, I got some dust in my eye when she said that.) She had to want to take the leap and that part is important. The real question is what happened next. Maybe your coach was distracted and wanted to reprimand the parents but if I am your coach I understand we can't change the past so between innings I would encourage her to throw (avoiding pointing it out to everyone) then address the situation again at the next practice as a team. After the game I would point out to the parents you are creating a crutch by not letting them fail and succeed at their own pace. The second situation is having defined rolls and "one voice" for the kids. The coaching staff needs to know when to talk and when to shut up and how things are delegated. They are models to the kids how a team (in your case 3 adults coaches) can work together. If they can't do that themselves how do they expect to demonstrate it to kids or for the kids to do it? I would be curious if your coach addresses these plays or just does standard practice.
    I do think someone needs to provide direction to players at younger ages as action is going on. like you said, by they time they implement it, unless they were already doing so, it is too late. However, by giving the instruction, and them at least attempting the play, they begin to develop that sense for themselves over time. in this example, 1B was getting ready to return ball to circle, at the very least you have to reinforce with them to be aware of other runners. they need to crawl (attempt the play based on in play instruction) before they can walk (attempt the play on their own unsuccessfully), and walk before they can run (make the play successfully without instruction). I am a firm believer that a particular play needs to be attempted dozens of times before they will succeed on a regular basis (think back to coach pitch, how many times was a ball fielded in the infield before a successfull force out was made by a particular group of girls?)

    Quote Originally Posted by CanOfCorn View Post
    Let's circle back to your original post. To me the key point is “affective coaches” and that is what you are trying to figure out how to determine. I think when we watch from the sidelines as a parents we need to see the situation and take it as a whole. From your frustration in the two situations and your list I have gathered you are a parent who wants their child to take some chances and grow, because greatness doesn't come from playing it safe. A parent who values consistent message because that is what is taught at home. You value hard work, effort and wants her to get a fair chance based on that effort. We have a list of bullet points, cost, uniforms, travel but really it all boils down to a few key things; what does the coach know technically, how do they use their time, how do the address the girls and what message are they sending. It is about integrity so a coach who addresses your child by name on their level and sends a positive message doesn't bury someone in RF for a guest player. Those don't usually go together. You are weeding out the salesmen who tend to be about themselves and is always shopping for the stud player.
    Absolutely DD needs to take some chances, attempt plays with low % of success, etc., as do all players. you are exactly right, greatness does not come from playing it safe, and in the end, all these tournaments and games until older ages are about developing players, not W/L.

    Quote Originally Posted by CanOfCorn View Post
    If you are doing tryouts I suggest; observe the coach/player interactions (address the girls/message), ask them to take 15-20 minutes to demonstrate a sample practice (use of time/technical skills), talk to returning parents (gauging integrity/communication etc.).

    And BTW if a program or team has a list of trophies on the front page of the website or a whole page dedicated to the "we won these tournaments what had 3 team in them" run.


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    Checking out the clubhouse EmToTheDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanOfCorn View Post
    Many moons ago my daughter want to try travel soccer. I knew nada so I did a bit research and on a similar board found the following. Much of this fits to any sport. They recommend go to tryouts and practices observing the following....
    Props for sharing this really good list. As the neighborhood designated "Coach" (soccer, flag football, basketball, and of course softball), it's a really good list to read, reread, and then read again every season and even halfway through a season. I'm copy and pasting it into an email to a bunch of my buddies.


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