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Parents Coaching

Jan 22, 2009
296
0
South Jersey
Here is a question for the forum.

I am a coach with an 8U town travel program. Our town uses a local high school coach to run clinics and classes with our girls. The commissioner of our program wants all of the girls, from the rec. program 5/6 group all the way to our 18U travel program to use the local coaches program. She is a very successful player with a D3 national championship under her belt, she was a pitcher and a very good hitter. The problem that I have is that many of our 8U girls have a swing and stance that does not match what she teaches. How do I convince parents that are working with their girls at home that the swing they are teaching is not what we want to see? I am happy that they are working at home as we only get two practices or games a week, and I don't want to insult them.

Thanks
 
Jan 15, 2009
585
0
A 7 or 8 year old isn't going to mimic a 23yr old former college players swing exactly. It would be ideal if the parents and coaches were all reinforcing the same mechanics in the same way but the reality is that you'll never get two different people to explain things exactly the same way. The best you can do is have some group meetings (which it sounds like you are) and try to get everyone in the same chapter if not the same page.

You may want to have a group meeting with the parents and explain what info you got from your clinic, the philosophy of your commisioner, as you understand it and how you are going to try to be consistant with that and would appreciate if they would be consistant as well in their home training.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,921
83
Dallas, Texas
newsoftballdad: If you find the answer, please post it.

People have struggled with this particular problem forever. Softball is especially bad since Dads think that God gave them a special, unique insight into baseball--and therefore that it automatically translates to softball. (You should see some of the stuff that Dads "know" is right about pitching.)

You can try to educate the parents. Every part of softball has a reason. If you understand the game, you should be able to explain "why" they are to do A instead of B. Some parents are willing to learn, others aren't.

Ray
 
May 7, 2008
235
0
Yikes!!! Have you observed her teaching? Evaluate it...is the teaching correct or hard to understand? Is she teaching it in parts, especially at that age (swing, feet, eye/hand coordination, hips, etc)?

I have convinced myself that the times I have navigated best through difficult situations has been those times I have known the right questions to ask and the right people to ask them to. Even when I have been well informed, I have been defeated by the politics which are firmly planted. You can't change an environment that is not ready to change. I would not want to relive the recreational years for all the tea in China, even though I ou and ah over the pictures. I have a son who plays baseball and a daughter who plays softball and a husband who coaches. Both pitch. My daughter could walk away from softball today, and my husband would still coach softball.

Currently, the middle school softball coach played D1 ball many, many years ago but cannot coach the game. My son played on a team for a former major leaguer. He knows the game, but he couldn't teach it. Just because someone played the game does not mean they can teach it! (I rarely use exclamation points). Coaching/teaching is a gift which encompasses so many things. Many of the middle school coaches in our school are unqualified because more is required than taking what you think you know, the skill level of the athletes you are given and making a game out of it. I see very little athletic development. I asked my husband the other day...why aren't the high school coaches questioning their incoming athlete's lack of knowledge in the fundamentals of the game? His reply was that in the strong school programs, by the time athletes reach high school, their sport has been supplemented by travel programs. I find that sad. My dd's middle school coach stood at a practice and attempted to correct her swing. The assistant coach (volunteer) jumped off of his bucket urging...no, no, leave her swing alone. Don't touch her swing.

I hope things work out for you. I can only share what my experience has taught me. Determine your personal goal with the whole thing (right a wrong? provide good coaching for your child? provide good coaching for all children?...none are wrong answers but each have a different price tag). Observe, observe, observe. Consider who has the authority to make the change (try not venting locally). Be informed. Support your position with concerns/risks that the decision maker may not have considered. I hate to think it, but is it possible someone is profitting (other than a perception of the children) from the situation. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of how far you want to take it (give heavy consideration to the impact it will have on your own child in the school restroom or cafeteria). For our family, we identified an environment not ready to change. Deep rooted politics. Unethical (to say the least) activity. When we saw that it began to affect our children's enjoyment of their game and began robbing us of our peace, we turned over to someone who had the authority to do something with it. We walked away and never looked back. We were fortunate that our children were ready for and enjoying travel ball and did not have to find a different rec program.

Bon Chance.
 

obbay

Banned
Aug 21, 2008
2,201
0
Boston, MA
I would agree with the gist of the last post- Just because someone is a "coach" doesn't mean they know how to teach or that they are teaching the best method. Also, with hitting they may be teaching what they think is right but is not actually the way they hit.

To the original question, I wouldn't worry about it if the girls swing and stance differs from what the HS coach advocates, do the girls look good? do they seem comfortable/confident (for U8) hitting? When they're that young make sure they turn their body into the pitch and don't lead with their elbows (bat drag) .

I've heard it said (on this board, I think) that hitting theories are like religions. Everyone subscribes to one and they think theirs is The One, true way.

Our town also has clinics for the LL ers and while I agree with some of what they teach, I disagree with other parts. If you get something constructive out of it that improves some aspect of your play, then that's great! But I wouldn't go following their lead just because they're there.

*beginning of rant:*
I heard a coach tell me that he learned at one of these clinics that everything he had been taught about swinging a bat and hitting a baseball did not apply to softball. There is no loading or shifting of weight. both elbows are down and the bat is held in front and the swing is a quick chop, generally downward. This is supposedly to enable "quick hands" and therefore hit fast pitching. The girls they are teaching this to are facing pitchers who sometimes reach the plate on one hop. there is no fast pitching!

Look at the college players at siggy's site and then accept instruction that leads in that direction. especially here:Photo 2 of 7, UCLA vs. Michigan
 
May 5, 2008
358
0
Usually at the beginning of the season I explain that we'll only be practicing a few days a week and actually encourage parents to work with their kids at home if possible. However, I also invite them to come to practice to see what we're working on so that we can all be on the same page. I also encourage them to ask questions about what we're teaching if there is something they don't understand. I never teach something just because someone else does it that way. There is always a reason behind it, so if they have questions about why I teach what I do, I want them to ask because it allows them to better help their child.

Of course, this is talking about younger age level where, like you said, practice may only be 2-3 times a week.

As they get older the situation changes a bit - practices are usually every day and additional practice outside of that can, in some cases, do more harm than good.

Like Ray said, some parents feel like THEIR way is the ONLY way even if they can't explain why. They we practice something 100 times in practice, but even if the player does it right every time in practice, it does little good if they are practicing something else 200 times on the outside with mom or dad. That 200 reps the "other" way just more than negated all the work done in practice.

Of course, whatever I tell my daughter to do over-rules what any other coach tells her. ;) (I'm joking here)
 
Jan 22, 2009
296
0
South Jersey
Yikes!!! Have you observed her teaching? Evaluate it...is the teaching correct or hard to understand? Is she teaching it in parts, especially at that age (swing, feet, eye/hand coordination, hips, etc)?



I am not sure what you are trying to say here. Why the "Yikes", do you think it is a bad thing to have a pretty successful player and now coach show a bunch of volunteer coaches her methods and drills?

I can tell you that I have learned a lot from her and have been able to build a pretty good swing for my 9 yo and now with my 6 yo.

My question was more to the point of how do I gently break it to a parent that what they are teaching is at odds with what the league is looking to teach. The girl in question is currently 0 for 10 so I would say what they are doing at home is not working, no other girl is below .400. She has 9 k's (coach pitch) and one weak ground out to first.

I am looking to do whatever I can to get her on the right track.
 
May 7, 2008
235
0
New Dad...

I misinterpreted your initial post to mean that this woman with documented success was holding the clinics for the girls, not the coaches and that the girls were not understanding...my bad. The yikes slipped because my initial interpretation sounded a lot like of our middle school situation with an acclaimed former college player. If you have a good instructional video on hitting that enforces what is being taught, you may want to pass it around to your parents.
 

Cannonball

Ex "Expert"
Feb 25, 2009
3,902
63
Just because someone was a good athlete at a particular sport does not mean she can teach it.
The truth!!!

Listen, I'm a coach dad. I was a coach for high school for a few decades. I've seen it all in the hitting world and have been thorugh several phases in baseball. Softball in most defensive coverage aspects is not baseball. I believe hitting in both are exactly the same. As a parent then, my responsibility while working with my dd was to get her to the point that no one would want to change her swing. We knew that as a freshman, she'd have a great chance to start varsity. Would they tinker with her? What would her role be? We all ask these questions. So, teach the "why" to your dd. Then, she has an answer if asked why she does something. It really is that simple. Of course, some of you will have to bite the bullet. Again, I've done this a long time and put on hitting presentations for my colleagues at various coaching clinics. One parent wrote on his son's profile that if I tried to coach his son in hitting, they'd find a private school. His son went to a professional. After laughing a little bit, I wised them well. This parent didn't even give us a chance to see his son's swing. If that is your approach, good luck.
 

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