September 29, 2008,
R.E. asks from Justin, TX on September 27, 2008
I'm So Frustrated - Concerning Little League Baseball
My 6 year old son is on a Little League coach pitch baseball team. He played t-ball last year and absolutely loved it. He wasn't the best player on the team, I admit, but he could hold his own (he was an average player) and had lots of enthusiasm. He really grew to love baseball. Well, because he'll be 7 by May 1, he was put on coach pitch rather than t-ball. He's on a team with 1st-3rd graders which really scared me for him. Being this was only his second season to play, I knew he would pale in comparison to some of the other players who are on their 7th, 8th, or 9th seasons. I admit, he is one of the weaker players. He's the youngest and most inexperienced. We work on it at home and he loves playing in the backyard, and he improves every time. Where my frustration lies is this - he's had 3 games so far. In the first two games, he was benched for 2 innings in each game, and today, the third game, he was benched for 3 innings. I don't have a problem with him being benched an inning in a game, but what irritates me is he's being benched for half the game while a large majority of the team never ever is benched. He's also always the last batter. So, out of an hour and a half game, I spend at least an hour of the game watching him sit on the bench with his head hung low looking sad. When he gets to bat, he's excited and ready to do his best. Between innings, he's got his glove and is the first one to the coach asking what position he's going to. Most of the time, he's told to go sit down. He's lost most of his enthusiasm for the sport, and he's got virtually no motivation to even try anymore. He doesn't feel like part of the team, and he comes home from the games just quiet and sad. It totally breaks my heart for him, and I'm not sure what to do. I get that people want to win, but how can anyone ever improve or even prove they have when they don't even get to try. All the sports we've done up until now have focused on having fun, trying your best, and learning along the way instead of winning all the time. Does it really change from having fun and learning to just focusing on winning so quickly? I've tried talking to my husband, and he just says welcome to boy's sports. But, at 6 years old? Really? Does it really change so drastically? I e-mailed the coach my concerns for him, but then my sister warned me that I may have made it worse. Now that I am being a "problem parent," he'll be treated worse. I'm not sure that's humanly possible. He can't get lower on the batting order, so there's nothing left to do, but take away his two innings in right field. I did it calmly and objectively. (I used to be a teacher, so I know how to calmly and rationally voice concerns to someone without sounding accusatory and harsh :) I know it's best to try to resolve something calmly and rationally and not in the heat of anger. That's why I had to wait until tonight to do it. He just said he didn't realize he'd sat out 3 innings and that he'll work with him. I guess next Saturday will be the true test.
I don't really know what my question here. I needed to vent, and I guess I'm just hoping for some words of wisdom? Other people's experiences? Is having fun and trying really gone from sports at this young of an age? I am just sitting here totally upset about this. I can't sleep. I hate seeing my son go from loving something to almost apathy in the course of 3 games. It just breaks my heart.
1 mom found this helpful
M.B. answers from Dallas on September 28, 2008
I think you've done your best as far as the coach goes. Whatever happens, happens. I'm glad you didn't do it in the heat of the moment (former teacher speaking, too). I'd not get so upset that I took him out of the sport though. It might send your son the wrong message. The "if your not having fun it's not worth doing" message. I'd also make a big deal about all the things he got to do during the game. Encourage him to watch while he's on the bench instead of moping. ("Did you see when Johnny got to second base?" or "When Frankie caught the fly ball? No, wow you missed a great play! You better keep a look out next time. It was lots of fun.") You never know what he'll learn just by watching his peers. Keep up the practice at home, too. Know also that next year will be better. Every year of experience will get him higher in the pecking order. You want him to learn that long term perseverance pays off. Just celebrate every little thing right now. Don't let him know that you're bummed for him, pump him up. Your excitement will help keep him excited.
J.R. answers from Dallas on September 28, 2008
Just curious, but this sounds like a city league rather than a ymca league. If it is a city league, then yes, they put the best out there and want to win. Try the ymca next time. If it is ymca, i would be very surprised and would definitely voice a concern, as that is not the objective of their playing.
T.G. answers from Dallas on September 29, 2008
My two boys (7 and 10) play football, basketball, and baseball, and have been in sports since they were 4. I am currently a team mom for Football. I wanted to give you some insight and then a little advice I hope will help. First,in Texas, football and baseball are taken very seriously on most leagues, even at an early age. This makes it really hard on young kids, but unfortunately that is the way it is. The only kids who are really un affected by this are the ones who have been in since age 3 or 4. There are some leagues that are more about teaching fundamentals and sportsmanship than winning. Also, you might ask the coach about the by laws of your league. Some leagues in this age range only allow for one inning outs per game, but the batting order is usually strictly up to the coach.
I would strongly recommend Upward sports for the future (http://www.upward.org/about.aspx). They will never bench your son.
Also, in the meantime, since it is the beginning of the season..have you thought about taking your son out to Frozen Ropes (http://www.frozenropestx.com/)? He can practice his batting/catching there and they even offer training/ coaching sessions that are very affordable. I hope this helps. Every boy deserves to feel like a key member of his team!
C.W. answers from Dallas on September 28, 2008
We've only had one of our foster kids on a basketball team and that was thru the YMCA. It was a pretty good experience except for a few of the kids made fun of him (he has a disability-speech and physical).
They didn't show any type of favortism over one child over the other. All kids were taught how to play basketball. They had games and they would play all the kids. If the problem continues, you might want to talk to your Son about it and see if he would like to continue playing baseball and try out a different team. They had a pizza party at the end and everyone got a trophy for being on the basketball team. I thought that was really neat to recognize everyone on the team. You may want to talk to YMCA or get some other recommendations from other parents about baseball teams.
E.S. answers from Dallas on September 29, 2008
At that age it is not fair to do that to your son. I would switch teams if possible. That would break my heart to watch him sit there waiting to be part of the game. He needs to be on a team that appreciates his desire to play and do his best.
N.H. answers from Dallas on September 28, 2008
As the mom of 2 boys who have played sports I can so relate to your concerns. I think you did the right thing by voicing your concerns to the coach. Now it is in his hands. If he did it inadvertently, then you will see changes. If however he is the kind of coach who benches the players,he may not change.
We have had many coaches in little league through the years and I have got to tell you there are both kinds. Worse case scenario you can switch him to another team. Talk to his friends parents and maybe one of them has a great team they play on with a really positive, encouraging coach. We've had those too, and boy they are so wonderful -they are worth looking for.
Little League should not be this way, unfortunately, you do see plenty of it though.
A.T. answers from Dallas on September 28, 2008
I think you did everything right. I also suggest responding to the coach with positive feedback after the next game. If he is more sensitive to how little your sons is playing you can tell him you appreciate his making an effort to make you son feel like his part of the team. I also suggest restatingyour last comment.."I hate seeing my son go from loving something to almost apathy in the course of 3 games." If nothing changes, go above his head, ask that your son be moved down to the next level so he get exercise and fun and again restate your comment to 'officals' about the change in your son. If he does move down, tell him that he'll have more play time and fun this way.
D.S. answers from Dallas on September 28, 2008
I can understand your concern- You did the right thing by speaking with the coach- HE needs to be reminded- this is NOT a competetive time for baseball for these boys- its TOTALLY DEVELOPEMENTAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go online and they actually state that with little Leage- I dont know if its little league or Pony or whatever but the thewory is the same- this is time to learn and thre are rules for hoe much each child plays. Also- positions for each child are to be rotated to expose the child to everything! If after DSaturday you feel that there is no change- you need to speak with the director of the league- stop it right in the bud- there is just no excuse for behavior like that froma coach at this point. If this man is inexp enough to realize that a kid sat longer than he should of- then he shouldn't be coaching.
Additional instruction from dad or an uncle would be grat- this is a real formative time. My husband worked 12 hour days and I was primarily the "trainer" at home. Once they hit 8 then private batting/pitching lessons is a GREAT idea. However, get a batting t and a few xtra balls- buy yourself a mitt and head to the park. The more hands on he gets- the better he will get- jsut like a video game- in the beg they are rusty- but once they do it- they master it. Just tossing the ball and learning how to use to hands to catch pop ups and grounders is total key to becoming a good player. Matter of fact- my cathers mask was a mothers day present!- lol
SO- hang in there - be patient - and be a total advocate for your son and know what the "Play" rules are for your league. It's all aboaut developement at this time and they should know that- but the "big boys club " tends to get crazy- nip it in the bud. Pratice with your son- its great bonding time- grab a small mitt and "soft" baseball for your younger son as well. Practicing with a "soft" baseball is really safe and will help both of them-
Go get em mom!
K.R. answers from Dallas on September 29, 2008
Hi R.. I'm going to try to keep my response relatively short. I have 3 boys in LL. The oldest plays in the Jr League, middle in Minors and youngest boy (7yo) plays in Coach Pitch. The youngest's B-day is 5/1. The cut off for the ASWLL is 4/30. The cut off date said "AGE AS OF 4/30/08" on the application in which he would have been 6. I COULD have signed him up for T-Ball as he was still 'technically' six. He wanted to play coach pitch though. His coach is an absolute doll. He has a continuous batting order (boys bat according to thier jersey #), and everyone is rotated on the field. His team actually has 14 players, but at most only 2 are on the bench during an inning because it's inevitable that someone is unable to come... After each half inning, his coach congratulates all the players for their effort. He really understands that "The fall season is a 'learning' season". The empasis should NOT be on winning (although we've already played a few teams that seem to think that).
My son isn't 'really' into the game. He's the one out in left field sitting on his haunches picking daisies or watching bugs. I requested to the coach that because he doesn't really pay attention to the game to keep him in outfield. <I really don't wanted him to get pegged by the ball>. And he did, for the first 3 games, my son has maily played outfield and catcher. This past game, my son mentioned he wanted to play 1st base. I talked w/ his coach about it and told him to put him back in the rotation (SS or 3rd). He still doesn't really pay attention, but he is learning... (slowly).
You did the right thing by voicing your concern to the coach. If things don't change, talk to the league director (if you don't know who that is, or how to contact him, let me know that league & team your son is on and I'll be happy to find the information for you - I know about 1/2 the board members for ASWLL and a handful of them for SEALL).
Good luck, and sorry I rambled....
Mom to 4 wonderful kids.
T.C. answers from Dallas on September 28, 2008
I agree with some of the posters. You did the right thing by approaching the coach. My son just started with fall ball little league and so far we have been fine. He is by far not the strongest of players due to lack of experience. Thank God the Coach, though, is patient and is a firm believer in rotating the boys into all of the positions and bench. He also has a consistent pattern he follows with the batting. He goes in a specific order so that every boy gets to bat and if they don't they are the first to bat the next time. Even though there are some solid players on the team he goes out of his way to make them all feel like they are the best.
So far my only issue are the parents on our team that become upset with their kids for not being 100% during the game. This saddens my heart. At this age our children should be playing for fun and learning the game.
I have to say if I were in your situation if nothing came from the discussion with the coach I would have to talk to the board members and share my concerns. I think it is our responsiblity to be advocates for the children in cases such as this.
Take care and know that you deserve to vent and have the right to do so. That is what I feel is the purpose for a group such as this . Moms helping moms in all type of situations. :-)
S.B. answers from Dallas on September 29, 2008
I don't have a son old enough to play yet, but here's what I learned watching my brothers. Coaches (at least in the "leagues") like to win games and that's all that counts. It's terrible, I know. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a neg. vibe on this kind of thing. I remember my mom telling the coach to "quit yelling at those boys!" LOL ;)
Anyway, I would check into something a little more laid back, like a church league, etc. I don't have any specific recs b/c I haven't done it myself, but that's my plan. Then, if you or his dad really want him in the leagues eventually, you can enter him when he's a more confident player and older.
Hope this helps! I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. I almost cried when I read about your watching him on the bench looking sad...:(
L.G. answers from Dallas on September 29, 2008
You sound like me last spring when my son played soccer. I think it has a lot to do with the coach. Some coaches only care about winning and forget that kids get hurt when they are made to be less than the best. When my son played his very first soccer season it was all about fun. My son Loved it and wanted to keep playing. He was a star player. Well the next season we tried a new league. I learned a Huge lesson and wished I hadn't done that. This new league left the game up to the coach. My son was rarely played and hardly received any praise. Ball hogs and pushing to get the ball was encouraged! It was all about winning. Now I am having trouble convincing my son to try playing again. I wish I had either pulled him out when I noticed he was getting upset about it or asked for him to be moved to a different team. It was really hard for him to understand why he was treated so differently on the second team. I have gotten him to agree to try again but I will be careful in which team I pick. I would try talking to the coach or the league. Ask around and see if you can find a "younger" coach pitch team for next season. That way the kids are closer in skill.