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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2007 > Coach's Box - January 2007 > Permission to Volunteer

Permission to Volunteer


Volume 2, No. 1  

January 2007


Before you volunteer to coach in your local Little League, don’t forget to ask your child for permission!

A question Al and I are often asked at our coaching clinics is; “What is the best way to coach your son or daughter?"

Before I answer the question I think it is important to know the top three reasons parents step up to coach their kids in Little League Baseball and Softball:

  1. Some parents have experience playing baseball or softball, enjoy being with their kids and feel fairly confident they could coach a Little League team so they volunteer.
  2. Another group of parents know if the League President appoints them as the manager they automatically get to have their son or daughter on the team. These parents volunteer to be sure their son or daughter doesn’t end up on a team with a coach they think may not provide a positive experience.
  3. Sometimes the league is really short of volunteer coaches and if someone doesn’t step up there may not be a place for their son or daughter to play, so they volunteer.

These are solid reasons for stepping up to volunteer, but I think the first thing a parent should do is to sit down with their son or daughter and ask them for permission to be their coach.

Before each sport season, I always asked my son, Scott, and my daughters, Torey and Josie if it was OK for me to volunteer to be their coach.

If they said: “No Dad, thanks for asking, but why don’t you take this year off and just enjoy the season as a fan” - I would not have volunteered.

As it turned out they always said "yes", and were excited when I got selected to be their coach. I firmly believe asking their permission helped create a positive coach-player relationship from the start.

Alright, so now you are the coach and your child is one of your players. Here are a few tips I hope helps you and your son have a fun year together and at the same time takes the pressure off you with the other players and parents on your team.

  I encourage all of the players on the team to call me Coach or Coach AL including my son. This is just a nice way to remind Scott that when we are on field he gets to be a player just like the rest of players on the team.
  Don’t not play your son as a “favorite” or be extra tough on him, neither of these approaches work.
  Make sure you share the same expectations with all of the players on your team, no special expectations or rules for your child.
  During practices, provide coaching and instruction to your child through your assistant coach. Most of the time, your son will believe someone else knows way more about baseball than you, because you are just their dad. For example, you want to get your child to stop throwing sidearm and more over the top. Before the practice, tell your assistant what you would like him or her to say to your child during the practice. You will find this approach works great and on the way home your child will probably tell you what a great coach the assistant is and how he helped him or her learn how to throw more over the top. If your assistant coach has a child on the team he should tell you the instructional tips he wants you to share with him or her.
  Probably the most important thing for you to remember is that the league assigned you to be the coach only during practices and games. Just because your child is in the car with you on the way home from the game doesn’t mean you get to continue coaching. Most dad coaches like to give their child extra help, instruction, tips, all sorts of guidance, on the way home. Although I think most Dads mean well, this isn’t fair to their children. No other player on your team is exposed to over-coaching, just your child. In my own personal experience, it is hard to hold back so I gave the control of this discussion to my child. When I got into the car, I would ask Scott if it was OK to give him a few pointers from the game. If Scott said; “Sure Dad," I would go for it and if Scott said; “Not today Dad,” that was the end of it until the next practice or game. In some cases when he said, OK I would go on and on saying way too much, because I had so much that I wanted to tell him. In this case, I showed Scott a “T” sign he could make with his hands any time he wanted me to stop. When Scott made a “T” (timeout please, Dad) with his hands, I knew he had had enough for the day and I stopped coaching immediately.

The most important thing for you to remember during the season is that your boy or girl is your child first and a baseball player, second.

Your job is to make sure that what happens on the field or in the car on the way home strengthens your child-parent relationship. If for some reason, you start getting stressed about how your child is performing or behaving and you start saying things that you later regret, you should simply step away as the coach. Compromising the relationship you have with your child is the last thing you ever want to happen.

So, relax and have fun, and remember how great you felt when your child gave you permission to be his coach!

Big Al
For al and AL

Al Herback and Al Price, authors and instructors of the Little League Education Program authored this coaching tip. The training materials they have put together include hundreds of drills, competitions and fun activities. They also include progressions to help you teach the fundamental skills and guidance on how to plan practices for all levels of play. Please go to www.alandalbaseball.com for more information on the complete program library and to order your own set of training materials. To date, thousands of leagues and more than one million coaches, managers, players and parents have taken advantage of the training materials.

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