Many child and sports psychologists claim that we are facing a crisis in youth athletics. It's hard to disagree when you read stories of coaches fighting at youth game; a parent being accused of beating another parent to death after a hockey practice; an over involved parent who makes his child run home behind the car because he didn't perform well in a game. Two years ago in our Little League, the police had to be called to a game because a coach had threatened another coach before the game telling him he was go to take him out in the woods and beat him. In my years of coaching baseball, that's the most drastic incident locally that I'm aware of. Think of your own experiences as a coach or parent watching what occurs all the time in youth sporting events. I see on a regular basis parents who cannot keep their emotions in check and coaches who don't understand the negative influence they are having on their players.
You may or may not agree that there's a crisis, but it's hard not to admit that something's wrong. Statistics show that about 73 percent of children who participate in organized sports quit by the time their 13.
Well, it's the kids game of course. League administrators, coaches, and parents are making sacrifices of time and money to have their children involved in youth athletics. Most parents have the best intentions when supporting their children in an organized sport. The primary reason given by kids when asked why they play sports, is fun. So, if they play to have fun and parents are there to support them, then why is the dropout rate so extreme?
The goal of this section is to help raise awareness and remind coaches and parents of the difficulties involved in youth athletics. The emotions of watching your child play in a competitive environment can sometimes bring out the worst in all of us. How we deal with our role is something that each of us needs to consider and think about. I've developed a philosophy for coaching and for parenting my child. Keeping this philosophy in mind helps me approach emotional situations in a more consistent manner. I expect that this philosophy will change as my kids grow and I learn more about their needs and desires as they relate to athletics. My philosophy has changed over the last couple of years as I have become more aware of the traps that a parent and coach can easily fall into. I will convey my philosophy and approach in both the baseball coaching and parenting sections. I think first it's important to look at what kids are looking for when they participate in athletics.
Expectations of the Kids
So why is the pitch count information under the coaching baseball philosophy section of the web site? The reason it was placed here is the information is more than just a few statistics and guidelines. Baseball coaching involves many more aspects than just teaching skills. One aspect involves a commitment by you as a baseball coach to do your best to ensure the safety and health of your players. I've see many young players who never have a chance to play at higher levels because they damaged their arm when they were young. How important is any little league game really? Is it so important that you would take a chance on damaging the arm of your best pitcher? Most, if not all coaches, would answer that no youth game is that important. The problem is that in the heat of coaching baseball games, coaches often take that chance without even thinking about it. I hope that the pitch count information in this section will get you thinking about how you are going to handle your pitchers and make sure their arms are healthier when they leave you then when they started.