What happens in the dugout, stays in the dugout.
And for coaches, the dugout serves as a safe place where kids can voice their opinions, and talk to the coaches WITHOUT the watchful eye of their parentals. Coaches are often put in the precarious position of taking heat from mom and dad in order to listen to the desires of their players – which believe it or not are often vastly on opposite ends of the spectrum.
In fact, most kids are pretty happy and satisfied with their situation, coaches and teammates – UNTIL they realize that their parents are not. Most kids are happy to show up, put on the uniform, play with their friends.
After many years spent in the dugout, we can say firsthand that many kids are torn between doing what their parents want them to do, and doing what they want to do on the field of play…. So often, you hear parents complain or speak for their kids, such as “My daughter wants more pitching time,” or “My daughter is unhappy because she wants to play 2nd base,” when the reality is that within the walls of the dugout – the player is singing a different song.
Kids want to please their parents. It’s a proven fact.And kids have an uncanny way of trying to weasle their parents opinions into the dugout conversation, with desperate eyes that scream “Please listen to me so I won’t have to listen to my parents complain!”
So what are coaches supposed to do when they have parents asking for one thing, and their players asking for or hinting at another???
- “I am not ready (or I don’t want) to pitch today!” Meanwhile, Sally’s mom is fuming, with literal fire coming out of her ears, because she spent $50 on pitching lessons this week, and her daughter is not seeing the circle. But when the coach asked Sally if she was ready, she firmly (albeit quietly, said NO) Or when the coach asked her if she wanted to pitch a few innings, she got that deer in the headlight terrified look on her face that screams, Oh God no! So coaches are left with two choices. Take the wrath of Sally’s mom, or respect Sally’s decision.
- “My dad thinks I should be playing shortstop instead of the outfield.” This is how kids typically breach the subject of positions when they know that their parents are not pleased with where they are playing. Forget THAT they are playing, or that they are in the lineup, and forget the fact that Lucy is the best outfielder on the team and saves games on a weekend basis, and forget the fact that there are 3 other kids who can play shortstop, but none that can play outfield as well as Lucy does. Dad wants her to play shortstop, and Lucy doesn’t want her dad to be pissed at her, nor does she want to listen to the recording of her dad complaining about the teammates that play short instead of Lucy, so she says “My dad thinks I should be playing shortstop” to let the coaches know that it would make her happy to make her dad happy if she could just get an inning or two at short so her dad would shut up about it!
- “Mama thinks I should be hitting at the top of the lineup“ Oh. Does she? Because there is obviously this massive misconception that the only parts of the lineup that matter are the 1-5 batters, and that everyone else are just unmeaningful names used to fill the position on the line up card…. Everybody wants to hit at the top of the line up and it doesn’t matter that this kid is hitting 7th, often as a second leadoff and doing a fabulous job at it. If she isn’t in the top of the lineup someone is not going to be happy.
- “I will sit out!” (Who said that? Is someone whispering?) We LOVE this one! You always have those girls that are the first to offer to sit out. Maybe it’s hot, or maybe they are tired, or maybe they just don’t wanna play and are perfectly happy cheering on their teammates from the bench. BUT…. as soon as the game starts you can bet your sweet butt that I will sit out’s kinfolk will breathing down the back of the dugouts neck asking their daughter they aren’t playing. And suddenly Ellie Sue turns into a liar and says, “I dont know” because she certainly is NOT going to admit that SHE is the one who asked, and offered to sit out. Next up, is a conversation where the parents complain about the money they are spending for their daughter not to play – and sometimes even a heated conversation with the coach, who typically will not tell Ellie Sue’s mom that her kid offered to, WANTED to sit out, because not only will the parents not believe them – but they also don’t want Ellie Sue to endure a long, wrath-filled ride home.
- “I dont feel good.” Hmmm. She doesn’t feel good. Again. Or her ankle hurts. Or her head hurts. Or her knee is still bothering her. Or she just doesn’t really want to even be there. Any way you look at it, “I don’t feel good,” means I don’t want to play right now, and what COACH in their right mind puts in a player (if they don’t have to) who doesn’t feel like playing to their 100%. The problem is that this kids biggest fans usually don’t know she doesn’t feel good.
- “Uncle Jack says I should bunt!” This type of comment comes in many forms, and basically equates to the fact that the kid was told by someone they trust, that they shouldn’t listen to what the coaches say during the game. It means the kid is going to pretend to miss a sign, or steal a base when they shouldn’t, or bunt when they should hit, or do something because they are being coached by their coaches – and their trusted loved ones. And then, when they get in trouble for it, Uncle Jack is furious and lets the coach know they are stupid. Because after all, EVERYONE can coach better than the COACHES!