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Monday, November 1, 2010

Baseball Recruiting - Tips For the Baseball Parent (Part 1)

Baseball Recruiting - Tips For the Baseball Parent (Part 1)
By guest author: Mike Liberatore

Before I got into coaching high schoolers for the first time, plenty of my friends with coaching experience gave me plenty of horror stories about what it would be like dealing with the player's parents. Luckily, for the most part, the parents that I had were great. There were a few sporadic issues throughout the season, but nothing major. After coaching, I moved onto working in the field of college baseball recruiting, which a completely different level of dealing with high school baseball parents. Between the two experiences, I have certainly developed a solid list of do's and don't to help parents out with following their young athlete, and hopefully assisting him in advancing to the next level, whether it be as a collegiate student athlete, or even as a pro.

As a coach, I really only had one rule for the parents, and it was rule I stole from my high school coach who now coaches a DI in Florida. That rule was, "you can talk with me about anything except playing time. If playing time enters the conversation, the conversation is over." For some reason, when a player does not start or play an entire game or play their position of choice, a parent can twist this into the coach having an "agenda" against their child. That is almost never the case, especially the higher up you go. When coaches are paid to win games, they are trying to do just that. Sometimes a player may be in a slump, sometimes a coach plays a matchup, sometimes he may simply feel another player is better, but it is almost never because the coach doesn't like a given player or parent. Keep in mind that a good coach will communicate to his players why he makes a certain decision, and what they player can do to improve and get more playing time. Invariably, players understand these things better than the parents. Here are few other general principles to go by:

o Be seen and not heard - Especially at games. Cheering on the players is the best thing you can do. Yelling at a player, coach, or umpire is not going to have a positive impact. Don't coach every pitch from the stands. Players become distracted by what their parents are up to in the bleachers and it absolutely affects their play. Practices are the time for coaches to be vocal, games are for the players.

o Don't try to "pitch" your son to a high school or college coach -- It is extremely difficult, if not impossible to view your own son's play objectively. That is for the coach to do! If your son has talent, the coach will see it. That is what they are paid to do. Believe it or not, coaches see just about everything that happens on the practice or playing field and it doesn't take long to get a feel for a player's skill set.

o Coaches aren't perfect - Keep in mind, that coaches will make mistakes. I do realize that many coaches carry themselves as if they don't, but I can speak from experience and say I have mis-evaluated a player, especially early in the season. Some times a player simply improves, but sometimes he may have been better than the coach thought all along. Either way, coaches will usually correct their error and adjust the lineup accordingly. Even if they wont admit they were wrong, the lineup will show it.

o Be careful when you "angle yourself" in - Many parents volunteer their time to help with practices, concessions, scorekeeping, etc. Be sure that if you do this, you maintain the proper boundaries with the coach. Often times, parent that have additional responsibility feel it is acceptable to overstep and volunteer their input on how the team should be coached.

o Encourage and empower! - As much as a parent wants to help because they know best, whether it be on the playing field or in the recruiting process, the ultimate goal is to make the player self sufficient as a young man. If a player wants additional playing time, or wants to play a different position, he should simply go to the coach in private and ask what he needs to do to accomplish that goal. This will go miles longer than if it came from a parent. If a player shows the initiative to stay after a practice and do the extra work, coaches will reward the good example if possible so that it is seen by other players. You also want to empower your son when it comes to the college recruiting process (there will be following articles on this). Many parents feel this is their time to get more involved, however, a player is perfectly capable of initiating contact with college coaches by phone or email. Our website has detailed step-by-step instructions for them on how to do so. Coaches will seek out the parents when it is time.

In short, do your best to empower your son as a young man and high school athlete. Work with them to develop their skills, but don't be overbearing. Teach them to carry themselves with proper etiquette and work ethic, and when in doubt stay out of the coaches way. When I go to watch my relatives play, I find a spot as far away from everyone else as possible. I noticed parents of my more talented players did the same. If you'd like additional information, visit our website, blog or MySpace and Facebook Pages for continued updates. Check back regularly for guest content.

Mike Liberatore is a former college baseball player, AAU baseball coach, and owner/operator of

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1 comment:

Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick