Screaming doesn’t help

Heard about this one yesterday. It happened at a 14U game on Wednesday. A team with some girls I know (not part of our program, though) went to play a practice game against another team. Practice game, mind you.

According to the person who was there, the coach of the other team was a screamer. He said the coach was screaming at his girls pretty much from the time they hit the parking lot on.

Doesn’t seem like it did him much good. The team with the girls I know beat that team, and beat them pretty handily. From what I heard, the girls on the losing team didn’t have much fun either.

Once again I don’t get it. Why would parents sign their kids up to play with someone who thinks coaching is about beating your players into submission verbally? I’ve found as a general rule that the more the coach screams, the less he or she knows. Often those types of coaches bluster and blow to cover up the fact they are clueless. Some think they know the game, but it becomes pretty obvious that their knowledge is both limited and outdated.

There’s a big world out there. When it comes to travel softball you have a choice. If parents would simply opt out of teams like that, pretty soon those coaches who feel the need to scream won’t have teams and they’ll be rooted out of the game. And everyone will be the better for it — especially the players.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on April 18, 2009, in Coaching. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Ken,I have very little patience for screamers. I coach 10U and it amazes me the number of coaches I encounter that yell, humiliate, put down, or generally embarrass their kids when they mess up even at this young age. I refuse to yell at a kid. My “yelling” comes when we turn a double play, make a play at the plate, score 3 runs on a two-out rally, or get out of a tough inning. I talk to the players as individuals when they need direction. I take them aside and discuss what they did wrong. When I make mound visits and want to hug my pitcher when she has her chin on the ground. That sounds like a little drama, but our pitchers all take lessons & know the mechanics. At times, the problem lies between her ears…These kids are under so much pressure to perform at such a young age, its overwhelming for them at times. I have found that when I face a screamer, we have the advantage. They are one series of plays away from a meltdown. It’s like a wet blanket is thrown on the entire team. After games, I routinely point out all of the good points I can remember and use our mistakes as tools. I quiz them by asking what we should do next time. Mental errors only. I never point out physical errors. I also point out my mistakes and I tell them what I plan to do next time…We just played a team that was less developed that we are, and one of their batters, towards the bottom of the line-up, had a drop 3rd strike situation on a pass ball. She ran to first, and our catcher chased the ball. When the runner was about 5 ft from 1st she fell flat on her face. We got her out easily and got out of the inning. My team was laughing as they ran towards the dug-out and I stopped them. I felt our laughing was unsportsmanlike and quickly changed the tone by pointing out she tried her absolute hardest to get to 1st base. She fell because her body outran her feet. Her intensity caused her to fall & that is a mark of a good ballplayer. Softball can teach life lessons if you let it. Opportunities to learn pop up in every game.My team is pretty good. Not great, but solid. I think I am a pretty good coach, not great, but solid. (Sound familiar? ha) Every game is a learning experience for both them and me. I want my team to be a reflection of me. I take a lot of pride in my players. We win with grace, lose with pride and always learn something every game.Thanks for the enormous amount of time you spend to better our sport.

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  2. Rick Cartwright

    Coach Bryan, your comments and views are right on. I really don’t like screamers either, thee is no place for them espcially when working with kids. I know this isn’t softball but it really applies. I had a boss, some years ago (worked in a pressroom) where no matter what you did wrong, he could find something good in it. Always gave the good before the bad (this was in an era where pressroom bosses basically let you have it). I always appreciated the way he handled this. So one day I had a temporary worker taping boxes up to be filled at press. He spent hours on it, probably made 1000 of them and was obviously proud of this accomplishment. When I checked on him, I found that he had not only taped the bottoms, but did the tops also (they were empty). I thought about what my old boss Dan McCarthy would do, and told him he did a great job but we needed to fill them first. After we stopped laughing, we just worked to fix the problem – and it was appreciated. I try to take that into coaching, there isn’t a play, game, or moment that is more important than the person you are coaching. When I encounter a coach that is really bad, I mention it to the official first. If I am umpiring, I have no problem mentioning to the coach. And if that doesn’t help, then I inform him that if it doesn’t stop, he will be on his way for USC.

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  3. Thanks Rick, I like your statement, “there isn’t a play, game, or moment that is more important than the person you are coaching.”The kids really respond to encouragement…I was told the best way to point out a kids mistake is by “sandwiching” it between two positives. For example on a grounder, “that was a great stop, you got in front of the ball perfectly. But, you pulled your head and opened yourself up to injury. Next time keep your head down and watch the ball go into your glove. And by the way, that was a great throw to first, nice form. Instead of shouting, “Keep your head down!” Good luck this year, Rick.

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  4. RIck Cartwright

    INterestinglt, we just played a game this weekend where the parent’s were the screamers. Supportive and noisy of their kids when things were good, quiet or making poor comments about our team when things were bad. I heard there were a few directed at me but I am very focused on the game and never hear anything outside of the diamond – not that it would really bother me anyway. The coaches of this team were good, didn’t scream, made changes in a supportive way. This was pool play and I am always amazed that parent’s can be such poor role models to all around, not only to their own children, but any team within hollerin’ range. We groan at a call and cheer for the team but never attack the other team. If any team members are reading this, as a coach for children, I couldn’t have a better, more supportive, and all around great parents on our team, Thank you. I typically address the issue of keeping the focus in the field, but I am going to sddress this potential problem, I do think it did get to a few of the girls looking back in retrospect.

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  5. RIck Cartwright

    Interestinglt, we just played a game this weekend where the parent’s were the screamers. Supportive and noisy of their kids when things were good, quiet or making poor comments about our team when things were bad. I heard there were a few directed at me but I am very focused on the game and never hear anything outside of the diamond – not that it would really bother me anyway. The coaches of this team were good, didn’t scream, made changes in a supportive way. This was pool play and I am always amazed that parent’s can be such poor role models to all around, not only to their own children, but any team within hollerin’ range. We groan at a call and cheer for the team but never attack the other team. If any team members are reading this, as a coach for children, I couldn’t have a better, more supportive, and all around great parents on our team, Thank you. I typically address the issue of keeping the focus in the field, but I am going to sddress this potential problem, I do think it did get to a few of the girls looking back in retrospect.

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  6. Don’t those parents know it’s not their job to yell at the other team’s parents? It’s their job to sit on the sidelines and second guess the coach on all decisions. 🙂 Seriously, it’s a shame that parents seem to take things so seriously. I think a lot are afraid their children will crumble if they fail or lose. They won’t. Hal Skinner has a great article on his Web site that says the parents’ job is to sit and cheer for their kids. More people should remember that. Glad your parents do.

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  7. You sound like a great coach, Rick. I too cringe at the talk on the sidelines…One parent told their 3rd baseman to drill me in the head the next time I failed to move out of the way on an overthrow to 3rd base…Nice. Another figured out my signs and thought he was cute yelling my intentions for every one of my batters. Just because you know we are bunting doesn’t mean you can field it! So now I must here-by formally apologize for run-ruling both of those teams :)Seriously, when you are up the other team’s parents can get mean. When you are down, your’s can turn on you.By the way, we had an awesome weekend. Tournament play was rained out, but we went 4-0 in pool play, scored 49 runs and only gave up 4…Baserunners were aggressive to say the least.Watch next weekend we’ll get smoked and my parents will question my ability! Just another weekend at the ballpark!

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