“We have standards”

Heard about this one a few weeks ago. It’s something that happened at a tournament, but it’s the kind of thing that drives me nuts — mostly because it’s the kind of thing that drives parents, coaches and players out of the game.

During the tournament, a 10U team with a first-year coach was playing one of their pool games. This team was part of the host program, so various people were going around checking progress and making sure everything was going ok overall.

One Board member, however — a guy who is a well-known blowhard and not particularly well-liked within his organization — showed up at the 10U game in his little golf cart. He looked into his program’s dugout and didn’t like what he saw. There was a bag of catcher’s gear that — gasp! — was the wrong color. The catcher has her own gear and keeps it in her own bag. But no matter — in the middle of the game he starts screaming at the poor coach that they need to get that bag out of there, it’s the wrong color, and of course “we have standards.”

Later, this same guy saw that the first base coach wasn’t wearing the right coach’s shirt. The first base coach was wearing the shirt of a different program, because he is head coach of his older daughter’s team in that program. But he was trying to help out the first year coach by doing what he could. Since both teams were in this tournament, and the tournament ran across a couple of different complexes, he was running back and forth, doing his best to help out. Again, the blowhard starts yelling about standards in front of everyone. I’m not sure if he was yelling at the head coach or the first base coach, but he made it known that he wasn’t happy about the lack of conformity to the “standards.”

Seems to me if you have standards, the first standard is you don’t go yelling at your volunteer coaches in front of the parents, players, umpires and opponents, especially about something so trivial. By doing that, you’re hurting their credibility, and their desire. In addition, it makes them spend their time worrying about stupid, meaningless crap instead of focusing on the game and the players.

I understand the principle of if you look good you play good. I preach it myself. But if there’s a problem, you wait until after the game, you take the coach aside and you explain what you want quietly and rationally. You don’t stand there during the game and berate him. That’s just someone with his ego out of control, thinking he’s the Big Man. Here’s the thing. The teams can play without a particular Board member. But they can’t play without players and coaches. If you make life miserable for volunteers, especially first-year coaches doing the best they can, you’re just going to drive them away. Then who will you show how important you are?

I know if I was that first base coach, helping out for the sake of the team, I’d probably say it’s not worth it. No, check that. Knowing me, and knowing a confrontation would result, I’d probably wear the “wrong” shirt again on purpose. When the blowhard came by and yelled again, I’d taken him out of earshot of everyone else and quietly tell him if he EVER speaks to me like that, especially in front of the team, he will spend the rest of the tournament trying to pick my New Balance shoe out of his John Brown hindparts because that’s how far up it’s going to go.

Again, if you have standards, fine. You enforce them quietly and invisibly. If you really feel you have to let everyone know you’re in charge, you’re not in charge of anything. You’re just a blowhard and a jerk.


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 June 12, 2009, in Coaching, General Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Anyone who has so little in his leadership toolbox that they have to immediately resort to public humiliation is no leader at all.


  2. You said in a few words what it took me several paragraphs to write. Well done!


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