When Committed Team Members Get Benched in Favor of “Pick-Up” Players…

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Editor’s Note: The featured image above is not directly related to this article. It’s just a really cute photo that I wanted to use somewhere. Oh, and here’s another spot-on post from our friend Rob Monaco.

rob monaco
Rob Monaco, Little League coach, commissioner and dad

A great coach doesn’t leave his players behind.

I’m a firm believer that a solid team isn’t built on trophies. It’s built on the time and passion a coach puts into his team. Let’s break it down… 12 boys on an 11U team should be offered the best possible opportunity to shine. If the talent isn’t 100% in all of them, a solid coach and a solid foundation can help get them there.

How many times have you heard about a team that plays together all season, the bond is solid, but come tournament time, the coach pulls in new kids for “reinforcements”? Those reinforcements end up playing the whole game, while the boys that put their time in, practiced, worked their tails off in league play, ride the pine. Let’s call that what it is; it’s bad coaching. It’s a coach thinking about trophies. It’s a coach probably thinking about a nice bonus from his employer. It’s a coach that doesn’t care about how hard his team worked in league play… he doesn’t trust his team. Let’s face it; ultimately he doesn’t trust himself for putting the work in with his team either.

And by the way, as a parent, you’re paying for that. So when that coach tells you, “I do what’s best for my team,” remind him that you pay his salary for that season and you sure as hell paid for that tournament too. You know, the tournament your kid didn’t plIMG_5337ay in?

Don’t get me wrong. As kids get older, the best team should be on the field. But let’s be honest; how “great” is an 11 year old? These are kids. Keep it real. This isn’t the Major Leagues. It’s learning and nurturing time. A good coach needs to take the time to mold, build up confidence, explain solid fundamentals and create an atmosphere of respect and character so when it comes to tournament play, he leads by example, respecting the same guys he has on his team in the first place.

Coach with passion. When you do, players find the same passion in themselves. Be a leader. When you do, a team follows. Build character, build confidence. If you do, there won’t ever be concern about who you put on the field, even in a critical moment. Find strengths in your players. If you do, kids will work in perfecting their role. Most importantly… trust your team. The greatest moments are often the ones from the player you least expect. But you’ll never know that if you don’t give them their shot.

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Angela Weight

Founder and publisher of Travel Ball Parents.com, Angela Weight is still a little shocked to be running one of the most popular youth sports parenting sites on the web. Click the ABOUT US tab to read her story.

6 thoughts on “When Committed Team Members Get Benched in Favor of “Pick-Up” Players…

  • March 5, 2018 at 8:12 pm
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    I have a friend looking for the website for baseball player pickup. Can anyone help me out. We live in Texas, his son is 14. Thank you

    Reply
  • February 1, 2016 at 3:06 am
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    This happened to my son 10 years ago and the coach was/is a very “respected” coach in the community. My son never played ball again.

    Reply
  • November 20, 2015 at 7:03 pm
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    Good article but the main reason I’m posting is that the photo you used has my grandson in it. He’s number 8. Lives and dies for baseball. 🙂

    Reply
  • November 20, 2015 at 6:29 pm
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    My opinions come from a recreation mentality. Being a coach for several years in both rec and competitive leagues, I have seen kids pushed aside because they weren’t good enough and never trained properly because coaches quite frankly don’t want to work, they just wanted champions. For kids as young as 6 and as old as 12, you need to develop, mold and encourage. These kids haven’t even hit puberty yet. After 13, start stacking your teams, play talented kids more than less talented. Before that though, all kids have a clean slate every season, but coaches need to work and train kids to get better. The biggest problem with certain coaches is that they’ve typecast kids because their town thinks certain kids are “superstars”. let’s face it, kid’s don’t actually bloom until their teen years.

    Let me also say, I’m a dad, but I always have played all the kids on my team, I made sure if they wanted to try a position, they were ready for that position and I also never benched a kid because they were terrible. That’s because if they were truly terrible, that would be my responsiblity as a coach. Coaching is a patience game, especially when these kids are not teenagers. It takes alot of work and I love every minute of it. -Rob

    Reply
  • November 20, 2015 at 4:30 pm
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    I coached girls fast pitch softball for years. I had a situation happen that another coach benched his regular girls that had made every practice and every game for the girls that had been off to college playing ball there. His excuse was well they are the better players. I called him out on it in front of his girls and the fans and parents. It was just not right to the girls that had been giving their all to be set aside like they had no worth.

    Reply
  • November 20, 2015 at 3:44 pm
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    This very thing happened to my son in 10U. To be honest, the coach was pretty unfair the whole year — he played his son and his friend’s sons over my son and another boy most of the year. I’m not saying my son was the top player, but he was 7th / 8th and was on the bench most of the year. For the final world series tournament the coach picked up another player for more pitching. Fair enough. He also told the parents directly, “I will not play this new kid over your kid. He will be on the bench unless he is pitching or one of the other kids needs to take a break.” (It was 105F that weekend.) In the very first game, he had him playing and my son and another were on the bench. Obviously, we left that team and have never looked back. The very best team we’ve been on had a coach who wasn’t a dad.

    Reply

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