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How to Handle Playing Time Problems using the WWLS Method – Part 1

By: Cindy Bristow

This is a fairly long article so I’m going to do it in 2 parts, here’s Part 1: Playing time always seems to be an issue – for players, parent and coaches. Having a problem with it is one thing but knowing how to handle it is entirely different. Gain some valuable insight into the issue of playing time, and what you can do to change it.


Fastpitch softball Free article on softball playing time

Nobody likes to sit the bench, but let’s face it, unless your team only has 9 players somebody’s got to sit. It’s those “somebody’s” that can make or break your team, so discover a positive method to handle a lack of playing time.

This whole issue of playing time has started coming up more and more. I’ve been getting bombarded lately with questions by parents, players and coaches asking me how to deal with certain issues that usually come down to playing time – or lack of it, or some decision a has coach made surrounding playing time.

Players write me wanting to know how to improve their playing time, parents write me complaining about coaches not playing their daughters enough, and coaches write me wanting to know how to help kids that don’t play a lot stay involved with the team.

See if you’ve heard any of these statements around the ballpark when it comes to the issue of playing time:

  • It’s a conspiracy
  • The coach is killing her chances to play college ball
  • The coach doesn’t like her
  • She’s playing favorites!

I’ve been a coach who’s had to make some tough playing time decisions, and I’ve been a player who’s sat the bench, so I know both sides. No coach is trying to purposefully stop players from playing in order to be mean; they’re simply trying to put the strongest players into their lineup that will give their team the greatest chance of winning. It’s a very tough position to be in as today’s parent is much more verbal in their disagreement than parents of the past. So coaches are criticized more often, more openly and more harshly than ever.

And yet from the player’s point of view, if you don’t get to play how are you supposed to get better? I understand that argument and realize it’s packed with emotion since the player is far more emotionally attached to her own playing time than the coach is.

So many playing time issues rear their head for the first time either during high school or college softball. Before we look at things we can do to better handle the amount of playing time we’re getting, or our daughter is getting, let’s first look at 4 reasons why I think so many issues with playing time happen during schoolball (high school or college):

  1. 4 Year Age Group – Since travelball is split up into 2 year age groups players are usually grouped with other players very similar in age, size and skill level. Sure, some players play up but for the most part players are within a two year age span. While you’ll see some differences within a 2 year age group, the talent, size, strength and speed differences aren’t nearly what they are when you put kids into 4 year age groups. Now suddenly, that 14 year old high school freshman, if she plays varsity, is competing against an 18 year old senior – and that’s a HUGE difference! And in college you’ll have an 18 year old freshman competing against a 22 year old senior – of course that freshman won’t have the success she had during 18 U Gold Travelball when she was the oldest and probably fastest, strongest and best player on the team. Once the age, speed, size and strength ranges go from 2 years up to 4 years your ability to contribute at the younger age level gets way tougher.
  2. Winning Matters – In both high school and college, winning matters. There are no more “showcases” where simply showing your talent is the objective and winning is only something you consider on Sunday. Now suddenly winning matters every game, so the coach is now faced with putting the players on the field that give the team the greatest chance of winning that game. This one simple thing impacts who plays and who doesn’t more than anything else. It’s no longer about making sure everyone gets a chance to play, it’s now about making sure the team has the best chance of winning. And, if you think this sounds harsh just think back to the last time your team had a losing record. That’s something that nobody wants or likes and you’d do almost anything to change it. Well the coach has the ability to try and change that on the front end by playing the players he or she feels gives them the strongest team.
  3. Old Methods Don’t Work – While in most cases, high school or college isn’t the first time a player is faced with unsatisfactory playing time (this also means not playing the position you think you should play), the way that most people in traveball seem to handle this issue is to change teams. In fact it’s not uncommon for some players to change teams 2-3 times a season! Don’t like the playing time or position you’re getting on this team, then simply find another team. And while that might seem like a good solution for travelball, it won’t work for high school or college. Sure, you can try and change high schools or even colleges, but it’s MUCH harder to do and carries with it much stiffer penalties – players often must sit out an entire season in order to be eligible. So the method you had for handling playing time issues in the past suddenly won’t work when you get to high school or college.

This whole issue of playing time is really tricky and it’s something I’ve really debated writing about for some time. I know an article on it will be helpful and yet my purpose isn’t to lecture everyone or make people mad. While it might seem like both end up happening please know it’s certainly not my intent going in.

I think the best way to approach my advice on how to handle playing time issues, and I realize a VERY different approach, is to use the point of view of my Mom – Liz. I’m going to angle in by letting you know What Would Liz Say, or WWLS. Liz, my Mom, was and still is a fantastic Mom who raised 5 great kids. But, she was also tough as nails. She grew up on a farm in Southern California during the depression, lived through WWII, lost 2 brothers in the Korean War, enlisted in the Air Force, served in North Africa, had 5 kids via natural child birth, and since my Dad was a career Air Force Officer and was stationed all over the world, Mom raised all 5 of us largely by herself.

Anybody who knows my Mom knows she can tell a great story, and while I’ve heard some amazing tales I have NEVER heard my Mom complain! She wouldn’t do it herself and wouldn’t let us do it either! She taught us the power of family, as all 5 of us kids still talk to each other almost every week, and yet she had this amazing ability to see life objectively. Of course, as a kid growing up I wanted to slant everything in life my way so the whole “objectivity thing” was a VERY annoying quality for me! But, I’ve since learned how important Mom’s point of view has become for me and how much I rely upon it daily.

So it’s Liz’s perspective and objectivity that I will use to help deal with the issue of playing time. Growing up, whenever one of us didn’t get our way we’d always resort to the “it’s not fair” line. I can still hear Liz’s response: “Fair, Smair. Life isn’t supposed to be fair Cindy. If you don’t like it then you’ve got to work to change it” (she loved to rhyme things even when it involved making up words). Of course this wasn’t the answer I was looking for – I wanted to find agreement to my particular point of view. – so off I’d go grumbling to myself about how unfair my whole life was. You know the story.

Eventually what I learned was that I wasn’t going to find a willing ear in my Mom to all my pathetic “the world is out to get me” rants. I’d of course try them on one of my brothers or sisters who had problems of their own so they ignored me. Since complaints really need an audience to survive, and mine could never get any traction I quit complaining. Because of my Mom’s consistent responses I was able to guess what Liz’s answer was going to be so I eventually bypassed the complaining approach and went straight to the solution. Of course at the time, I was not going to admit that it worked much better to handle things that way, but as an adult, there’s NO DOUBT it’s helped get me wherever it is I am.

So, let’s look at what Liz said to me the one time I came to her complaining that I wasn’t getting to play as much as I thought I should, and the lessons she taught all of us on how to handle situations that we didn’t like:

  1. A Matter of Perspective
    1. Coaches want what’s best for the team first and what’s best for you as a player second. Mom compared a coach’s perspective to their team to that of our family. She said that parents think of the family first and the individual kids second. Sure, she loved and adored every single one of us but her first concern was always the entire family first and each one of us second. From a softball point of view that doesn’t mean that coaches don’t like and care about each player, they do, it simply means that a coaches priority has to be team first and individual players second.
    2. Conversely, Players want what’s best for themselves first and what’s best for the team second. The issue of playing time to a player is a lot like being one of the kids in a multi-kid family. I was 1 of 5 kids so I always thought my Mom liked one of my brothers or sisters better since from my perspective it was “obvious” she did. Translation – I wasn’t getting my way in that particular situation so that skewed my conclusion. As a player, our view of playing time is always skewed since we see the whole situation as it pertains to us first, and as it impacts the team second.
      Lesson – A playing time issue always has 2 perspectives; The coach thinks about the team first, players second – while the players think about themselves first and team second.

  2. Ownership
    1. This is by far the biggest playing time lesson of all! When I complained to Liz that I wasn’t playing enough, Mom’s exact words were, “well Cindy that just means you need to practice more since (coach) obviously doesn’t think you’re good enough to play right now.” Of course I shot back with something like, but you’re supposed to be on my side, at which point she said, “Cindy, I’m always on your side, but that doesn’t mean the coach is wrong.” Her ability to make me own the situation by telling me that the problem was me and not the coach was invaluable to me! I didn’t want to hear it but I needed to hear it!
      Lesson – Take ownership of your playing time issue & consider that the issue might be you instead of always thinking the coach is wrong.
  3. Work to Change What you Don’t Like –
    1. Liz taught all of us that we could be a power for change, that If we didn’t like something then we should work to change it. Instead of complaining about it, we should work to change it. This approach helped me pick my battles since some things aren’t really worth the effort to change them. Just because I didn’t like something didn’t mean I didn’t like it enough to put the work in to change it, so I learned that these were the situations where I’d I just shut my mouth. Complaining about a situation was NOT the same was working to change it, and complaining about anything was NEVER an option with Liz (still isn’t!). Complaining is like a poison – it can make you and everyone around you sick. As a player, don’t do it and as an adult, don’t let your players or daughter do it.
      Lesson – If you don’t like the amount of playing time you have then work to change it – with your actions not your mouth.
  4. It Must Be You!
    1. This message is basically the essence of #3 – the problem with playing time isn’t a coaching problem, it’s a You problem. Liz taught all of us that we weren’t going to fix the coach so that meant we had to improve ourselves. It wasn’t even an option that the problem might be the coach. The message was always that it must be me, which by the way was very empowering since I have power over me, and I don’t have power over the coach. Occasionally the problem is the other person as if you’re looking through a window, but most of the time the problem is YOU, as if you’re looking at a mirror. When it comes to playing time, always assume it’s a mirror you’re looking at.
      Lesson – When it comes to playing time accept that there are parts of your game that you can improve and you’re on your way to increasing your playing time.
  5. What Are You Going to Do About It?
    1. Liz’s fallback response to anything we were complaining or gripping about was, “So Cindy, what are you going to do about it?” It’s along the same lines as #4 above and implies that you’re going to take some action. You’re going to have to take your issue past the point of frustration and get a plan of action. Chart a course to start to correct whatever the problem is – in this case playing time – and get after it. When Liz asked me what I was going to do about not playing as much as I wanted to it really made me think about why I wasn’t playing and helped me realized it was because I wasn’t strong enough or good enough. So, every morning for the next year I got up at 5:30am and ran 3 miles, then pitched for 30 minutes to my brother before going to school. When I went back to play on my team that summer, it was a whole different story because I was a whole different player. I’d actually done something about it and felt the increase in confidence, pride and ability that comes with personal accomplishment and sacrifice. Liz didn’t make me get up and do all that, it was my idea and my passion. She simply helped me think about what I was going to do to change the situation.
      Lesson – Take action to change the situation that you’re not happy with. If you want to play more then be specific about how you’re going to change your current skills in order to change your playing time.
  6. In Part 2 we’ll discuss how to approach a coach about playing time in addition to 5 more keys.

    For more help with this topic check out the following:


    Read Part 2 of How to Handle Playing Time Problems using the WWLS Method

47 Comments »

  1. Of course I agree with most of this. I’ve coached travel baseball and softball for much of the last 14 years, softball exclusively for the past 8 years. I played in college on a full athletic scholarship at an NCAA II school so I know a thing or two about competing and proving yourself.

    The issue that I have with your article is that you don’t even address the point that the coach may be wrong…..may have an incorrect perception of a player….that a player may in fact be better and have worked their butt off and may have physically proved they are better…..yet becasue of coaching paradigm’s, incompetence particularily at the HS level (lets face, many high school coaches simply do NOT know the game or know how to coach elite athletes).

    You also run into a lot of politics, particularily at the HS level with coaches pandering to siblings…..I call it the legacy factor….becasue Susy was a fantastic ball player….her younger sister must be…..and of course there are times this is true…..but not always…..or even things like the coach who may be older than dirt had Susy’s mom in his Gym glass 20+ years ago or financial stuff…..like “so and so’s family runs concessions at the games” and makes $400 dollars for the team. The reality is that factors like these, particularily at the HS level are VERY difficult to overcome.

    So yes, a good dose of self examination is critical…..am I doing all I can do to make myself as good as I can? Do I have a positive attitude at all times, work my butt off, positively ask the coach for opportunites to show what I can do and then come through under pressure? Being a great positive force for change on the team in practice and games, taking advantage of any and every opportunity that comes my way……this is all great advice. However the reality is, that there are in fact situations where this simply doesn’t work and there’s likely not much a player can do about it except wait for summer, wait for college or wait her turn if there’s time. Ultimately life is not always fair….you usually eventually get rewarded for your effort, your skill and your talent, but sometimes you have to wait a heck of a lot longer than you’d like to becuase of an injustice. It does happen and it should be acknowledged.

    Comment by Eric Liewergen — March 6, 2012 @ 7:20 am

  2. Amen! what a great article.

    P.S. I’m a HS head coach if you couldn’t tell.

    Comment by Cameron — March 6, 2012 @ 7:26 am

  3. Cindy, Great stuff as usual. This is the reason I like it when teams dont print names on the back of their jerseys…..It tells the kids that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back!

    Comment by Mike Bertisch — March 6, 2012 @ 7:43 am

  4. Can’t wait for part two

    Comment by Steve hill — March 6, 2012 @ 9:03 am

  5. I have read through your 5 playing time items and agree with what is said but here is a situation my daughter was dealing with. This last high school season she received very little playing time. According to assistant coaches, her team mates, and other parents that watched practices, she was the hardest worker on the team. According to assistant coaches, they recommended to the head coach she get more playing time and they were ignored by the head coach. My daughter talked with the head coach and had no results. I stayed in the background and tried to just advise her in the best course of action for her to take, trying to give her the ownership of the situation.I advised her to keep giving everything she had in practice and try to make every opportunity when she did happen to get into a game. I also advised her to keep asking coaches what she needs to improve upon and if they could help her. What advise can you give in dealing with that kind of situation?

    Comment by Greg Russ — March 6, 2012 @ 9:19 am

  6. Very insightful, can’t wait for part 2.

    Comment by JC Carroll — March 6, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  7. Great article and is right on!! It amazes me how some of the non dedicated
    Players feel they should play over a player that has tremendous work ethic and
    Always puts the Team first.
    The worst thing a parent can do is tell their daughter they are better then they are! Stick with honesty is the best policy and your daughter will be starting before long!!

    Comment by Joe M. — March 6, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  8. Of all the articles you’ve written Cindy, this one is my new favorite! As a coach I am occasionally bombarded with player and parent questions about playing time and never do they consider that I am putting the best players on the field that can help me win, and that they have more work to do to get more playing time. I don’t know when or where the feeling of entitlement came into play, but every season I see more and more players and families come to my 16U travel & high school teams with the expectation that their Susie should be a starter or a varsity player, and have no intention to work to get the position. Can’t wait for Part 2!

    Comment by Norm Kujawa — March 6, 2012 @ 10:37 am

  9. yep. Though we did have the discussion Liz/Betty/Sue. going on to part 2.

    Comment by Leslie — March 6, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  10. Cindy,

    As always you nailed it. Looking forward to part two. Hope you had a great trip!!!!!

    Comment by Jerry Nygren — March 6, 2012 @ 11:19 am

  11. The best article I have ever read pertaining to softball…..
    there is absolutely nothing else to say, you covered it all very well. thanks

    Comment by Chuck Goodwin — March 6, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  12. Cindy your amazing, I’ve know you for over 20 years, you always come up with the right view on most anything at the right time.

    Great Article. I need the 2nd half soon, can’t wait.

    Regards

    Harold

    Comment by Harold — March 6, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  13. Totally agree with #1. I have coached 20+ younger teams in the last 10 yrs and have only had Problems with 2 parents, because I am honest with the player/parents of their childs role on the teams. Most problems are caused by Coaches with hidden agendas who deceieve players to keep them on – just in case. Players don’t know they have been duped until it is too late. Parents then become very angry, because of the disrespectful way that their child was treated by this so called adult. Trouble always follows these coaches and there are many, many out there.

    Sincerely
    Mart

    Comment by Mart — March 6, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  14. Love the article, learned a lot from it. BUT I do see Eric’s point. My girl is just starting school ball and I see so many “politics” that it is hard to miss. I had the thought that when she got to School Softball now we can relax and have some fun. It has been nothing but! The coaches are great and have the drive to win and I can see the Family thing. But the coaches only see these girls for a few hours a day and we have known them for years on rec and club ball and we know what everyone can do from watching them grow from T Ball up to High School. We hold our thoughts, tell her to practice harder so the coach will notice her. But when the coaches put in the girls that are just plain “crybabies” and demand to play. Over our girls that have worked hard to get where they are it is hard to set back and watch.
    Good article I will take a lot from it and pass it on. But as you said Life is not Fair! And some Coaches are not Fair.

    Comment by Marie — March 6, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  15. I thought the points of the article were right on target. Taking responsibility for your playing situation only serves to empower you. Anything else becomes an excuse that serves no purpose in helping you become a better player. Why don’t we blame the umpire for every missed call? Why don’t we blame our youth leagues for not preparing us to be a player that gets more playing time when we get to HS or College. The point is there will always be more than enough blame to go around for situations we are not happy with. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR GAME! Nothing is more rewarding.

    Also a point to Eric. Div. II does not give full athletic scholarships.

    Comment by Brian Rheault — March 6, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  16. To Eric – I too have coached travel softball, my teams have varied from 14U-18U. Having played competitive fastpitch softball my whole life; State tournament bound every year HS, Gold ball during the summer and eventually @ the collegiate level Div 1. I now coach @ the HS level and couldn’t help but be offended by your comments “yet becasue of coaching paradigm’s, incompetence particularly at the HS level (lets face, many high school coaches simply do NOT know the game or know how to coach elite athletes).” and your other comment “The reality is that factors like these, particularily at the HS level are VERY difficult to overcome.”

    Sure, I think it’s safe to say there are coaches that are less experienced, strongly encouraged to coach a specific sport even if he/she doesn’t want to or maybe even decided to coach a sport because no one else wanted the job. So ya, this wouldn’t be the best set up for that team. But to direct your comments at HS coaches? This to me shows some ignorance on your part. I have been involved in this sport for so many years, in many different areas of the country and have come across more great coaches than I have bad ones.

    When growing up I had many coaches that were player’s dad/mom, some old man that use to coach baseball, etc. When I reached 14U my parents saw talent, that I loved to play and fortunately for me they spent the money for me to play travel ball. From there on out I played under the elite coaches and teams, and learned so much from each coach, both good and bad. Now having coached myself, I can honestly say that at my HS I put the group of kids on the field that are going to win that ballgame. Winning at all cost is not the attitude I take though, my kids first make the grades and follow our code of conduct. They are expected to attend all practices and work hard while they are there. Of the ones that do all of this, I then choose my best 9 to start. They must work to keep it though, It’s not a guarantee, I have several kids on a daily basis that work on their own after practice to be better, because they know I play the best. You must put in alot to expect alot!

    I think an important point to make is that not every kid has the athleticism and/or tool set needed to get that starting position, so ‘yes mom/dad, I see her working hard and she is improving, but she’s just not better than the kid in front of her yet’. As nice as you can possibly put that to parents, it’s still a hard pill to swallow. I find it’s easier to blame the coach than maybe to admit that their child may not be good enough.

    I have lost friends of mine because I did not play their child,I had a dad stop volunteering working on the field because his child wasn’t getting PT, he just couldn’t understand why his freshman daughter, second string catcher on JV wasn’t seeing varsity playing time? Really? It’s all worth it though! I have developed a competitive HS team, before they had no respect from opponents. Not only have I earn the respect of my girls but it also forces them to take an honest and realistic view of their personal skills and abilities. Those kids know who’s better than who, they know why they aren’t getting that starting position, it’s usually the parents that are wearing the ‘rose color glasses’. I find that putting your best 9 on the field, in the position that best fits your team personnel will give you the best opportunity to win! That’s what matters to HS coaches. Outside of high school and college ball, you pay to play, and then everyone wonders why parents feel they have the right to argue PT and demand which position their kid plays?

    Love your article Cindy! Think you put travel ball and HS ball in perspective. You make very valid points about working hard and getting real with yourself as an athlete, the kids who do this get quicker results!! I now have 4yr boy, having 2 parents that coach he has become a ball field rat! I hope to be a ‘Liz’ parent. I want him to do what makes him happy, not me. Work hard to be his best, be coachable and learn to take ownership. He will not always have that great coach but will need to learn and grow from that experience because when ball is over and he goes to work he won’t always have a great boss either…

    Comment by Jennifer — March 6, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

  17. First off, I applaud you taking on this dicey subject Cindy, it’s always at the forefront and is very rarely addressed in training for coaches, whether at seminars or in print. I am eager to read the second part as well. I do think “Eric” has some prudent points that I am anxious to see if they are addressed in part two. Additionally, to “Jennifer,” I think you also have hit on several key points, however, I would submit that you have two distinct advantages that a great many other high school coaches do not:” 1) you played the game at the highest level, and 2) as such, you are networked in with others that have the same approach and experiences. That is an outstanding thing to have, yet it is naive to think that most HS coaches enjoy the same level of experience and committment that you do. I have coached at a myriad of levels in both baseball and softball for over 25 years, and I played baseball at a high level for 14 years prior to that, and in all that time, I have found the MAJORITY, though certainly not all, HS coaches to be lacking that which you have been blessed with.

    I can paint for you a litany of HS coaches who have absolutely shattered players who have played for three seasons in their program only to get cut in their senior year, leaving quite a gapping “hole” in their collegiate resume. For ANYONE to suggest their is not a seedy political element to alot of HS coaching, though again I caution not ALL, is to be simply either blind to to facts or a party to such. College coaches have this to some extent, but extremely less frequent than at the HS level because to attain a College coaching job requires the sort of resume that HS coaches simply do not have to possess. I say this as someone who has had to deal with many playing time complaints from parents who, indeed Jennifer, are looking through rose colored glasses it relates to their son or daughter. I have coached exclusively softball for the past 9 years and you are correct Jennifer when you state that in the travel setting, the parents pay to have their daughter play and they feel more entitled to question coaches under the quise of the fact that they are paying fo their daughter to play, not sit. The thing is however, this happens in HS too, and college for that matter when you consider the athletic booster donations and the power they wield.

    It’s a polarizing subject to be sure, and again Cindy, I am glad you are addressing it and am eager to read the next installment.

    Thank you!

    Comment by Scott — March 7, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  18. I didn’t mean to cause any issues, I just thought that it was appropriate to represent a different view. At some point above, I was called a liar. I played tennis for Bellarmine University and I graduated there in 1987. We had a nationally ranked tennis program. I attended on a FULL athletic scholarship. I signed multiple letters of intent. I was nationally ranked in the 18s, I played multiple pro tournaments after I graduated (where I played #1 singles and #1 doubles), I was an academic all american, an all conference performer and taught tennis professionally for many years…..and again, I absolutely, positiively had a FULL ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIP.

    Haveing coached travel baseball and travel softball for a total of 14 years…….I know that OFTEN the player over-estimates her skill level….I know for CERTAIN that OFTEN the parents OVER estimate the players skill level…..the advice is right on.

    However….I’m sorry to say that there are indeed a WIDE variety of situaitons that exist….particularily at the HS level where a player does NOT get a fair shake and/or evaluation based on factors I discussed above and more that I did not care to write about but would be happy to discuss. My only point was wanting to acknowldege the fact that sometimes…….there are situations that players get faced with that are not fair. Not EVERY HS coach is a perfect judge of talent or operates with a complete honest and OBJECTIVE set of motivations.

    Comment by Eric Liewegen — March 8, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  19. TO #16

    My intent was not to offend anyone. The point really is, thought, that even in your response to me…..you acknowledge “that its safe to say that there coaches who are less experienced” and “this wouldn’t be the best set-up for that team” means that you know there are players/families out there in a bad situation. I did not call out ALL HS coaches….I started my post by stating that I agree with most of this….and say my only criticism is that it doesn’t address that a coach MAY be wrong…….A coach MAY be wrong…….

    I would say that based on the experience you lay out…..that you have a LOT more experience and insight than the VAST majority of HS coaches out there coaching girls fastpitch softball. I believe MOST college coaches spend more time recruiting and looking at players travel backgrounds….than they ever look at their HS backgrounds…..for a variety of reasons……talent levels vs. competition are very diverse for example. The bottom line is that there is subjectivity involved in playing time decisions and just becasue someone is in the position of “Coach” does not make them incapable of making an error or incapable of acting inappropriately.

    Comment by Eric Liewegen — March 8, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  20. Just watched a Southern California travel team play and get beat badly, saw some good players I knew of from past games riding the pine (I am not related to the team or age group in any way). I asked the coach how come he did not play these girls? He said he is playing the girls who are going to be on his High school team; because he needed them to get better – High School season is starting up. He never told the travel team he would do this when they formed….Hhmmmm

    Comment by Mart — March 9, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  21. Eric – you are still approaching this as though life is fair. It isn’t always fair. Therefore you do what you can by looking inward, make any needed changes, work even harder with the best attitude you can and await the results in peace. Oh and news flash – the vast majority of these kids are not going to play ball in college. Every 8 year old may get a medal, but every 18 year old will not.

    Comment by subaru — March 9, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

  22. To eric,
    It is people like you that give HS coaches like us a bad name. In HS, it is about the wins. If you don’t win, you don’t make playoffs. if you don’t make playoffs, your program never builds pride. Without pride, your program is shallow. There is very little pride in HS softball today because of the overwhelming needs by parents and players to play with a certain club all year long and pay thousands of dollars every year and in some cases borrowing thousands of dollars to play and get lessons, etc…

    I coach in Colorado, I get girls that have played 60-80 games in the summer and then they have to come out in the fall and play another 20 games. they have played enough softball and they are tired of playing. much less tired of practicing 2 hours a day during HS softball. So when it comes time to compete in playoffs, we get our clocks cleaned because the players are “burnt out”. Club teams have done a great job of killing high school programs and it is really sad. I have kids that are more interested in winning a weekly tournament in summer ball then I have kids wanting to win a state championship. something is inherently wrong with that.

    It is not easy to coach HS ball especially with the politics involved, but please do not imply as you have that many HS coaches have no business coaching. When you generalize, you make assumptions that you have no clue about. I take great offense to what you have said, because I work hard for my program and put in a lot of time that most club teams would never even think about putting in. Everything I do is to better my program Yet, I get the shaft because I am a high school coach who is restricted by law and has to rely on limited resources to make his program better. I can’t give my kids 14 tournaments, 3 uniforms, and take them to 5 different states. Why is it that summer coaches can recruit my kids to play, but I can’t recruit their kids to play?…regardless, I do not think it is right that you judge me because I am a high school softball coach. There are many amenities that club teams allow their players, I get that, i really do. My problem is how do I compete with that, or can I even compete with that?

    Comment by Brandin Becher — March 13, 2012 @ 12:22 am

  23. WOW….a lot of anger there towards travel ball.

    As a travel ball coach…and I have been doing it for 10 years….I put in an amazing amount of time…all unpaid. We have the girls 9 months out of the year….practice 3-4 times a week in season and twice a week out of season. The various HS coaches and now college coaches that my girls play for get a great benefit in how well our girls are trained. I for one stress the importance of playing for the HS and for getting ready for that season. Most of my girls either are playing in college or will play in college next year. That is really the ultimate goal and the travel teams play a big part in that. As an educator….I would think you’d applaud the work of getting young ladies the opportunity to compete in college. My daughter and several of the girls that I coach in summer have been to the state play-offs in high school several times and I can tell you that they take great pride in that.

    I will say it again…..the only point that I was making with respect to playing time was that coaches (HS, Travel, and College) can make mistakes……..and there are times that there are reasons for these decisions that are not totally on the up and up. It happens at all levels. I know life is not fair and all a girl or family can do is work hard and hope to eventually be rewarded……I just wanted to point out that SOMETIMES coaches are wrong. Heck, I’ve been wrong.

    Comment by eric — March 13, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  24. Eric,
    Point well taken. I do apologize for my “soap box” behavior. Although I have been burned and taken advantage of by club teams and coaches through my HS players, I do believe that our program competes every year because of the club experiences my girls bring to the field. I do realize that club teams allow my girls to be better for us in the HS season. I just get anxious and/or dissapointed sometimes when my HS kids are not as excited and committed to HS softball as they are to club softball. Could you offer up some advice for me to help bridge the gap between HS softball and club softball. How can I get my kids excited to compete and win and goto to regional and state play with great attitude and energizrd performances to get us over the hump of burnout because they have played and practiced so many sessions and games already. Thank you!

    Comment by Brandin — March 14, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  25. its the old travel v high school argument. i have that problem every year. parents complaining about their kids playing time. what i have found is the kids are ok, but the parents are not. just remember this little idea. “let the kids play, let the coaches coach, let the referees ref, let the parents cheer and we will all have FUN.” that has what has been taken out of it for coaches. if we told the parents the fact that there child is not as good as the one in front of her in the batting order or position, we would be in front of the school board. life is not fair and neither is playing time. i always tell my parents at the end of one of these conversations if your not happy have your daughter turn in her uniform. no hard feelings.

    Comment by mike — March 15, 2012 @ 11:33 am

  26. Great article!!! Above all things the coach has to be honest with the player and parent. I have coached at both the travel ball and HS level. Travel ball is easy you search out for wgat you want and cut want you don’t. HS you have to deal with what you have. Be honest from the start and most problems go away. Most girls get it once you take the time and talk to them. Parents it may take a few talks but they will get it just be hon est!!!

    Comment by matt — March 20, 2012 @ 8:47 am

  27. “Life is not fair” is a cop out,”My way or the highway” is bad coaching. I hope the kids do not use these values on their employees when they become managers, nothing will get done. no hard feelings.

    Comment by Mart — March 20, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  28. One thing is not being talked about here is when one or more of the players is coaches’ daughters. One team I now of this year where the shortstop drops or mishandles 4/5 balls hit to her yet continues to play every inning every game at short because she is coaches’ daughter. This is a 16 and under travel team. This team had two practices before their first tournament and all the infield positions were locked up after first practice by coaches’ daughters and their friends. Two tournaments so far, infield plays entire game and outfield rotates no matter how many errors in the infield. When I played, dropping a ball at short meant MAYBE one more chance, depending on how tough the catch was. Of course life is not fair but playing time should be based on ability, not last names.

    Comment by Joe — April 4, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

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    Comment by Benche — August 22, 2012 @ 1:41 am

  30. Great blog. My question is a little off in terms of age bracket. My daughter is playing her 2nd season in 12U select. She was invited to be the 2nd string catcher. The starter soon left due to conflict with coach. Now my daughter would start, but coach desires to attract pick up catchers to play 100% bracket games and majority of pool games. Defensively, they may be marginally better than my daughter. Oh and btw, my daughter has sat out complete games while pick ups play full time.

    Would someone care to help me how to respond to coach??
    Thanks

    Comment by Steve — November 24, 2012 @ 1:41 am

  31. Very interesting article… I am currently dealing with the parental side of this. My daughter made the middle school softball team this year. After 4 games, she has yet to have a chance to hit the ball and very little time in the field. There are 8 girls that you can guarantee will be on the field and will bat with every inning. While there are 6, my daughter included, that have yet to bat at a game, and little field time. It is so very frustrating to see these girls practicing for hours, M-F for weeks now, and never be given the opportunity to prove themselves or participate in the games. I have watched the pratices and it is not based on their ability. …. Now my true issue is that my daughter happens to be shy and unfortunately has low self esteem. I encourage her to participate in the various sports because it is something she enjoys and is very good at, hoping that it will help build her up. But I can’t help but question if I should pull her from the team, because this is truly pulling her down. She comes home after the games feeling like she is inadequate. Where I thought joining the team would build her up as in the past, but it is in fact making her feel worse about her self. …… So I do see what you are saying, but my concern is for the girls that are left feeling inadequate about themselves. If this is a “team” effort, why are so many singled out as not being good enough. In our situation I do feel it is a matter of the “family legacy”, who has ties to the coach, whose sister was on the team last year. While I am still encouraging my daughter to keep putting in the effort, show the coach what she can do, I am finding it much harder to do so with every game, every practice, when I see my daughter so disappointed. Not so good for their esteem. Do I continue encouraging her and just hope that before the season is over she will have the opportunity to play? Do I encourage her to drop the team, because unless one of the chosen girls breaks a leg, twist her ankle, I feel like there is no chance of her playing? What’s a mom to do in this situation?

    Comment by Emily — March 14, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

  32. I’m going to be very honest here – while Jr. high age is when skills are built, quiting simply because you’re not getting enough playing time is not the answer. Sure, there might be reasons other than skill level that have allowed some players to play more than others, and those reasons may not be fair. But, life isn’t fair. We do our kids more harm when we shield them from the realities of life and the struggles and failures that come with any endevour. It’s a scientific fact that failure is the fastest way to improve skill. It requires the player to struggle through their skill in order to improve it to prevent future failures. Sure, the coach not playing your daughter limits her chances in a game, but pulling her from the team teaches her that this is the answer anytime something isn’t how you want it. I know that sounds harsh, but finding out that we aren’t the best and need to take it on ourselves to improve isn’t a bad lesson. Maybe she needs to practice on her own in addition to all the team practices. That’s an investment in herself instead of a punishment, or not fair. If you’re trying to help her grow her own voice and inner strength then pulling her from a setting that is difficult won’t do that – it only makes your voice stronger since it’s your decision. Deciding to become a part of a team doesn’t have an asterick with it that says “unless things don’t go well for me personally, then I’m outta here”. I know that sounds harsh, and some might think I’m being mean, but that is NOT my intention. Help your daughter improve her skills away from team practice. Play catch with her, talk softball with her, and help her find a way to be a valuable team memeber – which might simply mean she’s supportive of the girls that are getting a chance to play.
    But then, that’s just my opinion… Cindy
    PS – I played on a softball team one season that played well over 60 games and I maybe played in 4 of them. There was no way I considered quitting, I simply decided in the off-season I was going to improve myself so that I could play more. So I know how she feels. Not liking it is one thing, quitting is something totally different.

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — March 15, 2013 @ 11:57 am

  33. Advise on how to handle…Daughter is in 10th & on varsity. In 7th grade, the SB coach played 6th & 8th graders. In 8th grade the 6th & 7th graders were played. Coincidently, these younger players were for the most part on her travel ball team as well. In 9th grade, daughter was starting catcher at every game made 3 defensive errors all season and had the highest batting average (the previous coach was not involved.) She has been recruited by 2 elite showcase teams and is being looked at by 3 college programs. On to the present….former MS coach and current Varsity asst coach are BFF’s and play on the same travel ball team…therefore, my daughter’s riding the pine while their 4 freshman are starting every game. They do not play better, they do not give more at practice, they do not have more experience… they are simply kids who play on the coaches’ travel ball teams…how to get a fair shake. We’re sick of being black-listed!!!

    Comment by Marhalee — March 18, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

  34. My advise is, it now happened long enough that she doesn’t need to go out for her high school team next year. While it’s not fair, it is the situation and now that she knows it she needs to avoid the situation next year by not trying out. It sounds like she does well on her traveball team so that needs to be her forcus. It’s too bad since kids love playing for their high school teams, but unfortunately, some hs teams are like this – certainly not all. Also, I’d sit down with her and ask her opionion, and really listen. She might have a different view than you do. Anger doesnt help your daughter.

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — March 19, 2013 @ 9:07 am

  35. My daughter spent most of last year as a junior pitch running for her high school team. We had several sit down with the coach and the AD to discuss giving her a chance to start. She started 7 games and batted .358 while the best hitter on the team batted .368 and is all american. His excuse was that she only started “games that don’t count and if she saw real talent then she wouldn’t have.” At year end he gave her a list of things she needed to work on. She was scouted right after the high school season to play for the Sharks 18U GOLD level college exposure team. She spent no less than 10 hours per week practing and sometimes between 25 to 30 with team practice and games. Her defensive improved drastically, she batted .417 against top notch pitching from across the country, and in 1 year stole 31 out of 32 bases. Going into this season she was sure she would have a starting position.

    Instead the coach has started several players that did not play off season ball, and several are batting under .100 currently. My daughter has been scouted this summer by D1, D2, and D3 level teams. At the D1 level she would be a preferred walk all, mostly a utility player. At the D2 and D3 level she would be a starter. She recently decided to play division 3 ball since the university has offered her a full ride in academic and endowments. The coaches still want to come see her play, and this season, 5 games down, she has started one game “that doesn’t count” and in that game went 1 for 2 with a double 1 RBI and 2 sac bunts. No errors and 2 diving plays at second. I don’t know what to do. I have coaches asking for her schedule, but what am I supposed to say, “You all believe in her ability,” but her high school coach doesn’t? He nearly destroyed her last season, where she actually asked to graduate early, but my husband and I encouraged her to work hard at softball like she applies herself to her academics. She is currently ranked first in her class of almost 500 students with a 5.5 GPA. I really thought that he would see her improvement and the lack of commitment from the other players and give her a chance. But I feel as though all of her hard work and dedication has gone unnoticed. Not to mention, the only person she really wanted a stamp of approval from was her high school coach, but he still treats her like the dirt under his feet.

    What is a mother to do? I fear she will sit the bench the entire season again, although our team is 3 and 2, because he refuses to switch things up? Will this ruin her chance of playing college ball? Division 3 there is no written commitment, so the coach technically could come to watch her, see her sitting the bench and think, “wow if she isn’t good enough to play here, do I really want her on my team?” My gut tells me to go directly to the school board this year. Last year he told my daughter EXACTLY what he wanted her to do, and she did EXACTLY what he asked, and this is the result…….

    Advise please!

    Comment by Frustrated Mom — April 8, 2013 @ 3:23 am

  36. I can understand your frustration and certainly your daughter’s, but, no matter whether at the high school, travelball or college level – what the coach says goes. I know that sounds harsh, and I’m not trying to be unkind. I am, however, trying to help you see that your daughter obviously has skills since she has shown it on her Gold team, and even on her HS team the few chances she’s played. The D3 coach that’s interested in her will base her/his decision on how she plays in summerball since the competition is typically stronger than in high school. Help your daughter see this as a situation that she cannot control. Playing time is not something that players control – coaches control that. Your daughter seems to have worked hard and improved her skills and that’s all she can control. She needs to help support her teammates that are playing and do her best to be a good teammate. College coaches run into this all the time and they make their living judging talent. They know how to judge talent playing summer travelball and talent playing high school ball. While I know it will be hard, do your best not to become “that parent”. I know it kills you to see your daughter hurting but this is a good lesson for your daughter to make the best of a bad situation. It won’t be the last time in her life when someone in charge of her makes a decision that hurst her. So our role as adults is to help kids own their situations, no matter how negative they may be, instead of allowing the situations to own them. Stay positive, keep working hard and don’t let a lack of high school playing time define you! When you do get to play, play great, and when you don’t then support those that do. Trust me – when the college coach comes watch your high school game and see your daughter sitting the bench but still supporting her teammates and being a great team player – THAT”S the player they want on their team!!!! Good luck and stay positive!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — April 12, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

  37. So I wanted to bring up the fact that sometimes the difference between players is minimal. Most of the HS players play travel ball or on a competitive team and have very good skills. On my daughters HS team there are 4 freshman on the team this year and one is the 1string pitcher who plays the whole game. One is the starting catcher. However the other 2 are 3B. Why can’t coaches just let them share the position. That way they get to play and gain Varsity experience. I don’t understand why coaches have to leave them in the whole game. To me they would want to develop their bench players in case one of their starters is ill or injured. If that happens, they are now putting in a player who has sat the bench all season and is expected to perform just like a starter. I still don’t understand why coaches can’t share 1 to 2 positions if they are equal in ability. Everyone plays, so parents and players are happy and your bench players are fully developed.
    Then it is truly is a team effort. The girls will respect the coach for putting all the best players on the field. Some solutions are are so simple and coaches are blind to trying new things because this is the way it’s always been done. You cant possibly switch up your players because you might lose.My daughters competitive team coach played his whole team all season and they won the state championship. They truly won as a team together. So you can’t say it hasn’t been done. It’s a philosophy that most HS coaches will never adopt because they are to stubborn to change. We all get in our comfort zone and will not venture from it. I say if you are not winning then change it up and try something new and maybe we wouldn’t have so many disappointed parents and players to confront on a daily basis. Lets just say again that I am talking about equal ability players.

    Comment by Heartbroken parent — April 21, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

  38. I am a 14 year old who has a great passion and love for softball and I have played for 3 years. But this last year wasn’t as fun as the other year. I had a coach that wouldn’t play me on varsity at all and I have been told by many people that I am netter then some people she put on varsity but she still wouldn’t play me. Now I could understand if the team was a winning one but they only won 2 games all season. The thing that really didn’t make since to me is she had almost all of the girls I played with last year on the team and we won all the games that year except for one and she split us up and wouldnt play us all on the same team. Oh well maybe when I get to highschool I’ll play for a better team and coach.

    Comment by Amanda — June 12, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

  39. Practice, practice, practice! Don’t make it about the coach. Practice to improve your skills so that you’re better this coming season and then the coach will most likely play you!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 14, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

  40. I enjoyed your post and as a soccer mom, I have had to support my daughter on those rare occasions when she felt slighted. While I do not believe that the mantra of,”It’s life. Deal with it” applies to the degree that you propose,I agree that such line of thinking helps build inner strength.

    Some things I wish experts would speak more about has to do with the issue of coaches and their behavior toward bench players. My daughter is a career club player–a great forward and defender. We both understand that she has a lot of talent, but club play taught her that just as she is great, there are a thousand more players greater than she.

    She felt lucky to make the varsity team and was excited to get challenging training and so it was a ‘win’for her.Unfortunately, her joy turned to bitterness and so this past fall, my daughter had a terrible soccer season.

    My daughter’s problems had a lot to do with how the coach treated the bench players. My daughter put it this way, “The bench is not the problem; how the coach treats the bench is the problem.” What she meant had to do with how, by midseason, the coach all but ignore a few of the less talented players–my daughter included. He focused just about all of his attention on the ‘star’ players. Moreover, not only did he forget about some part of his team, he spoke harshly to them and this harshness escalated over the season. I would show up to carpool and I would hear him screaming at players and telling them that they will never be as good as his best players and that he regrets even select these bench players for the team. The yelling and insults got so bad that some of the star players remarked about his behavior. Still, they knew to give reassurance to the bench players, but never speak or tell their parents about the issue for fear of losing their position.

    During games, coach was not subtle about putting bench players in for less than a minute when his star players needed water. At first, no one seemed to care, but then it got to be regular practice.My daughter asked the coach if he could make it less obvious, perhaps let them stay in a 2 minutes or so if he didn’t intend to play her. Several other players made the same request when it got to the point that they became known as water girls to audience. My daughter was then not called for water duty for a few games.

    My daughter felt annoyed that after I told her to advocate for herself in relation to the coach, he reacted badly to her. She lamented that he could have just told her “no” rather than escalate with the yelling and giving her the silent treatment.I gave her bad advice, but it doesn’t seem that anything would work with this coach.

    At one point, a parent of one star player explained that her daughter and the other star players began dismissing the bench players both verbally and at practices- the parent was embarrassed that her daughter was not carefulin letting anyone who could hear know that the bench players, “They aren’t on the team they just sub for us when we need a water break.” What do you know? The star player sat the bench the next game because as the coach told the team,”You deal with me and not have your mommy speak to me about MY team.” The player did not have anything to do with her mother’s approaching the coach, yet she suffered. It would seem more reasonable that the coach penalized her for the watergirl comments, but to make her responsible for her mother’s decision is wrong.

    By the end of the season, the bench players were in such low spirits that it was a struggle to have them finish the season. At the banquet, the coach handed out the “letters” and a certificate. A few of the bench players’ certificates were missing the letter. The rule is that players get a varsity letter if they play in a certain number of games as varsity. Time doesn’t matter. My daughter asked about her missing letter and the coach told her that it must have fallen off. He told the same to the other 3 girls. How could it be that only the bench player letters were missing? That letter situation taught my daughter that coaches purport one thing, but do another on many occasions. She also learned that playing time is power and coaches use it as a weapon.

    With the season starting up again, the coach had each varsity player and a parent meet with him. Basically, to ask about the players’ goals for the season. My daughter prepared a list of goals beforehand and I told her to stick with the goals and leave out last season. She did so. Then the coach went on to say something about how he didn’t play her because the other players have played together on club for years and so they were a better fit. Since we moved to the state in her freshman year, she was not a part of that club history. That was illogical, but I said nothing despite the fact that I wanted to ask him why not just roster those longtime club players for varsity and save the trouble.

    His last remark got to my daughter. He told her that the team is on the elite level (they aren’t. they win in their city conference, but lose in the first round of playoffs–historically it’s has been the pattern) that he felt she got angry when the season became difficult. My daughter replied that she got angry when he discounted the value of what bench players do for the team.

    She told him that the star players get to use them to hone their skills and that helps the whole team, but it seemed like he saw the bench as worthless to the team. She also explained that the bench isn’t a bad place when you know the coach sees you as a full member of the team. She felt like if he had respected the bench, they would have felt better about their 30 seconds of playing time. She also said that it is really hurtful to have a coach give the silent treatment because it lets the rest of the team know that the coach doesn’t respect you and so they do respect bench players either.

    In response, the coach told her that if she wanted playing time, then practice more and play better in games and don’t complain about the bench. (How can this be? The bench doesn’t get to play but about 30 seconds per game?) My daughter said to him, it isn’t the bench that is the problem, it is how you treat the bench that is the problem. He smirked and said well it’s my team and I decide playing time! I was stunned that he didn’t HEAR my daughter’s concern about being respected for the role she plays on the team even if it is to practice play.

    The thing is that yes let the coach, coach. Yes, there are much better players out their. Yes, sports come with disappointment. However, when we sweep some of the pressing issues under the rug by going straight to the playing time tug of war, we ignore significant issues about coaching. Most coaches hear playing time whenever someone is telling them something they don’t want to hear. Most coaches feel they are above reproach and most schools districts support that arrogance. Sometimes, many times, coaches are wrong. Most of the time, the fight about playing time ignites because of how the coach relates to players in general. It is NEVER simply about sour grapes over playing time. Coaches need to become better listeners. Coaches should keep conscious their abuse of power in the form of playing time and then maybe they could hear the entire conversation before them.

    Comment by dr. mamah — July 30, 2013 @ 3:42 am

  41. Great article and read to be sure. I have coached football and now I coach hockey. Many of the comments on here from parents regarding liked your article “but”, after the but, I am sure these are parents who are the problem! In all my years as a player and coach I have never seen a player not played as they should, “because the coach didn’t like them” I especially liked the comment how all of the parents and assistant coaches said their kid was the “hardest worker” on the team and should get more playing time. A: I strongly doubt it, and B: if it was true it still doesn’t mean your child had the skills to earn more playing time. It sounds like you tried stirring the pot with all the parents. Nobody has more invested in playing the best players than the coach! No coaches ever coach to lose. My advice to my players and my own kid is and always will be “work on your game”! Make yourself so valuable there is no way to keep you off the starting lineup. The most overlooked aspect of a player is being coachable. When a coach teaches a drill he or she is teaching a skill. Make that skill part of your game immediately and always. If your not a starter or getting the playing time you want I guarantee its not “politics”, or “the coach doesn’t like you”, It’s You! When you tell a player anything else your setting your kid up for disappointment the rest of their life.

    Comment by Hockey Coach — August 10, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  42. As a father of a stand-out 12 year old softball player who is currently playing on a 14U travel team, I’ve seen too many players quit the sport because they spent a lot of time on the bench. They felt that the coach had unfairly written them off. My daughter had a couple of seasons where she was benched almost every inning and considered quitting as well. But fortunately she stuck with it. After a while the coaches started to recognize her talent and hard work and gave her plenty of playing time. After last season, the coach pulled her aside and actually told her he thought she was the best player on the team.

    I can understand the reasons for keeping a weaker player on the bench. However, most of the problems with players and parents can be avoided if the coach makes more of an effort to communicate clearly with the players and parents.

    If a coach has a player who he feels needs to stay on the bench most of the time, the coach should tell the player the specific reasons why she is on the bench and what specific skills she will need to improve before getting more playing time. Also, the coach should have a plan for helping the player improve those skills and share those plans with the player. That way, the player can at least see a path to getting more playing time and have some motivation to improve. She will also be able to see that the coach’s decisions are based on rational reasons and not based on playing favorites or some other silly reason. This would also go a long way in improving relations with the parents because they will see that the coach has not written their kid off as merely lazy or hopeless and is trying to help her improve. Unfortunately, too many coaches actually do view the weaker players as lazy and the parents as annoyances who are to be blamed for the team’s problems. (Don’t believe me? Read some of the responses from coaches on this page!) They don’t feel that they need to explain their decisions to anybody. This attitude can be sensed by parents and players a mile away and only causes problems that hurt the team as a whole. It is also the primary reason so many kids with the potential to be great players quit a sport for good.

    Comment by Proud Dad — November 13, 2013 @ 1:32 am

  43. The “playing time is earned” line is spread thickly at the local high school but when you pull back the curtain the playing time is allocated to girls based on the travel team they play with. At that school, 9 of 9 JV starters and 7 of 9 varsity starters play for the travel team. That’s understandable if those teams are winning but on the travel circuit, those teams are posting mediocre results. How do parents at that school convince their non-favored travel team daughters that work and a good attitude is the correct path when the evidence isn’t there to support it ?

    Comment by Ken E — March 20, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

  44. Because that’s the path in life, isn’t it? People get promoted over you that might not deserve it but that doesn’t mean you should quit working hard and producing. The best lesson you can teach your daughter is that she can only control her output and not the things that happen as a result – but that’s no reason to back off the output. It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but one that when learned, helps you the rest of your life. With hard work and a good attitude life will shine on her. It might not be now and it might not be in softball, but when it shines she’ll know she earned it and with that comes tremendous pride and satisfaction.

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — March 21, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

  45. Have a 16 year old daughter who plays V HS Softball. She has played 3 years of travel ball and this is her 2nd year on HS ball. New HS team, and unfortunately very, very young Varsity coach. I am looking for answers how to deal with this situation, but after reading most of the comments, have come to some realization of accountability. I find myself very angry with this coach, as it seems she has targeted my daughter. At first I thought it was because she wanted to make my daughter realize her potential, but now I am questioning her intentions completely. Cream rises to the top, but when a coach is so intense in practice that more than half of the girls quit during try-outs, I believe there is more of an issue than one may think. As conditioning began, my daughter missed 2 practices and the coach verbally made it known to the other teammates. After it came to our attention, she never missed another. My daughter gets migraines and had to leave school one day because she lost vision for a while. The coach made the comment in front of the team that she “should take an aspirin and suck it up”. I addressed this with the coach after I “cooled-off” and apologized for my daughter’s absence but explained the affect the medication had on her system, Dr. prescribed medication. As a parent, I feel this comment was out of line. Surprisingly, my daughter made the team. For four long months, she stayed after school for 2 .5 to 3 hours either weight-lifting or field drills. Just amazes me how some individuals made the team after showing up for only a week or two of conditions, after she verbally addressed my daughter’s absence of 2 “voluntary practices”. My daughter has played outfield since being on the team, and I am okay with that. Her batting lacks that of what it should be and I am trying very hard to find a coach, but she is dead-on when it comes to fielding. No parent wants to see their child ride the bench, but if she has given attitude or fallen short of her best, then that is where she needs to be. I appreciate all the comments on this page, it has opened my eyes to truthfulness within. However, I still have issues I really need help with, before I completely lose composure and embarrass myself or my daughter. In the first parent meeting, the coach commented on athletes with “headaches” and how they were required to sit in the dug-out and watch teammates play. I AM SORRY, BUT THIS FELT LIKE A DIRECT STATEMENT TO MY DAUGHTER!” Like any parent who is scared of making a comment, I sucked-it-up. This coach has come across as unprofessional since day one. If you have ever had a migraine, you know that comment is ridiculous!!!!!!!!! practices last 2.5 to 3.5 hours after school, EVERYDAY. I anonymously contacted the athletic director and complained because this is crazy. These girls don’t get to eat supper until 7:30 at night, then have homework and bath time to deal with. We were told in the parent meeting that she would not deal with parents and preferred not to be approached by anyone about their child’s playing time. So, I have stayed in my lane and minded my own business. Until now, which is where I am. my daughter made some awesome catches at a game and slid to catch one but when her arm hit the ground it popped out. to make matters worse, we were playing the coaches old team, so her pride was at stake. We lost by one run, which was mu daughter’s fault. However, other girls made mistakes that could have also prevented those runs from ever happening. So, I don’t think it is fair to penalize one child for this. 3 mistakes were made, and one was my daughter’s. Really didn’t make matters better, when she struck out at bat. After the game, the girls were verbally abused, which they always are. The coach is always negative, never uplifting at all. I also commented on this when I contacted the athletic director. Ironically, the coach has even apologized to the girls for her behavior after one of the first games of the season, and said that she is working on her professionalism and attitude. PLEASE! Back to the game though. This is where it all seems to go to CRAP for me. She has always threatened the girls by saying she would move some JV girls up if “others, aka my daughter” didn’t step-up. Well, she surely did. Last night she moved a girl up in my daughter’s position. However, as soon as my daughter dropped that ball, I knew she would sit the bench the next game, if not the rest of the season. I can’t seem to find one redeeming factor about this coach. I am so upset and frustrated that this type of behavior is allowed by school districts. Other parents see what is going on and no one will say anything. Let’s just face it, we are all afraid of compromising our child’s playing-time on the field. As I sat in the stands, intense hatred ran through my veins. I want to understand why? I am honest in saying that my daughter needs batting lessons, but her fields is dead-on. She made one mistake, AS OTHERS DID THAT NIGHT. Guess what? The new girl missed an easy catch in the outfield. She did bat twice, hit the ball and got out on first. Wasn’t a great hit. My daughter hit the ball the other night and got out at first, wasn’t a great hit either. But, my daughter did strike out once. My daughter has told me since conditioning that this coach doesn’t like her, but honestly, I thought it was because my daughter was a wimp and needed to toughen-up. Unfortunately, condescending remarks does not work well with my child. She has her feelings hurt easily, as do I. But, I commend her for continuing to show-up everyday and eat CRAP from this coach. Deep down, I want her to quit and put all this behind me. As a parent, I feel my daughter has been treated unfairly. As an former softball athlete, I feel my daughter need to step-up her batting. But, how do I handle this situation? There are times I really do believe this coach doesn’t like my daughter, but how do you prove something like that? I was always taught to go to the top to deal with a situation, but I want to get all the facts before I cause problems. I do know that she has already been approached by one parent for issues pertaining to her daughter being verbally abused and treated unfairly. HELP

    Comment by Upset Mom — March 22, 2014 @ 6:12 am

  46. This sounds like a very messy situation, and one that I am not in a position to get in the middle of. I can understand how you are upset and frustrated at your daughter’s situation, but your role as a parent is to help your daughter become equipped to be an adult. As an adult, she will probably have a boss or working environment similar to what is happening now. You won’t be in a position to do something about it for her, so your best role is to help your daughter see through what’s happening now and separate into 2 categories:
    1. Things she CAN control
    2. Things she CAN’T control
    This might sound simplistic to you but as a former softball athlete yourself, you know that’s how you have to approach the game. So, it’s obvious that your daughter cannot control how the coach speaks to the players, but she CAN control how those words impact her. It’s common for females to take things personally. I do it too. And while it might seem like the coach is directing things at your daughter, I’m sure other players feel that way as well. It will really help you and your daughter if she starts working hard to separate everything happening on this team into either the CAN CONTROL or CAN’T CONTROL pile:
    CAN Control:
    - how much she practices
    - how hard she works
    - how much she hustles
    - how personal she takes things
    - how good of a teammate she is
    CAN’T Control:
    - whether the coach plays her
    - whether the coach yells
    - whether the coach likes her
    - how the coach treats the team
    I’m not trying to trivialize this situation, not at all. If your daughter loves softball and dreams of playing in college, then long practices, late nights and dinners after 8 will be part of the picture, as will very hard practices. So try not to lump those things into the coach pile. But, if the coach has crossed the line, then that will be sorted out by the administration following the season. Keep a log of things that the admin needs to know so anything you say will be factual, but do your very best to avoid the emotion of the situation. I know that will be hard for you, but this situation has become toxic for you as well. I can appreciate that your urge is to protect your daughter by “doing something about this”, but that isn’t your role. Help your daughter learn how to “do something about this” herself by gaining a clearer perspective on what she can and can’t control, so that she can see this clearer. Sure, it might not be “fair” that another girl plays while your daughter sits, but “fair” isn’t something you control in life. So, move beyond fair to a place where she knows she’s controlling everything she can. It will make her, and you feel so much better.
    Thanks for your passion, and good luck!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — March 31, 2014 @ 11:20 am

  47. Times like these I wish I was studying Law instead PoliSci:

    Comment by Cyrus Malaterre — May 21, 2014 @ 6:02 am

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