What’s Wrong with Travel Ball?

Part 7 is going to venture into new territory. Now that we’ve covered practice and recruiting we’re going to move on to a new and interesting topic. Blame, and don’t worry there are a couple sections of this one too!

7. Blaming Coaches for Players Performance, part 1.

We see it all the time. When a player has a bad day everyone is mortified. The player feels terrible because she didn’t perform up to her capabilities. The parents and embarrassed and frustrated because they had to endure watching their daughter strike out when the game was on the line or walk in the winning run or drop the fly ball that cost us the game or ________. The one thing that amazes me when I go out to the ballpark is the most fundamental truth of all, for every “good thing” that happens to one team, a “bad thing” happened to their opponents. And most of the time there really is no one to blame for that outcome. BUT…

Now before you all get into the, of course the old coach is sticking up for all coaches, mindset. I agree that there are certain situations where a coach makes a decision that hurts a teams chances to win that game. And every game is different so something that a coach did last game, changing pitchers for example, that worked great can blow up this game. There are some cases where a coach is teaching their team do do things that are strategically flawed or out of date, there are times when a coach gives a certain player instruction and that player performs poorly, there are times when coaches run bad practices or make questionable decisions with the line up and all of these negatively impact a players performance that day. So yes, there are some cases where the coach does share some of the blame.

So we all know coaches aren’t perfect. Some are much better than others but one question I have to ask. Why is it the coaches fault, ONLY when things go wrong? A famous coach who’s name escapes me, once said, “I’m not taking credit when they play good so I don’t have to take the blame when they play poorly”. Kind of hits the nail on the head.

You have the same coach on the days you look great and are the star of the game as when you play poorly and stink up the field, don’t you? The same coaches strategies that allowed you to look amazing one game is the same coach who is to blame for you playing poorly the next? The coach who gives you feedback which might help you kill the ball one day, and offers the same feedback the next when you strike out, just became a terrible coach? This is where I start to shake my head.

Why do we need to have someone to blame? I know why we do it, it’s way easier to blame someone else than it is to take responsibility for it yourself. If I mess up, it’s on me, and that can be very difficult to accept so I have to find someone else to make the scapegoat for my poor performance. Now I get it. NOT ALL PLAYERS OR PARENTS PLAY THE BLAME GAME, but for some days it seems like they are a very small and silent minority.

So when your daughter gives up a home run, is it because the coach called the wrong pitch or did she throw a meatball right down the middle? When you strike out with the bases loaded did you just miss the ball (don’t forget the pitcher is trying pretty hard too) or was there some strategy that forced your hand? When you get thrown out at home plate did you get a bad jump or take a bad angle or not run at top speed because you thought the coach was going to hold you up? And did you know the situation where the coach might feel they need to put extra pressure on the defense in that spot? And we could list a few hundred more examples but I think you’ve got the idea.

Please consider one thing for me. Are you judging and then blaming solely based on the outcome of the play? If my daughter was safe at home the coach is being aggressive and when she gets thrown out our coach is an idiot? That to me is the crux of this discussion. If we judge a coaches decisions based solely on the outcome there will be a lot of times to blame the coach and many of them are unwarranted.

That being said, there will always be bad coaches just like there are great ones. If you really believe your coach is to blame for all your shortcomings as a softball player there is one simple conclusion to draw. You are on the wrong team! Or maybe a little look in the mirror to see if you share a little of the blame too!

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?