How to Develop Youth Players and Handle ParentsAug 18, 2022
As a coach it can be difficult to handle your youth player's parents efficiently and how to mentally develop your players for success. Coach Duke Baxter and Steve Nikorak explain how they best overcome this challenge. At Zoned, we have a strict "No Parents in the Dugout" policy where the parents are not allowed to stand near the dugout or coach a kid during a game. Another policy we implement is the "24 Hour Rule." This means that if a parent wants to ask questions or voice a concern they have to wait 24 hours after the game ends. Doing this eliminates the ability for parents to ask questions during a game or directly after.
To develop a player, it is necessary to do as many game like situations as possible during practice. Oftentimes, a player performs really well in practice but shuts down under pressure in a game. Adding game like situations into practice on a regular basis can help them work through this. Coach Steve will time plays in practice to put the players under pressure. The stopwatch drill takes the players' minds off of everything else that may be happening in a game and allow them to use their instincts and baseball IQ. Practice is time for development and that's why it is necessary to add so much pressure. With pressure in practice, games are time to show what the player's can do because they are prepared.
At Zoned, our coaches do not get upset with a player for making a physical error in a game such as striking out or missing a ball. Instead, we find mental errors to be more frustrating like not knowing a sign or not knowing where to go with the ball when it's hit to you.
Combining the parent rule and attempting to develop the players' mental game may require a sit down with parents. Here, the coach explains that when the parents are yelling plays from the stands it can be really difficult to coach to make the right decisions and for the players to not get confused.
As a coach, you have to do what you think is right even if it may not seem like popular opinion. By sticking with your instincts, players, and knowledge, you can build confidence in players and help them work through difficulties to become a better.
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