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Different Situations Require Different Types of Communication

Parents can tiptoe a thin line when coaching their own child. Some parents can be harder on their own children, or not hard enough. Then there are times when coaching stops and parenting begins again. Like when they leave practice and get into the car to go home.

Most coaches in youth sports, particularly in baseball and softball, are parents. These parents can figure out an effective line of communication with their children, but the chain of communication often needs to spread beyond that to play a key role in success for both the team and the parents.

Communication is more than just coach to player, and that of player to player. There’s interaction with assistant coaches and good communication with parents.

Scott Policar, who’s coached his son’s baseball team in New York the last six years, said a good line of communication between him and the assistant coaches have led to fluid success.

“Each coach has his own specialty,” Policar said. “One might be a good hitting coach while another is good at pitching or fielding, and one might be the best strategist.”

When working with your own child, Policar added that teachable, or coachable, moments often work better when done by one of the other coaches rather than doing it on the field yourself.

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“This way there is nothing direct as being a father to their kid. That’s one thing we’ve done, and most times it gives another coach the chance to share their perspective with the kid and their way of coaching,” Policar said. “You’re his father and afterwards if you want to bring it up, then that’s your call. I don’t mention it and see if my child wants to bring it up.”

Then there are scenarios on which kids should play at what positions and how much playing time each kid should get.

Policar said he and his coaching staff have been together long enough and “pretty much know which kids belong where on the field,” but sometimes they’ll have new kids with parents who might not understand why their kid doesn’t play a certain position, or why they play only a limited amount of innings.

“That’s always going to come up,” Policar said. “No one’s ever happy, and that’s where good communication comes in with both the parent and the player. The manager has to be fair, and all of our coaches are.

“Every kid will play. My son will sit an inning, this coach’s son will sit an inning.”

Policar said not every kid can play the position they want, and that they try to explain to both the kid and parents that his skill levels might not be as proficient as the kid who’s starting, or playing more.

“If we’re winning with a big lead, we’ll take the kid who wants to play first base and we put him on first,” Policar said. “Will he make errors? Probably. But then he might go out there and prove he can do it. We try to give them the best opportunity.”

The coach added that some kids go through their growth spurts at the 11-14 ages faster than others, which could coincidentally give them an athletic advantage until the late bloomers catch up.

Policar added that it’s wise to let kids bond off the field rather than just in practice, during road trips and at games. Those could be field trips to the bowling alley, a professional baseball game, or a day outing to a pizza parlor with an arcade. But in the end, it’s all about good communication all the way around.

“Communication is key, especially with players and parents,” Policar said. “You also have to keep your assistant coaches up to date with everything.”

And success could follow.

From GameChanger and Scott McDonald.

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Baseball, Softball