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Handling Emotions: Players, Parents, and Even the Coach

Coaching prep softball players can be both rewarding and challenging.
Making matters even more complicated is managing the relationship with parents who have their daughter’s best interests in mind, but might not be thinking about things from a coach’s point of view.
Marianna High School (Florida) softball coach Scott Wiggins is entering his eighth season at the helm. Prior to that, he was the coach for three years at the town’s middle school. 

Wiggins has managed to guide the Lady Bulldogs to multiple 20+ win seasons thanks to the philosophy of always being genuine. That applies not only to his players, but also their parents.

Wiggins shared his thoughts on a variety of subjects pertaining to being a prep softball coach.

Navigating through the players' emotions

“Well (coaching high schoolers) I think there’s an emotional side of it. It’s just the transition they make. When they’re 16 years old and get a car, they may think they know everything there is about everything. They’ll get boyfriends and then you have to deal with the emotions of her boyfriend made her mad that day in school. The challenges are emotional for the youth today. You’ve got to push through it, just like ballgames.”

Giving the players the skills to succeed off the field

“A lot of kids today don’t have a lot of direction. It ain’t all about just wins and losses. I try to go about it as life examples that our athletes can get from sports when they’re in college or become married. I just want to instill the little things in them like being on time and being early, giving everything you’ve got while you’re out here. Do your best always because when you leave practice today you can never get it back. Same thing with school. If you act like a clown in the classroom that day, you can’t get it back. I hope they can take stuff from what we’ve done here with the program.”

Handling parents

“They’re emotionally attached because it’s their daughter and they don’t see the whole aspect of it for me as a coach where I have to look out for the whole program. The biggest thing is that I’m honest with them. I will stick with them. I’ll meet with them. My door is always open. When you’re open and honest with them, I think you gain some trust. You have to not be afraid to sit down with a parent and have a consversation. What’s worked for me is being straight and honest with them from the get-go.”

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Establishing a team-first foundation

“We had a kid that was just a great all-around athlete. Well, we’re going to need a position that’s going to help our team but the parent wants to step in the way and say, ‘No I don’t want them playing that position.’ Well that kind of makes it iffy because now you’re going to have a parent try to tell you how you’re supposed to coach and tell you what’s best for this ball team. You’ve just got to have a talk with them because I don’t think they look at it from our aspect.

“It’s a position we needed and we kind of left it alone for a year but now it’s been re-emphasized. So I went back to them and told them this is what we need. If she wants to be productive and a legitimate part of this team, she’s going to have to do what I’m going to need her to do. That’s catch, play outfield, pitch for JV.”

Showing the players your human side

“They’ve seen me outside of coaching. They’ve seen me at the lake, pulling the kids around on the boat. They’ve seen me away from being coach and they see that I’m a normal, relaxed person that likes to have fun. They see that the coach has a soft side. I’ve cried with them but sometimes you’ve got to have tough love too. You hate to do it but you’ve got to stand up for what’s right for the team. So sometimes I have to make decisions based on what’s best for this program rather than one individual.”

From GameChanger and Rolando Rosa

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