Fathers & Sons ... and Sports!

Avatar for keke0116
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Fathers & Sons ... and Sports!
3
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 6:27am
Kevin (my 11 y.o.) is a very good baseball player. He's currently on a travel ball team that he joined in May-June, and has done a few tournaments with them so far. DH had coached Kevin's teams (at a local park) for the past 2 seasons, but is not taking a team this year as the dynamic of coach-dad didn't work out. (It's hard enough, but add to that some behavioral issues we have with Kevin, and you can only imagine how tough that was.) Anyway, DH is still coaching from the sidelines. He tries to keep quiet during the games and practice (although he'll help out by throwing batting practice and such when asked.) Problem is that Kevin is one of the older/better players on the team, so DH is always expecting that Kevin will be a leader, that he'll be the one to 'carry' the team. The team, itself, has some talent, but they really aren't doing well together. Sometimes they do, and the coaches are certainly committed to working with them. They are playing a tournament locally this week (which, BTW, is quite stressful since everyone here is trying to live normal lives, but then disrupting camp/work to rush to a game ... much easier to go away for a weekend, I'm finding out.) Anyway, they are an '11 and under team' but are playing '12 and under' teams in this tournament, so already they have a disadvantage. They got beat pretty bad on Monday night. Kevin did NOT play his best ... but he didn't do bad, either. And, his 'bad' wasn't nearly as bad as many of the other kids out there. Kevin, of course, thinks he did pretty well (and for his ego and self-esteem, I'm really glad that he is not one of those kids that beats themself up for every error or screw up or whatever.) So, Kevin asked DH how he thinks he did, and DH asked Kevin "well, how do YOU think you did?" and Kevin said he thought he did pretty good. So, DH started with the negatives ... and I changed that to "well, what do you think your BEST play was?" You know, start with the positive before you start critiquing and whatnot. He didn't know, so DH was like "Well, what do you think was your worst?" Then, he went on to let Kevin know of several mistakes he'd made, what he should have done, etc. Kevin, naturally, was getting defensive ... and DH was getting annoyed that Kevin isn't able to take constructive criticism ... and I'm sitting quietly not wanting to get in the middle of this one, but feeling like DH is going to drive Kevin away from this sport if he isn't able to offer some positive. (It can't all be 'good' ... you don't want to always tell your kid how wonderful they are when they aren't ... but there needs to certainly be a mix of pluses and minuses, especially if you are trying to TEACH them something. Basic Management 101 ... start with the good stuff!) SO, Kevin was tuning out, DH was getting angry. Quite a fun (LONG) ride home.

At a tournament recently, I overhead an umpire talking to a coach between games ... and the umpire had been around baseball for years obviously. He was saying that he, too, coaches his kid, but at the first practice, he sits down the parents (primarily the fathers) and he tells them: Your child will never be as good a ballplayer as you thought you were. Gee! I love that quote, and it says it all, doesn't it?

I guess I need to chat with DH (who, like Kevin, gets defensive when offered 'constructive criticism.') Just need to get him to tone it down before he turns Kevin off the game entirely. That would be a shame 'cause he enjoys it ... and he is lucky enough to have some talent.

Nancy

Nancy 

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Avatar for suzyk2118
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Registered: 07-30-1997
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 1:12pm
I think that's why dh is only a 'helper' vs. a coach (made every practice and game, and helped at all)...I don't think he compares himself to ds, but I know he would love to 'help' ds more, and knows ds would balk.

Tomorrow night ds is going to try out for a 'select' team. I have no clue how he'll do; he hasn't really played since June, and their team was awful this year (and ds was one of the better players). DS is young for his grade; will be 11 next month. I'm hoping that this new team will be 'young' (i.e., ds will be older) as he has had to 'play up twice' in the past, when his team has played kids a grade older (and he's already a year younger than most in his grade). I really want him to see what kids his age can/can't do, whether they are better or worse, just so he doesn't always see HUGE kids out there!

I can definitely commiserate...best of luck getting through to both your guys!

Sue

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-27-2003
Sun, 07-27-2003 - 2:39am
I can understand what you're saying. I have an 11 year old son who plays basketball and he's good at it. My husband has been coaching him since he was 5 years old. My husband use to feed him the negatives, and too, had to step in and say where are the positives. He has gotten better at it, but I feel he just over does it sometimes and feel sorry for my son. My husband says that I am making him soft and I don't feel that way, I feel that he is lacking his self confidence because he feels he always have to live up to what his dad wants him to do. I am sending him away to my parents for a week's vacation and hopefully when he comes back we can sit down and think of some ways to improve his self confidence. By the way, this doesn't help my son, being the coaches son, he doesn't start any games because his dad feels that he may learn sitting on the bench.

I get fed up with the whole thing, and sometimes don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Avatar for keke0116
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 07-27-2003 - 7:41am
Just don't sign up to be the Team Mom! LOL BTDT, and that isn't worth it 'cause you get sucked into more than you need. I think that when Dad is the coach, Mom has to be the cheerleader. Not that it's a mixed message, but they need to hear the good stuff, too. And, the truth is, these kids know that we are being positive to counter the Coach Dad negativity ... although we're sincere, the 'positives' coming from US do not carry the same weight as it would from Dad! I've told DH that he needs to at least START with the good stuff. Instead of going in with "your batting is off ... why don't you listen to me? ... fine, if you want to keep getting out at the plate ... when will you work on this ..." you need to go in with saying "That was a really good play you made at first ... the catch in left field was awesome; really saved the game ... Good try on that play ..." whatever. Let the kid know he did something RIGHT (maybe several somethings rights) and instead of saying "what you need to do is ______" try a question like "what do you think you could do next time to improve that?" Boys, especially, want (and need and deserve) their father's approval, no matter what they do. (Have you seen that Disney movie, Baseball Cook or whatever ... where the baseball players finds he likes to cook, much to the dismay of his Coach-Father? Very interesting!) Anyway, you need to pull DH aside (out of earshot of DS) and explain to him what is happening to DS' self esteem. His is not going to be the next Michael Jordan, but he'll always be his son ... and this 'bonding' thing that is going on right now is going to determine THAT relationship for the future.

DH is constantly (when coaching) reminding Kevin that when they are on that ballfield, he is the COACH, not DAD. Well, let's flip that around a bit ... how about treating that child as a PLAYER and not YOUR SON? Do not be any harder on him because he has your genes than you would on the kid next to him!

Not an easy thing, no doubt.

Nancy

Nancy 

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