Coaches take charge of their roster of players at baseball practice and during games. At these times, you become the surrogate parent for your players, substituting your instruction and advice for their parents. Some parents welcome your greater expertise while others feel it is necessary to advise you. There is a fine line, so baseball coaches’ letters to parents need to contain information about you as the coach, what your objectives are with your players, and what you believe the parents role should be in helping their kids play to their highest potential.
People become coaches because they love doing it. Coaching is a calling. Many times you’ll have bursts of inspiration and then take steps to turn your ideas into reality. To do this, you need complete control of your team, and to realize your ideas. There are some requirements in order for it to happen.
- Making sure your players have all the equipment they need.
- Players must arrive to practice and to games on time.
- Making sure parents know and understand your school’s athletic department policies, regarding fees, rules and player eligibility.
- A good relationship with the parents of your players is significantly important.
- You must keep lines of communication open at all times for both players and their parents.
Let Parents Know your Coaching Philosophy
The best time to let parents know your approach to coaching and working with players is before the season starts. Drafting a letter containing your philosophy early on serves to prevent problems with parents in the future.
Compose a letter that is as detailed as possible. Get the wording right so that it strongly conveys your point of view. Encourage parents to read it, then go over it with them in a pre-season meeting.
The purpose of a pre-season meeting is to open lines of communication between you and the parents. At the meeting, you will meet them all and get an idea of which ones agree with your approach, and those who may have their own ideas that they want to share with you.
Parents think they understand their child better than anyone, even when it comes to sport activities. They’ll talk to you about positions they think their child should play, what position in the batting order they believe he should be, and the belief that their child should be utilized more often than you think.
Parents can be overzealous. That energy can be turned from a negative to a positive if you encourage their 100% support of the team at game time. Nothing helps a little leaguer perform well than when he hears his Mom or Dad yelling their support from the sidelines, imbuing their child with confidence.
When it happens that parents will participate on the condition that you as a coach make the changes they recommend, a boundary is crossed and then you will need to bring to their attention their role in the process of coaching, and their role in supporting you, their child and the team. This is one of the main reasons why the pre-season meeting it so important.
Writing a letter before the meeting will let parents know in advance what you’ll be discussing when your first meet them. Your approach should be open, acknowledging their concerns, empathizing, letting them know you always consider their interests. When you empathize, parents feel they are being understood, and it will help you when you tell them how you are going to coach the team.
What you expect from Parents
Your letter should clearly state your expectations of parents. Establish rules and impress them upon them.
- Let them know the days and times you’re able to talk with them.
- Inform them of the rules about missing practice, and coming late to practice.
- Make it clear that you are a baseball coach and not a carpool service. You cannot pick up or drop off players before or after practice.
Parents’ Behavior at Games
As coach, you need to take a leadership position. You do this by establishing rules for them to follow.
Parents must maintain good behavior at baseball games. Emphasize to them that the best contribution they can make is motivating their children and cheering them on. Advise them to avoid making negative comments about their child, or other children.
Parents should never yell at umpires, nor should they insult players on the opposing team. When they yell at either their own child or other children, they only confuse the players, and create a negative environment.
Other Ways Parents can contribute
If a parent of a child wants to get more involved in the process, and help the team have the best season possible, there’s more they can do. Taking a supporting role always helps.
Encourage parents to volunteer to either support the team directly or support the school’s athletic program. There’s always a need for people in school volunteer activities.
Practicing with their child at home between team practice and games will help to strengthen their child’s weakness and improve his skills. Let parents know what areas their child can improve, and suggest specific practice routines that will help him with his struggles.
If parents can afford baseball gear, nothing is better than a batting tee, a net, and a pitchback net to help with fielding ground balls. Compared to baseball gloves and composite bats (BBCOR), these items are relatively inexpensive.
The Content of your Letter to Parents
The letter you compose and send to parents before your preseason meeting should not be too lengthy, but should be long enough to include the following:
- Your philosophy of coaching
- Your objectives for the team
- The contributions of parents
- Your selection process for players’ positions
Your letter will pre-empt lengthy discussions with parents at the preseason meeting. At the meeting, you discuss the letter, and talk about the best ways each parent can contribute. Your letter, together with fielding questions and addressing parents’ concerns, you will a very well-rounded and comprehensive meeting where your philosophy and parents’ issues have been resolved.
We have attached here a sample let for you to use to compose your own. However, if you feel the attached adequately describes your philosophy and objectives, you can use it for yourself. Print a copy for each family and make certain they receive it. It is best to have a hard copy they can hold in their hands instead of sending an email. A hard copy should also be signed by each parent at the end of the meeting. If a player drops it off for you, make sure he’s responsible enough (based on his age) to give the letter to his parents.
Sample Baseball Coaches Letter to Parents
I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you my coaching philosophy as well as my goals for your child this baseball season. Parents play an important role the upcoming season when they cheer on their child and the team at baseball games. When a parent supports their child’s playing, their positive encouragement can help their child, and the team, play even better.
Youth baseball is an exciting and a fun opportunity for your child to learn new skills, develop his self-confidence, make new friends, and most important of all, have fun. I know that I may have different expectations than you have for your child, and often it takes away from the positive experience your child can have playing on the team.
Please understand first and foremost that the entire purpose of youth baseball is for children to have fun playing the game, and in that experience he gains a sense of confidence and self-worth that he can carry with him as he grows and has new experiences. Secondary to that is winning baseball games. My philosophy is that if I had to choose between players being unhappy but winning the ballgame, or losing but the team is enjoying themselves, I would always choose the latter.
Just like positive experiences are carried through a child’s growth and development, so too are negative experiences. That is why I prefer a child enjoys himself first, and focuses on winning the game second. My objective is to win every game, but not sacrifice a positive environment doing it.
It would be greatly appreciated if my philosophy fits with your expectations for your child, and how you believe the team should be run. I am open to positive criticism and I always try to keep an open mind. In the end, however, I am going to adhere as closely as possible to my own philosophy which helps me create a plan for success for the team this season.
I strongly believe that kids gain confidence and a love for the game of baseball when they get positive feedback from parents, coaches and their teammates. As a coach, I try to remain upbeat and focus on the positive instead of the negative.
Skill sets for each player develop at different times for each kid, but with some effort while having fun, even a substantial increase of success for each child can be achieved.
I take more than a casual interest in the players. I try to make the time to talk to each player one on one each time we meet for practice and games. Kids at this age rely on adults to guide them and help them increase their skill level.
I may not be able to get to each player every day, but I always let them know I’m interested in their improvement. Positive reinforcement, letting kids know I like them regardless of their skill level, makes kids work harder to improve their hitting and fielding. They want to do well as a member of the team, but also for their parents, who are the most important adults in their lives.
Team practice should be as fun and entertaining as possible. We do drills for hitting and fielding, and although drills can be challenging, kids try harder when we make the drills fun and exciting.
The better organized the practice is, the more players respond to my instruction. I keep practice well-structured so the players won’t get confused. At this age, the attention span of kids is short, so their real focus at this age is enjoying themselves whenever they can. A mix of practice and fun competitions keeps kids interested and involved.
I stress the importance of teamwork, and I always tell my team how important it is for them to support each other, and to always be positive to their teammates. Positive reinforcement wins more games than calling out the weaknesses in a child’s playing.
An important element in baseball and in any other sport is competition. As kids grow and develop they naturally become more competitive.
The way in which I encourage competition is not stressing the importance of winning the game, or that it’s of primary importance that we win. It’s more crucial that kids learn the ability to deal with competition in a healthy way. I focus on effort and maintaining a positive attitude. I will talk to my players from time to time about how they feel about the outcome of a game, and what steps they believe we could have taken to get a better outcome.
It may surprise most parents, but kids often have good ideas, and are able to solve issues on their own. As they learn how to play the game, they will come up with their own ideas, and we discuss them when we meet one on one at practice and in games. When everyone’s involved, competing at a healthy level, it translates to more wins for the team.
Although I function as coach and direct the team’s activities, the game is really a time for the kids. I give instruction as each game progresses if I feel it will help with their performance during the game. But in general it is my job to watch them play and being non-intrusive.
Non-involvement during the game may sound counterproductive to parents. So, when a parent in the stands is overzealous and shouts out instructions, kids get confused. They start to wonder whether to take the advice, or wait for their coach to tell them what to do. This makes kids questioning the authority of the coach, which leads to an unnecessary confrontation between the coach and the parents.
Please understand that while I welcome your input off the field and in private, I am the final authority when it comes to managing the team during games. You are invited to watch team practice to get a better understanding of what the team can do, and what their limitations are.
My goal is to have every child feel that they played a great game. That does not mean I will whitewash over the mistakes. It is important to be honest with kids, but that does not mean calling them out on mistakes negatively. I take a positive approach by asking them how well they felt they played that day, and what they thought they could do better. At next practice, we let kids work on the skills they need to improve.
Objectives for Players
In coaching this age group I have these primary coaching objectives:
- To help your child develop the skills necessary to be successful.
- To encourage a healthy, competitive experience. Learning to compete in a positive way prepares your child for greater competition in the future.
- To have fun with the least negative stress.
- To help them develop a love for the game.
- To learn about the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship.
- To give positive reinforcement based on good effort, rather than results.
- To keep a safe and healthy environment always during team practice and games.
Establishing Field Positions and Playing Times
This age group is not yet assignable to specific positions on the field. I want to give kids an opportunity to play a number of different positions. When trying players out at each position I assign them, both the player and I begin to discover which positions are best suited for each.
No player will pitch or catch if I do not feel he has the ability to play the position at this time. These spots on the infield are more physically demanding, each in very different ways. It comes down to being a safety issues more than anything else, because real injury can result.
No decision will be final when I assign positions on the field. Over the course of a season, players will exhibit skills they did not have at the start. If a player’s ability to throw improves substantially during the season, for example, I may move him to either the outfield, shortstop or third base, depending on his fielding abilities.
Putting a player in a position he is not suited for not only creates tension for the team, and it has a negative impact on the child as well. I never want to force a player to play a position he knows and the team knows is unsuitable for him.