Struggling coach

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Jan 27, 2024
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I coach a 12u rec team. I never planned on being the head coach.. would have been happy to offer time to assist, but nobody else volunteered, so here we are.

I love it.

Or at least I DID love it.

Towards the end of last season and into this one, it seems like their will is gone. Dragging their feet or not moving at all, not focusing on drills, and so on. I hate that I want it more than them. I know, it’s rec ball, but there are some talented girls out here.. and it frustrates me even more because my daughter is one of the few who does try and even she is getting frustrated. It’s not like we’re a bad team, but we could be so much better.

I don’t have another coach on the field for most practices, despite other parents offering up help at the beginning of the season. And I get life happens, so I’m not upset about that. But it’s hard, especially for someone who hasn’t coached before to rein in a dozen 11-13 year old girls and try to coach them. I recognize that’s something I need to improve upon.. but my question is how? How do you coaches get the most out of your players when you’re the only one out there hitting balls or pitching? I feel like I can’t coach every single rep, can’t pull anyone to the side and give one on one attention, because I need to give everyone as many reps as possible.

I think I am too nice, but we also have several who flat out shut down at the slightest criticism.

Any advice for a new coach would be greatly appreciated.
 
Jun 20, 2015
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Quite the problem to have:12U and unmotivated players.

biggest thing I know that can help you is have a organized plan for practice. Every Time. have it all laid out from intro, stretching, thru infield, throwing, hitting etc. Not saying it all gets done, but it will help you stay on course for time.

Keep practices fun, while working on drills that build on each other and improve the players. Nothing worse line of 12 players and you hitting grounders for 45 mins. Change it to setting up bownet at 1b, and you're rolling balls to that same group, working on forehand, back hand, foot work , charging the ball, drop steps, etc. Each player easily gets 2-3x more reps, you get to see them all, make quick corrections and zero fear of them catching one in the eye. BTW - Bow net there to help throwing accuracy. Hit the opening = surely 1b could catch it. PLUS you can work faster. They all get work, they all get to encourage each other, controlled environment, etc. When they improve, you can shorten time and move to other stuff.

Don't forget time for fun drills like run down drills, situational reviews, explaining of why we do this, why bunt coverage rotation does this, etc, etc, etc.

You can't force them to learn. think horse to water. And depending on total number of players at practice, 1 coach is more than enough until you get up over 12-15. If you set up the drills and stations to allow them to learn and do simple things in small groups. IE . multiple stations for 2-3 players groups for hitting.

hope this helps.
 
Sep 19, 2018
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Ask for help again. Keep your chin up and continue to bring energy and be positive. Perhaps run some competitions/ competitive drills. And yes this is rec. it is NOT the same as travel . This is where you make the decision on what you and your dd want out of softball.
 
May 13, 2023
1,538
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I coach a 12u rec team. I never planned on being the head coach..
This right here.
Wasn't in your plan. And you stepped up to be the coach of a rec League team of players.
(AKA very short commitment for everybody)

Probably at that time when you decided to coach you came up with some expectation or standard that you would look forward to applying.

Dragging their feet or not moving at all, not focusing on drills, and so on. I hate that I want it more than them.
However the realization of the players that you will be coaching has come into light. These are kids that quite possibly are not out there to get better at softball. Yep!...This could be a recreational social league for them.

As much as it's difficult to say,
consider the bigger picture of what the group wants. versus what your intention of what you think a coach should do might be your answer.
Potentially adjusting your expectations will be the best way to make it through the season!
greatly appreciated.
🙂 Hope feedback helps!
 
May 13, 2023
1,538
113
Ask for help
This is what stands out to me in this situation~
if other parents within that group dont want to step up and help
then they are just using the recreational League as a babysitter/ social Kids Outlet. (Yikes that might be hard for some people to ingest.)
But the reality is if other parents sitting on the sideline don't want to step up and help the group, that is a big answer toward their lack of goal to develop their own kids.
 
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May 15, 2008
1,960
113
Cape Cod Mass.
Since this is rec and you are by yourself I would not go in the direction of more structure and drills. Having 12U girls do a drill by themselves, without an adult keeping them on task, is a recipe for disaster, inevitably it will deteriorate into a gigglefest. My advice would be to go for more games and competition. Split them up and scrimmage, or play workup. One little game I used to play is to have each player chose another player to play against. I put two cones or markers as 'foul lines' at SS. One girl was at the plate, she would throw a grounder to her opponent at SS and have to beat the throw to first. I would play first. Go through a couple of cycles then switch positions. Or go with fox and the rabbit. Start the fox at home and the rabbit half way up the first baseline. Yell 'go' and the fox has to catch and touch the rabbit.
 
Dec 10, 2015
850
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Chautauqua County
"I hate that I want it more than them."
A. chop wood, carry water
B. some girls like playing softball and some girls are softball players
C. they don't care about what you want so you need to care about what they want
D. get an AC or two now
E. you are a coach in name only, you are a teacher in fact. teach yourself first.
F. all of the above
 
Jan 25, 2022
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93
At that age, you still have kids who are there for fun/socialization, and they're important because some of them will consider themselves softball players at some point.

Any time I get in a situation like this, whether it's softball or parenting, etc, I try to remind myself that kids crave structure. Give them a specific warmup, a specific set of drills that are always done, a specific segment of practice where they learn something new, etc. Kids behave better when they know what's expected of them, vs just letting them do their own thing and trying to correct them when needed.

I nothing else, you maintain some control. If you need to yell a little bit, then do that.

All of this also applies to adults.
 
Sep 7, 2023
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I think what you're feeling now is what it is like to be a true leader. That Alpha animal that leads everyone else to the promised land, kicking and screaming. Once you have a group with more than 10 people, 2-3 will be awesome, 2-3 will be absolutely atrocious (relatively speaking), and a whole lot of meh. This is true of whether its a softball team, a McDonalds, a factory, an infantry squad..etc., you will have the problems that you just described.

One, first know that the "problem" is not you, but just something inherent in the group dynamics of humans. Two, your job and success as a leader is how well you can motivate your group towards a common goal. Three, for each group, each person within the group, the motivation tactic is different. So it's very hard to outsiders say "do this and it'll work." It's an art not a science. Fourth, you will succeed with some girls, fail with others. Don't get too hard on yourself and treat the coaching as basically practice in leadership just as your girls practice their craft. You may feel overwhelmed in the beginning but with consistent practice you will get better.
 
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