Here’s a question I just saw on a parents forum — a friend of mine sent it and I think the answer is worthy of a blog post.
It’s only the second game in on this team, with 8, 9, and 10 year old boys. One boy has expressed his disgust at “being on a team with a bunch of idiots.” Today he told the coach’s son that the coach is “stupid.” And is extremely vocal when other kids mess up (instructional league, many just started).
Not sure if the coach is hearing this stuff or not. Should I say something to him? Just in general about trash talking, not singling the particular kid out.
This happens all the time in baseball probably more so than most other sports. In baseball a player who throws harder, hits farther stands out immediately. Also kids, even eight, nine, ten years old are constantly comparing themselves to others. Whenever I ask a team to figure out the best lineup and put the right kids at the right positions they get it right almost all of the time. It’s no great coaching insight when you put the kid who throws the hardest on the mound.
Given that, a player who has more skills can quickly get annoyed with other players. The right answer is to see if anything can be done to move the player to the next level. Leagues tend to like to put players at levels based on age, but that often has little to do with their development. Skills in baseball develop at vastly different rates and often have very little to do with age. If the player can’t be moved to the next higher league then some real work has to be done. The coach has to be told about this and honestly probably already knows as most coaches are not clueless to all of this sort of thing. The coach has to talk to the parents and turn this into a chance to be a team leader and not a team cancer. The coach has to be honest about the whole situation and also has to talk to the player to let them know he needs a team leader and not a team problem.
If you like this sort of blog, let me know at email@example.com and I’ll do more of them.