I know every situation is different yet the same but this seems even more different that I've read anywhere else. My son plays soccer as a second high school sport to baseball. He is a late bloomer that wants to play college baseball and is on track to potentially play some level. Not sure where that might be yet but he is a pretty decent athlete. He has a soccer coach holding a grudge against him for a perceived wrongdoing that I did to two of his sons as a baseball coach 2 years ago. I could go in to a lengthy explanation of what happened and what is happening but I'm not sure its even needed at this point. This post will be long enough. I'm not sure what else to do at this point or if I should even do anything. My wife is about to blow up at him. I've instructed my son to keep working hard and communicate and ask what to do and if he's doing it right. That worked for one game and was told he was starting the next game because he improved the things the coach wanted. We were surprised to hear that. got our hopes up we'd moved on, but then he got 10 mins to start then was done for most of the rest of the game. (It should be noted here that the momentum of the game shifted for the worse after that 10 min. my son was not the only to be subbed though. It just happens that my son tends to work well with some player that get whole games of time). Then the next practice he approached the coach and asked why his time was cut short he said "well I know your primary sport is baseball and that was a very physical game and didn't want to get you hurt for baseball." How kind of him.  So he didn't care if the primary basketball player he put in got hurt. ugh. My son was dumbfounded and didn't know what to say and I told him that he needed to explain if he was worried about getting hurt he wouldn't of signed up to play. He did that. And the coach responded with a selfish excuse....err I mean explanation about how he would feel bad if he put him on the field and he got hurt (Another player got a concussion that game). So now he has nothing to work on to earn more time and is just getting excuses which basically confirms the grudge as he's now just getting excuses. Son started last game to his surprise (wasn't told he would be until the pregrame announcer said his name) and was out after 10 min again. got back in the last 5 min of game. How do you have varsity starters get the some of the least amount of time on the team and not have a legitimate explanation to the player?

To compound the frustration, we've been told by numerous parents that they don't understand why he's getting treated this way or why he's not on the field helping the team more. and his teammates are making comments that they don't understand what is going on either. One team captain has said my son is the best player he's ever seen in the one position and doesn't understand why he's not there more. It sounds like my rose colored glasses are off, but I must be missing something because it looks like the coach is clearly hurting the team's chances of success by not playing my son. Its one thing to be a parent and think your son should get more playing time over other players for whatever reasons we parents come up with, It's a whole nother thing in my mind to have other players and parents and assistant coaches confirming those thoughts.

Is there anything else I can do but just keep telling son to play hard with the time he does get and let the coach crash and burn the team? I thought about offering to buy the coach lunch and talk about how his selfish motivations and emotional decisions have impacted the team in negative way....but I don't think I can do that solely on the fact that talking to this coach has been met with a brick wall by many more before me. This guy has run many of coaches out of their positions and is now in the hot seat that he criticized about so many before him. Its really sad to see how the programs have been degraded and so many other players do not support him for their own reasons. Maybe I'll just walk up to him and say "thanks for helping me teach my son how life is not always fair and that he's holding the team back for his selfish motivations, its making my son an even better competitor which will only help him succeed later on in life." Too much? Yeah probably. Vent over. 

Original Post

It happens every day.  Did you do something to his sons?  Have you apologized or ever discussed the situation that happened that he is retaliating for?  Some times parents need to stay out of the situation and some times they are the reason for the situation.  We say it here all the time that parents keep kids from getting playing time, scholarships, and other things.  If you are the reason and have never discussed it, then you need to talk it through.  You are wanting to take up for your kid and it sounds like he is taking up for his kids in his own way.  Right or wrong.

It may not apply to this situation, but the first step is to really look and make sure that your son deserves to be there.  Don't rely on what other parents or kids are saying.  If they are friends or yours or your son, chances are, they won't be completely honest.  They will not want to hurt your feelings or your sons.  

If you and your son really feel strongly that he deserves more time, have HIM schedule a time to meet with the coach and or any assistant coaches and plead his case on a performance basis.  You will never win the battle if you go at it from a personal standpoint.  I have had some disagreements on a personal level with a HS coach, and I Know its difficult.  Unless your kid is substantially better than any other options, he will be punished if you make it personal.

Venting someplace reasonably safe can help.  Done.  

Now, get to work and continue to be the parent he needs to see.   

"I've instructed my son to keep working hard and communicate and ask what to do and if he's doing it right."

That is the right type of advice.  There will always be hurdles to overcome.  Things will never be completely fair.  People are human.  Your son should strive to be the best he can be and work toward being so good as a player and a teammate that he leaves no doubt... that his skill set, work ethic AND attitude toward the coaches leave no doubt that he is needed on the field when the whistle blows.  That should be the sole focus.  It sounds like he is already aware of the situation with you and the coach's sons.  You and mom must make it a point to erase that from any and all discussion and any of the thought process.  Set the example.  Be the good parents.  Have him focus positively on leaving not doubt.   The rest will work itself out.  

Whether your initial incident with his sons had any merit or not, you and your wife are the last ones who should be vocalizing any claims of unfairness or retaliation.  If your son ultimately "leaves no doubt", it will be addressed by others.  As Wareagle said, your son may or may not be the exceptional player that other players and parents are saying... probably somewhere in between.  It is human nature that they are going to say the polite thing.  It can be difficult, particularly as parents, to decipher how much is factual and how much is common courtesy that comes with normal dialog at sporting events or about our children athletes.  

If, at some point, it becomes blatantly obvious that the coach is, in fact, going to continue to act on a grudge, then your son can find his soccer fix through rec or club, particularly since it is his second sport.  It can be hard to see in the heat of the moment, but making the right parent choices here and setting the right example is the bigger picture and much more important than the knee-jerk reaction of protecting the kid against perceived preferential wrongdoing by stirring things up. 

No excuses.  Get better, son.  Leave no doubt that you should be on that field.  Have you done everything you can to be that player?  ..that teammate?  Good.  Keep it up.  It will pay off.

My son attended a large classification high school. Outside football and track, swimming and water polo and multiple track seasons there were a lot of one sport athletes. Coaches believed their sport was THE sport. Baseball was his primary sport. He started varsity soph year. He made varsity soccer before the end of freshman year. Soccer was his best sport. Freshman year he was the starting point guard on the freshman basketball team. 

Soph year basketball parents were asking me if I thought he would make varsity. The team needed an unselfish point guard. They had too many shooters and not enough unselfish passers. My son had always been in search of the perfect pass. Plus the top D1 prospect on the team said my son was the toughest defender he had ever faced (in practice).

I came home from work and found my son slumped on the couch. He had been cut despite his talent due to not playing on a summer team (played travel baseball and attended soccer goalie day camp) and not attending any fall off season “optional” workouts (played soccer and travel fall ball). He did a lot of basketball work on his own in the driveway.

All season long a former NBA player with a son on the team told the coach he made a huge mistake. The team lacked a quality point guard. Parents and kids told my son and me constantly he got screwed. We took the high road. We attended games and cheered. He sat in the students section. Refs would ask him why he wasn’t on the team. He only said he was focusing on two sports. 

He played in the local youth rec league. The basketball coach allowed varsity end of the bench and JV players to play. My son ate them all alive. By junior year getting cut wasn’t something we ever thought about again. Having the winter free to work on physical development and his swing made him a better baseball player.

The soccer coach was ticked off my son was the only player on the team not playing elite summer soccer and looking for a college soccer opportunity. Whenever he got on my son he smiled and said, “Coach it’s no problem. (he was a goalie) Outside the 18 is like playing short (he was a shortstop). Inside the 18 is like playing third.”

My son was benched the first two games junior year. The coach tried to hand the goalie job to the senior son of the head of the local travel program. The kid played three years of JV. He had never played goal until that summer. After starting 0-2 with poor goal play my son was given the job back. The previous year they were 22-4 including playoffs. Most of the team was back.

So yes, this stuff happens. Blowing up on a coach doesn’t help. You deal with it or walk away. Actually, the kid deals with it with the coach.

Someday your son is going to get screwed and you’re not going to be there to help. It could be a college grade or getting passed over for a job promotion. High school isn’t too young for young men to start handling their own problems. Parents should only coach how to deal with the problem. 

Life isn’t always fair. Unless you’re A Ford you will never be Chairman of the Board of The Ford Motor Company.

When you get screwed do you wilt, toss blame and make excuses or find an alternate route to success?

 

Yes HS. Yes I know I don't want to make it personal. Nor do I even want to talk to the coach, I see very little benefit in that other than personal satisfaction which is not really of any value to me.

What I did to his sons was not give in to their selfishness, un-coachablility and parental attacks on playing time and positioning of them. Youngest never played on the big field had lots to learn and oldest made many costly errors on infield and flourished defensively in outfield didn't like being there. Never got a hit that year and refused to bunt despite probably being the fastest guy in the league. This guy attacked my coaching after just 1 game of play and quoted seniority as a basis of playing time and positioning for which I did not subscribe to. 'Tis ironic he doesn't either as a coach. There is a ton of other history but that's the basis of it

As far as believing what others are telling us.... We are not asking for input on our son. This is unsolicited input. There are a lot of people are just fed up with this guy as a soccer coach for many different reasons unrelated to my situation and related is some ways and there is a lot of upset parents, which there always is, but even the parents of the players that get whole games of playing time are complaining...its really a bizarre situation to me that I can't fully comprehend. Some of those parents are asking me what can be done to change things and I have no answers for them unfortunately. I'm just trying to fly under the radar so to speak and help my son work through his frustrations without making it worse for him and potentially help the team. My son knows the reason why he's getting mistreated and is trying to work through it without bringing up the elephant in the room. But it seems like this coach maybe wants that elephant to be seen...like maybe he'll get some satisfaction if I come at him, but I see that as pointless and not changing anything.

This article seems to sum up the mindset of this guy, Its quite scary how accurate it seems....https://www.competitivedge.com...ir-coaches-revisited

You haven't erased it yet...  

Don't leave that door open any more... when parents hold a door open, kids feel obligated to walk in and join.  Close the door.  Move on.  Have him focus on being the best he can be.

And, remember...  Sometimes, parents will mostly let go of these things and say all the right things.  But, there is still residue in the back of their minds.  So, the right words come out but the tone says something different.  It's not that hard to pick up on.  Our kids are very good at this.

Unfortunately kids figure out stuff we don't talk about through their own inquiries among their peers and ask questions. I'm honest with them so they are prepared for the unfairness they will endure and are not left wondering to figure out much later in life that people can be very mean and unfair even if they are "grown up"...and coach them to just keep putting in work because it will make them better than the others that are given opportunities and and don't know what its like to really truly want something and try for it.

My son is not that star athlete. He is biologically behind his peers, didn't hit puberty till 1 year ago when many kids his age hit it 2-4 years ago. It has always taken a lot of work for him to keep up with his age group. He works harder than many kids have to and we are just now starting to see that its paying off, this soccer situation seems like an unnecessary setback but looking far enough down the road it will likely help him. I would objectively (as if a parent could actually objectively judge anything relating to there sons and daughters) place him at probably number 7 or 8 overall on our 11 person soccer team. Meaning factoring all the qualities a soccer player might possess. Some kids are faster, taller, kick farther, etc. His speed is dramatically changed this year but is still seen as good but not great. He is next to last one off the bench for his positions on a 17 person varisty squad. Only 2-3 positions ever get subbed. Mostly 2.

Thanks for sharing RJM. Its encouraging we are somewhat on the right path. They aren't allowed to cut in our programs, So that would have been an interesting message sent if he would have been cut from both varsity and JV as he looked out of place on JV last year and ran circles around most kids they played against. We didn't say a word as he was getting some much needed time on the field to develop. He does very well this year on Varsity but is not that standout guy with mad speed and ball skill. He makes up for a lot in his decision making and the coach even told him he was the smartest soccer player on the team. If he was cut we would most definitely have sought other options for him to play or just did travel fall ball and likely would not have returned.

Perception is reality. Unfortunately, it's rare that people on different sides of an issue share the same perception.

Your perception is that you didn't let his kids get away with their "selfishness, un-coachablility and parental attacks on playing time and positioning of them." His may be that you unfairly benched them.

Your perception is that this coach has "selfish motivations and emotional decisions." His may be that your son isn't doing everything he wants or that he is standing up against parental attacks of some kind.

The best advice I ever got (and the hardest to follow) was that you should never assume you know what is in someone else's heart or mind. Don't assume you understand their motivations. Assume that if someone says "I want what's best for the team." they truly want that.

If someone asks why your son isn't playing I would go with -- I don't know, it's the coach's decision and I'm sure he has his reasons. That's really between my son and his coach.

And then let it be there. And vent here before, after and during games if it helps.

RJM posted:

My son attended a large classification high school. Outside football and track, swimming and water polo and multiple track seasons there were a lot of one sport athletes. Coaches believed their sport was THE sport. Baseball was his primary sport. He started varsity soph year. He made varsity soccer before the end of freshman year. Soccer was his best sport. Freshman year he was the starting point guard on the freshman basketball team. 

Soph year basketball parents were asking me if I thought he would make varsity. The team needed an unselfish point guard. They had too many shooters and not enough unselfish passers. My son had always been in search of the perfect pass. Plus the top D1 prospect on the team said my son was the toughest defender he had ever faced (in practice).

I came home from work and found my son slumped on the couch. He had been cut despite his talent due to not playing on a summer team (played travel baseball and attended soccer goalie day camp) and not attending any fall off season “optional” workouts (played soccer and travel fall ball). He did a lot of basketball work on his own in the driveway.

All season long a former NBA player with a son on the team told the coach he made a huge mistake. The team lacked a quality point guard. Parents and kids told my son and me constantly he got screwed. We took the high road. We attended games and cheered. He sat in the students section. Refs would ask him why he wasn’t on the team. He only said he was focusing on two sports. 

He played in the local youth rec league. The basketball coach allowed varsity end of the bench and JV players to play. My son ate them all alive. By junior year getting cut wasn’t something we ever thought about again. Having the winter free to work on physical development and his swing made him a better baseball player.

The soccer coach was ticked off my son was the only player on the team not playing elite summer soccer and looking for a college soccer opportunity. Whenever he got on my son he smiled and said, “Coach it’s no problem. (he was a goalie) Outside the 18 is like playing short (he was a shortstop). Inside the 18 is like playing third.”

My son was benched the first two games junior year. The coach tried to hand the goalie job to the senior son of the head of the local travel program. The kid played three years of JV. He had never played goal until that summer. After starting 0-2 with poor goal play my son was given the job back. The previous year they were 22-4 including playoffs. Most of the team was back.

So yes, this stuff happens. Blowing up on a coach doesn’t help. You deal with it or walk away. Actually, the kid deals with it with the coach.

Someday your son is going to get screwed and you’re not going to be there to help. It could be a college grade or getting passed over for a job promotion. High school isn’t too young for young men to start handling their own problems. Parents should only coach how to deal with the problem. 

Life isn’t always fair. Unless you’re A Ford you will never be Chairman of the Board of The Ford Motor Company.

When you get screwed do you wilt, toss blame and make excuses or find an alternate route to success?

 

Great story.

Here is a quote I found interesting:

"I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs, But how high he bounces when he hits bottom"

General George S. Patton

Your son needs to go up to the coach after practice and blindside him. He has to pull him and another coach to the side after practice and say coach what do I have to do to get more playing time? Let him answer and then ask why he's been getting pulled 10 minutes in if he's a starter. I assume that would be the equivalent of a SS getting pulled in the third inning. I don't like soccer and I have no idea how personnel or matchups work so I'm going to assume he's getting pulled for no reason. He should answer honestly and if he gets an answer that he doesn't like then he needs to ask what he should be working on. Then work on it. And when he does work on it and gets better you go to the other coach and ask why nothing has changed. If nothing changes then he doesn't like your son or the other guy is flat out better. 

Iowamom23 - Thanks for reminding me that everyone has a perception and they are all different. Sometimes hard to remember that. Especially when you have others confirming what you think you are seeing without asking about it. But yes our perceptions are different because our expectations are different. Having both the coaching and parent perspective should make something like this easier, but it doesn't really seem to help and might even make it more difficult. This coach knows why I benched his sons. It was communicated. They just didn't want to accept it. And I got many texts that season regarding the situation...and was directed to hand out more playing time at one point. That of course didn't go over too well with the rest of the team when I benched my own son to make room for more playing time of less talented older players.

The problem I have with assuming that someone says and wants whats best for the team is that when their actions and decisions clearly show something different, it sends a very different message to the team. Actions always outweigh what someone says to alter someone else's perception. I've never seen anyone say so many right things and then take actions to contradict what they say. I'm just not equipped to know how to work with (or rather just understand) someone like that....YET.

Venting helps, don't know why, but I might be able to make it through the season now.

adbono, why just soccer? Its a great sport that can really help kids stay active that don't have the patience or timing and coordination for a sport like baseball. But it has skills that transfers to baseball as well with timing and foot speed and coordination. The only thing I don't like about it is that the rules of the game are left WAY too much to judgement and interpretation of what is allowed for aggression. So every game is a new adventure on whether it will be physical based or skill based or somewhere in between. I prefer the skill based game but might be biased toward baseball.

pabaseball, We've already done that twice and the last time the excuse was he didn't want to get him hurt for baseball which was lame. How do you get better at not getting hurt? Just found out another coach overheard that conversation and was flabbergasted about it too.

He started again last night, made it 17 minutes. started 2nd half made it 7 minutes and got a few minutes at end again. Asked my son how he felt and if he felt he was getting what he deserved. His response was it was better but it still didn't seem right yet.  Told him then you didn't do good enough then to separate yourself from the other subs then yet. Keep at it. He's had 2 coaches now (HC and HC father-in-law) tell him he's doing really good but then in the same breath point out a single bad touch giving the impression they are expecting perfection from him while overlooking the lack of perfection on the players that never come out of the game. Its a difficult situation for him to navigate and figure out what the HC is actually expecting to see. Sounds like working at a job to me and trying to navigate what your boss really wants to see vs what he's telling you that he wants. ha. life lessons through sports they say.

My question would be, since you described this as payback for something you did to his kid, what the hell did you do to his kid that he feels tanking his own team is okay? It looks like you already said you didn’t play him, and if this is a “tit for tat” situation you either need to suck it up, transfer if soccer is that important, or quit soccer. That is how I see your options.

I will take this opportunity to say I think it is tougher for us as coaches/parents.  I was an assistant coach for varsity baseball and football and head middle school coach when my kids were younger.  I think it has somewhat changed my perspective as a parent for the good and the bad.  At times, I relate to the choices that my sons' coaches had to make.  But I also see the bad choices they make in relationship with my son.  I have had coaches that didn't play to win like I do.  They played everybody to some extent, even on varsity, and gave in to requests from supporters and administration.  They played kids that had no business playing but were good for the program or school.  They played seniors who shouldn't have been on the team much less play varsity.  I have been encouraged to do so by administration but have never given in to that because for one my livlihood was not dependent on that job.  I did it for the love of the game and to win. 

I have never completely felt like someone held a grudge against my kids but I have experienced the coaches who, because of our relationship and my sons good nature, felt like they could bench them for others who were not as good and "needed playing time."  They were right.  I never said anything but really had to bite my tongue a few times. 

This situation does sound familiar though in lots of areas of life.  I think there is a lot more of this in school ball than we would think.  But let me clarify one thing that has stood out to me.  The OP says his son is not the best.  I'm willing to bet that the coach would do otherwise if the OP's son was the stud.  Because he is a middle level player it is more acceptable.  He stated that he was 7 or 8 out of 11 so that position would be substituted a lot.  Even in baseball, I substituted my 6-8 batters and never my 1-5 no matter how they were hitting that day, unless it was just horrible.  I also can guarantee i would never bench my son if he was the stud to give a disgruntled parent the benefit of their kid getting playing time.   I would say this is a very prevalent thing in sports today.  Adults/parents not getting along.  I have a kid I do lessons for that went to another league because the dad and the other coach/dad did not get along.  The kids were the ones punished. 

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