New Coach Seeking Advice

Just for a little history of how I got here (meaning coaching varsity baseball and here to this forum).  Sorry this is long, but I want to give some context;

I have a son that is a Junior this year and has always wanted to play baseball.  He was a phenomenal soccer goalie through Junior High, winning all district honors.  We are in a small school district and do not offer baseball until High School with a very limited parks and recreation program that really doesn't offer much for baseball besides a league that is just show up and play.  We could not afford a travel ball team so he had to wait until his Freshman year to play baseball.  Being a supportive father and not pushing his decisions I supported him dropping soccer to play baseball, that was made a little easier by having a daughter that formerly played for this soccer coach and my son did not like how he treated her through her varsity years).

This team had at least 5-6 different coaches in as many years since I have been involved in the school and in the last two years my son has been on the team, we've finished the season with barely enough to field a team.  Last season the coach pretty much stopped showing up (players literally nicknamed him "No Show") after the first game, canceling practice with it 75* and sunny because the field was wet.  This is where I come in.  After coming home and seeing my son home and not at practice on this kind of day I told him that I would step up and help.  I had already told the coach I would help and I had been helping at a few practices and kept books previous years.  So, midway through the season I basically became the unofficial head coach.

Last year was a rough season, we were in a very tough district and although most of the teams were gracious playing us we actually had one team score 22 runs in the first inning of the second game of a double header after beating us by 20+ runs in 3 innings the first game.  The season progressed to the point that through their hard work and willingness to be coached, we became somewhat competitive.  In both of our last two games we had a lead going into the 4th & 5th inning but a lack of pitching depth and costly errors kept us from being victorious. 

So fast forward to this season and the Director of Schools asked me personally to be the head coach as they work to find a coach that could provide some stability and build a program.  I used to be on the County School Board, served the last 4 years as the FCA Team Chaplin for the football program, served as the Touch Down Club President for the last 2 years and am now the Area Director for FCA for our County so the students are well aware of who I am and I have a great relationship with most all the student athletes in the system.  Because of this I started recruiting within the halls, we may not have a baseball program but we are a school that is littered with a wealth of athletic talent just waiting to be tapped into.  At the end of last season I literally called the Athletic Director the morning of our District Play-off game and added a kid to the roster because we were only going to have 8 players.  As of right now I have 23 student athletes committed to playing baseball and many of those have committed to our preseason workouts.

So, that leads me to my question. My job/role is simple.  I do not want this position long term, I am here this year and potentially next year as my son will be a senior but my goal is to build this program in such a way that it is ready for a coach to come in and be successful.  I do have an assistant that has experience as a head varsity baseball coach from a small private school and ideally he will be the candidate to take over if he shows he has what it takes. 

With many here who have decades of experience, what is your advice?  We are a low income rural community, so there are obvious funding issues and baseball is a non-revenue sport where we are and probably always will be.  I worked with a local uniform shop because I was told the coach last year cut players because he did not have enough uniforms.  I put together a players pack that was only $109 and at least 15 or the 23 could not pay for the players pack.  Fortunately the AD and I were able to find enough uniforms, guess the other coach just didn't want to look or didn't want to have more than 12 players, SMH.

Our facilities are not terrible but we are extremely limited on the equipment we have.  We don't even have a cage at the moment, but I am working with the Athletic Director and Facilities Director to see if we can rectify that.  Fortunately the Athletic Director is my best friend so I know he is working hard for me within reason of our budgetary issues. 

My plan is to drive in fundamentals.  This site has given me some good ideas on creating a high energy practice to implement some things keeping everyone busy doing the right things, not just busy.  I probably have 5-6 athletes who have never played baseball (crazy right) but several of those are gifted athletes, the task will be transferring it to baseball.  I have told the team that I do not expect them to win, I expect them to work hard and be competitive, winning is the by-product of hard work.  Fortunately I have been able to schedule some teams that we should be able to be competitive and with the talent we already have, potentually wins some games.  The AD (remember, he's my best friend) told me after seeing the schedule I was able to build that I may be in trouble because we could open the season 7-0 and the school beg me to take the job permanent. 

I have divided the team up into groups so that we can have everyone working at the same time and as little players standing or sitting as possible. 

I have 2 solid pitcher, 4 others that can pitch and 3 possibles.  Two catchers, one is a skilled player but is lazy, and he might as well be my step son so you know how well he listens to me.  I have a 3rd that has never played but is very athletic and does parcore, I'm going to see if I can train him as a catcher but as vital as the position is we will just have to see. 

So the advice I am looking for is general and specific.  General in the terms of what are some things that would be good to assist in establishing this program other than what I've already done in getting players to the field and second, advice on coaching a program that I hopefully have painted a picture for you as to where we are.  Also advice on the best place to pick up discounted equipment and what equipment might be good for the future of this program.  We should have a cage in the next few weeks and I am begging for an indoor cage behind our bleachers in the newly renovated gym so that we can take full advantage of those rainy spring days.

Original Post

I am sure your time is limited but some basic fundraising in the community might enable you to buy some basics. Easy ones I have seen work: local businesses make a donation in exchange for a banner on the batting cage or dugout. A home run derby where players get pledges per ball hit over the fence. A simple raffle where the winner gets a portion of the money collected so nobody needs to go out and get prizes. I will leave the actual baseball advice to the experts on this board

Louise, thank you for your reply but yes we are way behind the curve to start fund raising.  In the future there will need to be some of that done but as I mentioned, I was Football Booster Prez so I could not do it earlier in the year because of the conflict with football.  I think most of our "needs" are going to be met for stuff like some bats we need and hopefully our cage(s) but in the future it would be really nice to have some better equipment, a pitching machine that throws curves and pitches about 50 mph.

For the long term viability of the program you need to engage people willing to start a preteen and middle school age youth baseball program. It’s very difficult to compete if you’re teaching how to play the game in high school. 

MIDWEST MOM, thank you. I enjoy all forms of athletics and have always been involved, it’s what opened the door for my ministry with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

RJM, we do have a league in the county it just seems to have a closed atmosphere. We are starting a JH program at one of our schools which also means I will somewhat be sharing facilities although it is the HS field so we get priority and TSSAA rules say we can’t practice together or we would do some of our field work together. 

My church is currently evaluating constructing facilities to fill the void as well and I think that will happen in the next 3-4 years. 

This is a little out of the box thinking...but, you might want to do some research to see if its possible...some minor league teams "adopt a school/team/program"...Good publicity for the Milb team, goodwill in the community...Someone with grant writing experience would be able to help you...

My example: Hurricane Harvey destroyed our sports complex here in Rockport last Aug 25. Last week, the Round Rock Express (AAA Texas Rangers Team), Nolan Ryan & others in "baseball land" came together in a spectacular way to provide volunteer manpower & money! They are leveling & filling, building dugouts, lights, fences, seating, concession stand...You name it, this group, headed by RR Express, is doing it! 

Good luck!

Wow OB1 , you got your hands full. As far as your questions : Building a Culture at a HS program takes a lot of time and work. My son played played HS in Southern California at a public school in Los Angeles. It was a legendary program built approx 25 years ago. This coach like you started with nothing . He has since produced a Dozen MLB players( including  a current  big Name MLB Free agent ) Dozens of NCAA players and most importantly , Good responsible young men. Coach stepped aside last year. He was a living legend .

What coach did was rooted in John Wooden's 'Pyramid of Success ' book.  I strongly suggest you buy it.

My son said Coach had 3 rules :

Be on time

Do the right thing

Do things the right way

Sounds simple. My son said it was extremely difficult. Those rules were mandatory . 5 min late to practice ? You run laps. 5 min late to a game ? You run laps and sit. Do the right thing? Walk by a bunch of trash in the dugout and not pick it up ? You got hollered at. Do things the right way? If your field maintenance was watering the field , and when you finished the hose wasn't rolled up nicely you heard about it.

All that transcribed to the field . Miss a sign while hitting . You heard about it. Do it again? You sit a game. Turn the double play from the wrong side of the bag?? Hollered at immediately .

It all starts with a philosophy . Building a new successful culture is about building discipline and enforcing a few simple rules. That eventually will translate into wins on the field but most importantly it teaches young men to be accountable for all their actions on and off the field.

As far as baseball goes, Practice etc. Coach had another philosophy : PLAYERS are responsible for Daily field maintenance . Every player has a specific Job. Also, EVERYBODY pitches and EVERYBODY learn how to lay down a bunt and EVERYBODY learns how to run the bases. Period.

Also, there are no 'Free Swingers ' There was a mandatory team '2 strike approach' rule. Hitter has to see 2 strikes before he loads up to hit.  This forces opposing pitchers to throw strikes ( Which most HS pitchers don't ) and also runs up the pitch count. It also gets your team a ton of walks. all AB's are controlled via Signs from 3B coach. Every pitch ........Same goes for pitching . Cather looks into the dugout for your sign for every pitch. No exceptions.

Practice is all Defense, pitching and base running. Everyday. Very little hitting . Players want to hit. At my sons school you hit on your own time. They did some hitting via scrimmages but not enough for guys to stay sharp. With where you're at with a start up program and probably a lack of talent you might tell guys that you'll stay after late and throw BP if they want to hit. But make no mistake, Pitching and defense wins at the HS level. Spend 80% of your time on that .

The HS team that makes the least amount of mistakes win games. It's all little ball. Draw a walk. Bunt runner to second. Passed ball runner advances to 3rd. Next player bunts w/ safety squeeze , perfect bunt. Over throw to first. Runner scores. 1 out 1 on and 1 in. That's how you win at the HS level.  FYI:Bunts cause chaos on a baseball field. Most teams are not efficient at fielding bunts. Lot's of overthrows and madness . You don't need hitters , you need quick smart players who are disciplined enough to follow your signs and hustle .

With infield drills , it wasn't about hitting balls around the infield with a fungo.....All infield gloves at their positions with a pitcher on the mound and a runner at 1st. Pitcher shadow pitches imaginary ball to home. Runner is supposed to watch his front foot . And go based on what instructions you gave him . You ( coach) then hit a ball to short or whatever and verbally coach the play in real time . Reinforcing or correcting the baserunner and critiquing the infielders . There is ALWAYS a baserunner. You are teaching both defense and baserunning simultaniously ......all the time.

Everyone throws a bullpen. Once you see EVERYONE throw a pen you don't take the best 3 and pitch them . You take those 3 and 4-5 more of the 'B' or 'C' guys and you teach them how to pitch . No breaking pitches. Just Fastballs right over the plate. Your goal is to get the 'B' guys to throw strikes. Period. Velocity ? No, you'll take 70 MPH straight over the plate. And no big full deliveries like they see MLB guys on TV do. Everyone pitches from the stretch. Everyone has a real short stride to the plate. Just a notch past how they look playing catch. That's it. HS ball is about throwing strikes . Teams lose games in HS not because they lack hitters . They lose games because they can't throw strikes.

Pitchers throws bullpens 2-3 times a week. Every week like clockwork.

As far as long term goals its all about fundraising . Sell banner advertisement to local business to hang on the fences , Do team Car Washes, Create Donor letters kids can send to relatives . Dinner nights at local pizza places willing to do a % fundraiser . All that .

You might also consider a ' Study hall' night . Where after practice they stay and do homework as a team for a few hours . It also allows you to have them in a classroom with a chalkboard so you can continue teaching the game .

Pound the fundamentals of defense : Pitch the ball, catch the ball and throw the ball to the right guy .

 

Good luck!

 

 

Tough position to be in.  I agree about forming a culture, after all, isn't that something the football team prides itself on?  Aren't they a brotherhood?  Don't you want that same feeling on the baseball team?

Inspirational speakers over dinner can bring a team together.  Usually you can get people to talk for nothing from a local church, or a former high level player.  My son was particularly moved by a speaker last year who had a full D1 football ride until during his senior year he got drunk at a party and dove into the shallow end of the pool and broke his neck.  Paralyzed for life for a stupid teenage mistake is a hard lesson to learn, I'm very happy he chose to share his story.

As for the dinner, I've had a LOT of good success with getting local restaurants to give the team food.  Sometimes they outright say "You have $500 to spend", and other times they give us one meal and we pay for another, both parties get something from that deal, or they are willing to host one gathering at their restaurant on a random Tuesday when it isn't busy.

We have a local car dealership that donates one car for 7 high schools to raffle off.  Very large pool, but the schools get to keep the money for what tickets they sell.  Tire place, fast food place, local banks, lawn people, eye doctors, ice cream shops....etc.  They can all donate, and it becomes more attractive to donate if you are a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization, which means their donation is tax deductible, like if they donated to a charity. Is your club set up that way?  How about hosting travel ball tourneys at the high school field?  Charge $200 a day for the field and we, the parents, man the concession stand in shifts and keep those profits too.

Sad to say but you need money first, everything else will come after that.

Great advice coming, I love it. 

StrainedOblique, excellent advice!  Many of the things you have mentioned is exactly what I’ve talked with the team about. Starting with field maintenance. Although our facilities are not bad they are terribly unkept, junk everywhere, equipment everywhere. One day in the fall after I had gotten my duties done on the football field and was waiting for game time I went down to take a look at what equipment needs we had so I could get a head start on requestioning equipment. I can’t even begin to tell you how bad it was. Baseballs all over the field, wiffle balls all over dougout. Tee’s broken. Field tarps wadded up against the backstop...shambles. In our preseason meeting we discussed this and I informed them that part of baseball until you reach a level where someone is paying you to play you have a responsibility to keep up and maintain the field. 

One of the others areas we’ve already discussed is errors. We’ve had discussions about the dynamics of baseball and how it is such a skilled game and a game in which you must know what you need to do in various senerios and understand the philoshy to anticipate what is coming. We have also discussed that baseball is the only sport that errors are so vital to the game that it is part of the score board. Reduce the number of errors and increase the possibilities of scoring runs and keeping runs from being scored. 

I love the 2 strike rule and think that is a good way to implement discipline at the plate even in BP. 

Thank you all, keep it coming. 0181E365-4E3C-411E-A73A-B966BAE57511FAE7C664-47B0-40B8-BB07-2A57D3E48B8A42DF3967-8B13-478F-B8F8-36F9DBBF1AF6

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Dude, those pics are great. You're ahead of the curve. Playing surface appears to be absent lips, which is huge. Get the district to buy clay and Turface and get you a sodcutter and go to work. You can rent them for about $40 for 4 hrs at Home Depot if needed. Mound looks to be in decent shape. Use the sodcutter and more clay (turface optional) to make it bigger and get some bagged clay to finish it off up top and tarp that sucker up.

 

 

OB1: "One of the others areas we’ve already discussed is errors. We’ve had discussions about the dynamics of baseball and how it is such a skilled game and a game in which you must know what you need to do in various scenarios and understand the philosophy to anticipate what is coming. We have also discussed that baseball is the only sport that errors are so vital to the game that it is part of the score board. . "

Baseball is a hard game, and it's a head game.   Speeches about ERRORS are counterproductive.

 

 

......Also, I forgot to mention this . There are historically three types of HS programs :

1) The Coach runs it

2) The Parents run it.

3) The Players run it.

If you want a program that YOU run. The parents are to be seen but not heard. Our coach held a mandatory meeting for parents once a year. He spelled out for us clearly but also politely that he would not tolerate in input from Parents regarding playing time, position played , Batting order spot or any other madness that most HS parents try to chime in about.

The only time you should hear from parents is if it involves the following :

1) Fundraising

2) Player health issues

3) Player academic issues

You will in fact need a team mom. Or I suppose the politically correct term now is ' Parent Administrative Facilitator' . This is important. You feed all game times, Practice schedules, Fundraising events to this person and THEY email the Parents. You should never Email these things . The parents are responsible for themselves just like the players.

Saw your pics. Field looks more than workable. A lot of fencing to sell banner Ads.

Just a tip , Go the Art Dept on Campus and the Art students, teacher get the paint and your players on THIS ( See pic ) right away. It builds school pride and team pride if the dugout is nice. It also sends a message to your opponent that they are VISITORS in YOUR HOUSE. It's a very inexpensive way to Improve your Culture

 

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I agree the field looks good, just needs some sprucing up.  We have a parent/player field day.  The concession stand, dugouts, batting shed, all get cleaned.  Trees are pruned, new turf was laid in the batting cage...last year we actually removed a tree and one of the dads is a carpenter and he built shelves in the dugouts.

Agree you need a coordinator. Food for players before games, sponsors, fundraisers, equipment maintenance....they all need people.

We, the parents, also went through a meeting with the coach.  We were politely told to enjoy watching our kids play....don't bring anything to the dugout, don't question our game decisions, and have a great year, lol.

FREDDY77, I agree that getting onto players about errors can be counter productive, I had that discussion with the coach 2 years ago who was a football coach and thought it was a good idea to harass players during a game when they made an error, I told him that all it will do is produce more errors because you put undo pressure on them in a playing environment.

Yes, our field is actually very good and could be great with some work and investment.  We have a new facilities director for the school system (also a friend of mine) and he and the AD are discussing paying an athletic field management company to come in and do all the sod cutting and get the field where it needs to be now that we have people who understand maintaining the athletic fields.  I promised him that if they did it I would insure that the team would be taught how to manage and maintain it as well as help his crew understand what little things need to be done in the off-season to keep it up. 

I have little options when it comes to team parents because most of these kids come from an environment where they're parents don't even come to Senior Night.  However, I do know at least 4-5 of their parents that are willing to help, they just need to be asked.  

"Also, there are no 'Free Swingers ' There was a mandatory team '2 strike approach' rule. Hitter has to see 2 strikes before he loads up to hit.  "

"I love the 2 strike rule and think that is a good way to implement discipline at the plate even in BP. "

 

Don't do this.   This is not discipline. It is the opposite.   In some rare circumstances it *might* help the team win a particular game, but I don't see how it can help players develop at all.

 

Oh, and I have some clay and chalk, boy do we have some chalk, there’s a wheelbarrow full in my storage closet as well, not in bags, just a mounted wheelbarrow full. 

Oh, and we pain the lines now not chalk. 

Trying to just get a net for the cage frame and use some of that clay to build a bull pen mound by our dugout.

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OB1, email sent.  As an FYI, if you took 2 strikes against my teams, you would never see the 7th inning.  In fact, if you get that baseball close to that plate be prepared for take off.  I believe that in HS baseball, you only run into a shutdown pitcher in conference or tournaments and that really depended upon the quality of your conference.  

OB1, you are going to get a dozen different opinions but you have to know your own philosophy as well as your players.  If done correctly, your team will then reflect that.  Other than the hitting handout I sent to you, I think that you will find much of that stuff helpful.  I've changed some on hitting.  I will send you a couple of more things when I get a chance.  

A field/program belongs to the players and community.  The Coach is the caretaker of it.  We had mandatory assignments for our field and cages.  We also had mandatory assignments for our underclass.  For example, once a year, the freshman team had to come up and pull weeds.  We could have taken care of the weeds in multiple ways but the point was that they jump in and begin to get their hands dirty on that varsity field and begin their ownership of it.  Good luck with coaching.  It is one of the greatest experiences in my life and I hope it will be in yours.  

It was a decent preseason, I gave my returning players advice on what they needed to work on and worked heavily with pitchers and catchers. 

 

The season officially kicked of 2/12 and we’ve had 2 days we’ve actually been able to see the field due to flooding rains. Fortunately we’ve die. A lot of work inside with tennis balls.

We has 11 players last year, I’ve currently got 20 and somehow more pitchers this year than we had players last year. 

Thank you All for your advice and help. Tomorrow we open with our first scrimmage with a local rival that I intentionally left off the regular season schedule. Maybe I’m wrong for doing this but this program has seen less than 10 wins in 10 seasons so I built the schedule this year with at least 10 games we can win. Personally I think it’s easier to build a program when you’re winning, even if it’s against teams that are easy to beat. My thought is we’ll increase the competition as we increase our competitiveness. We’ll probably be destroyed in district play but our team needs to learn they can win and maybe if I build some excitement our school district will actually invest in our program. 

I got a batting cage donated, no we don’t even have a cage...sad right, but our facilities department still hasn’t put it up yet, too busy painting the weight room for the football team...UGH! (And I’ve been the football booster president for last 2 years). They just hired a new football coach so I guess the honeymoon phase is going to make our baseball program suffer, no surprise. 

Anyway, wish me luck as we open tomorrow tomorrow and next week with 3 local rival scrimmages with local private schools. 

On a great note, out of no where I had a freshman show up who played travel ball and is a catcher, the one position I was really concerned with. He’s a phenomenal athlete and an answer to prayer for the balance of this team. We may just have something here!

You're a good man and it's sad to see a school neglect a program the way they have with baseball at your school.  I hope you are able to turn things around and build something the community can be proud of.

As for the two strike philosophy I absolutely disagree with it.  It does not develop hitters and hinders an offense.  As bad as you guys have been in the past most teams are going to pound the zone with strikes because they know your guys are over matched.  Teach them how to hit and things will balance out where pitchers will have to actually pitch to your guys.  Don't wait on the other team to make mistakes - teach your guys to hit.

Saturday's scrimmaged turned out pretty good.  The team we were facing has a strong baseball program so I had little expectations going in, mainly wanted to see improvement from our team and not so much worried about the score. 

We scored in the first inning and stranded 2 runners...that in and of itself is a tremendous improvement.  I think it took us a few games to get a run last year and this year we not only scored...and I know this sounds odd to look at as a positive...we stranded 2 runners.

We hung with them for a few innings in-spite of my starting pitcher struggling to find the strike zone.  I wanted to get a look at everyone so I made the commitment to myself that I wasn't letting any one throw more than 50 pitches.  In the 3rd we struggled on the mound.  Probably gave up 10 runs through 4 pitchers.  We ended up getting out of the inning with a triple play.  It wasn't pretty but it was a triple play.

We weren't keeping score but you know the fans in the stands were, I think the final was 16-2, and that was with me allowing everyone to play and bat.  I probably have 4-5 kids that I've kept on the team just to build the program and have numbers and create, generate so excitement. 

We scored 2 runs, stranded 5, 3 stolen bases and 6 strike outs.  I feel pretty confident those numbers are competitive to the entire season last year. 

We scrimmage the same team this Thursday as well as another cross county rival.  I looking forward to it!  I was able to get a friend from church who pitched for Mississippi State to come out yesterday and work through some mechanics and pick-off moves yesterday. 

I just want to say thank you to this group for your help and your encouragement. 

May have been said already but Nike does a grant.  Usually they want it to be matched but I would look into some grants with different companies.  Also take to some baseball equipment companies like Marucci and DeMarni.  They may not do anything but the will almost always offer some good discounts and maybe even do a donation.

We had our second scrimmage with our crosstown private school rival and we faired pretty well, held them to 1-0 through 4.  After 4 I subbed out some players to see what else we had and pulled my starting pitcher to keep him under 50 pitches and things went south quickly.  Final after 6 was 16-3.  I did expect some of that because out of 18 players I may actually have 10 that would make any other schools team and half of those would probably never see the field.  But overall I did determine that we can be competitive with our starters.

Then Friday we went across the county for our last scrimmage with another local small private school, one that I thought we could be very competitive with and even actually come out with a victory.  I get to the school and get on the bus only to find that 5 of my players, all starters for this game were not there.  W....T....H!!!  This is a typical problem for the culture of this school.  5 years ago when we started building the football program the defensive coordinator told me he did know who was starting on Friday nights until 30 mins prior to kickoff because he never knew who would be there.  So, needless to say our focus now is discussing commitment.  We ended up losing 18-3 against a team we could have at least been competitive with.  Fortunately our game this week has been rescheduled due to the other school being on Spring Break and not having enough players, we may fact the same issue next week with two games scheduled.

Anyone have any good suggestions on building and developing commitment in a program with this type of culture?

OB1 posted:

 

Anyone have any good suggestions on building and developing commitment in a program with this type of culture?

I'd start a whole new thread. 

My only experience is my sons team, and you are either there or you don't play in several games.  There are also 20 kids behind you, and another 50 that didn't make the team, that would love your spot.

OB1 posted:

...

Then Friday we went across the county for our last scrimmage with another local small private school, one that I thought we could be very competitive with and even actually come out with a victory.  I get to the school and get on the bus only to find that 5 of my players, all starters for this game were not there.  W....T....H!!!  This is a typical problem for the culture of this school.  ...

Anyone have any good suggestions on building and developing commitment in a program with this type of culture?

Well, we can't really get started without knowing more about why each wasn't there and a bit more about the culture as it relates specifically to the no-show issue.   I've seen and heard about a lot of different struggles with program culture but no-showing for game day without a sudden emergency issue is really unusual.  I'll withhold further comment until you fill us in.

cabbagedad posted:

Well, we can't really get started without knowing more about why each wasn't there and a bit more about the culture as it relates specifically to the no-show issue.   I've seen and heard about a lot of different struggles with program culture but no-showing for game day without a sudden emergency issue is really unusual.  I'll withhold further comment until you fill us in.

One of the 5 had a valid excuse (in my opinion), his grandmother had passed away and he was headed to North Carolina for the funeral. 

One had a school field trip and forgot his uniform.
One had to help his grandfather move on Saturday so could not be there Friday?
Last two were going out of town. 

The commitment part, again my opinion, is also in regards to the parents.

I understand that part of our issue is we are an economically challenged county and some of these issues stem from that culture...it's just frustrating.  Since I am a dad coaching a varsity HS team, I am fortunate enough to be able to adjust my schedule with work so I have been going in at 6am to be able to leave by 2pm to get to practice and games.  Friday I got to work at 5:30am, left at 1pm for the game, got back from the game at 8pm.  Took a player home and went to get my side by side to roll the field, was on the field until 12:30am, home and in bed at 1:30am after finally getting some "dinner."  I get that not many students show the same commitment and hard work the coaching staff puts in and many of them don't have a clue how many hours we spend preparing for practices and games as well as extra hours running down equipment, fund raising or working on the facilities...it's just disheartening to see them let their peers down after they have all worked so hard. 

Just hoping to avoid this as the season starts.  We've all worked so hard just to have a few not take their commitment serious.

You want to change that culture, kick all 5 who missed the game off the team.  Maybe some leeway with just a suspension for a death in the family, but if you don't punish all, your culture will never change.   Everyone of them could have found some way to reach out to you and they didn't.  They don't respect you, the program or even baseball.

Take the hit now and get kids who want to be part of the program.  From there, you can start building your future on that foundation.

There is definitely something to be said for what TXCatch is saying although I also understand that your starting point of reference is likely far different than most.  Still, participation requirements must be clearly communicated by you along with the corresponding consequences.  Communication, communication, communication.  Then, expect the same back from your players.  Even most kids I know who are economically challenged still have cell phones.  For our group, if they don't, they are required to find other ways to communicate in a timely manner.  As Tx said, once those rules are established, you can't make exceptions for those who make you competitive.  In fact, it is all the more important that you are consistent with those players as to send the clear message.  Continue to preach the importance of the commitment as it relates to their teammates.  

It sounds like you are a long way from having things in place where you want them to be.  It also sounds like you are willing and able to put the effort into making that happen, to which I loudly applaud.  But, you will have to set some clear parameters and make some tough decisions along the way.

I know this is far from where you are now and your set of realities will be different from others but something to shoot for...

If I have a player who is out of school sick for the day (I, too, am an off-campus coach), I get a text from him early a.m. so I can adjust my practice plan if necessary.  They are expected to be committed to baseball first during baseball season including over Easter break when we play a tourney and over long weekends where their families and/or friends may be planning getaways.  They are expected to stay in front of studies and/or schedule tutor help around practice time.  Etc., etc.  When we first took the program, this was definitely not the thought process.  Some of this was put in place immediately.  Some was groomed over time.  There are still case by case allowances but the foundation of expectations and communication must be put in place.  Eventually, as the team becomes a bit more competitive, players will not want to miss games.  And in order to not miss games, they will not be able to miss practices without a very good proven reason.  My guys know that when they start saying "Hey coach, I am going to have to leave practice a bit early/be a bit late, it needs to be in advance and followed with a valid and verifiable reason.  Our culture wasn't great for the opposite reason as compared to yours... overly pampered.  So, undoubtedly, ours was easier than yours to set demands and hold them to it.  But I have seen the same done in scenarios like yours.

Keep at it !!!  Those kids will benefit in more ways than you can imagine.

Great stuff.  As for the no shows, I would at least require them to provide notice that they won't be there.  I wouldn't really care about the reason as you're player limited.  But failure to at least notify would lead to punishment. 

One note on the uniforms.  The dry fit T is a good uniform top alternative.  Generally cheap, players can keep them, use them for a few years.  Our freshman teams use them.  Until you get the budget for the "real" uniforms, could be a good stopgap. 

Good luck the rest of the way.   

Thanks TXCATCH and CABBAGEDAD!

I think there is obviously a health position to be found between kicking them off the team as well as not letting the inmates run the asylum. 

Part of the problem is that even the school does not make baseball a priority.  I got a text Sunday evening from one of my players saying him and 2 others would have to miss Monday (were supposed to have a game that has been rescheduled because the other team is on Spring Break and can't field a team...obviously not just me) because they had band practice.  Band practice.  BAND PRACTICE.  The school has a program Thursday to invite upcoming 8th graders to the HS and they have to have band practice to prepare and the baseball players were told if they were not there they would be cut, and would probably also effect their grade seeing that band is an elective class. 

I emailed the principal and band director and verified that they do actually have band class as an elective during the instructional day, I was correct.  I asked then, why are my players being forced to make a decision to go to either band practice or baseball practice?  They have classroom time, why are they now taking time from extra-curricular activities?  I asked if I could check baseball players out of band class to take BP...you want to guess how that went over? 

Another example, our Softball Coach who is a faculty member was told by the principal that she could not coach practice one day last week because there was an after school staff meeting.  I would have been like, "send me an email."  The issue is that they would not expect our football or basketball coach to be at that meeting if it were in their season, but softball, baseball, soccer, track, cross country, volleyball...they are looked at more like clubs than competitive athletics.

Sorry, some of that was just to vent!

OB1 posted:

Thanks TXCATCH and CABBAGEDAD!

I think there is obviously a health position to be found between kicking them off the team as well as not letting the inmates run the asylum. 

Part of the problem is that even the school does not make baseball a priority.  I got a text Sunday evening from one of my players saying him and 2 others would have to miss Monday (were supposed to have a game that has been rescheduled because the other team is on Spring Break and can't field a team...obviously not just me) because they had band practice.  Band practice.  BAND PRACTICE.  The school has a program Thursday to invite upcoming 8th graders to the HS and they have to have band practice to prepare and the baseball players were told if they were not there they would be cut, and would probably also effect their grade seeing that band is an elective class. 

I emailed the principal and band director and verified that they do actually have band class as an elective during the instructional day, I was correct.  I asked then, why are my players being forced to make a decision to go to either band practice or baseball practice?  They have classroom time, why are they now taking time from extra-curricular activities?  I asked if I could check baseball players out of band class to take BP...you want to guess how that went over? 

Another example, our Softball Coach who is a faculty member was told by the principal that she could not coach practice one day last week because there was an after school staff meeting.  I would have been like, "send me an email."  The issue is that they would not expect our football or basketball coach to be at that meeting if it were in their season, but softball, baseball, soccer, track, cross country, volleyball...they are looked at more like clubs than competitive athletics.

Sorry, some of that was just to vent!

Nope, those are valid concerns and not uncommon in many schools.  I think we all have a variety of similar "priority" issues with administration.  Things like the staff meetings can be overcome by having assistants in place that can run practices in your absence.  You took the right stance regarding the band issue (IMO).  At some point, the school/administration has to provide you with reasonable support.  But you have to be the constant voice and champion for the baseball program.

CaCO3Girl posted:

I hate to ask the obvious but....do they all have your cell number?

 Communication is not necessarily the issue as much as it is commitment.  They all have my phone number and we also use Team Snap. 

 I had several athletes within the school that thought they were just gonna show up on game day and play because they were athletes.  I solve that problem by telling them they didn’t make the team because they didn’t come to practice.  It’s a local climate and culture issue that treats everything other than football and basketball as pick up sports.  Very frustrating to say the least. 

I have a simple rule. There is no distinction between a practice or a game. They hold equal importance. If you miss you sit. If you miss again you sit double. If you miss three times you have struck out and see you later. You can have all the excuses you want to have. I just know this. I don't miss what is important to me. If it is not important enough for you to make sure you attend it's not important enough for me to keep you around. Once it's clear, well it's clear. You won't change the culture over night. You won't change it without opposition. You won't change it by being liked by everyone. But if you are consistent and fair you can change it. Good Luck

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