Author: Jayson Eljawhary

It is very common for athletes to participate in additional training away from their teams during the off-season. Whether your child is in house league and looking to develop the fundamentals through clinics, or your child is in rep and participating in private lessons, the goal is the same: as a parent, you want to see your young athlete develop – its safe to say that most coaches want to see the same.

Most coaches involved with minor baseball are volunteer parent coaches doing the best they can with the resources they have. It is always important to consider and respect this fact. With that said, there is a common concern among parents who invest externally in their child’s development: team coaches ask their kids to make adjustments that contradict the instruction of the coaches conducting the external training. How do we handle this? Is it worth bringing up? How will my child handle conflicting feedback?

How you handle this issue depends on the circumstances around you – who your coach is, how approachable they are, how they run their team. As parents, it is instinctive to want to protect your child and their development, but how we communicate this concern can potentially have an impact on your child’s playing experience. Let’s look at three ways to ensure your child’s development remains a priority while minimizing any resulting fallout:

Communicate Your Child’s Training Plan To Your Team’s Coach Immediately

If you know that your child will be doing additional training away from their team, let your team’s coach know immediately. This is also a good time to disclose any goals you would like to see your child meet, either by the end of the off-season or regular season. Make it clear that your reason for training externally is not to undermine your coach, but to give your child additional reps. This will show your coach respect and increase the potential to collectively collaborate with your child’s coaching staff to maximize their development.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Why

If you or your child does not fully understand the reason for why your coach is asking them to make certain adjustments with their swing or delivery, don’t be afraid to ask why. Be careful with how you phrase your question – what you say isn’t necessarily as important as how you say it. It can be acceptable for both parent and young athlete to ask their coach to elaborate on reasons for wanting certain adjustments to made, as long as it’s done respectfully. This will show your coach that you are receptive to their instruction, and have a vested interest in their program, regardless of any confusion/uncertainty.

Talk To Your External Training Coach

If you are seeking further clarity, it is important that you communicate with your external training coach. In a respectful manner, let them know what your team’s coach has been trying to communicate to your child. Most of the time, there will be similarities in the message that each coach is trying to relay, with the difference in the delivery being based on each coach’s individual experiences. This not only gives you the ability to seek a more complete understanding of the message, but this will pave the way for a respectful conversation with your team’s coach about the difference in philosophies, and the ability to find common ground in each coach’s perspective. It is possible that both coaches are arriving at the same conclusion through difference experiences and take a different approach to get the same result. This will also increase the chances for collaboration without any negative fallout.

There is one common theme in your approach through all three points mentioned above – respect. When the conversation has the foundation of respect without any emotion or undermining of one coach’s direction and ability to teach, positive communication can occur. Following these steps will be far more proactive than choosing to ignore your team’s coach, as this will likely lead to your child being labelled as uncoachable, lead to a lack of playing time, being cut the following season, or all of the above. These steps will also create clarity for your child while setting them up for future success by teaching them how to problem solve when receiving conflicting forms of feedback without hindering their position on their team!