Asst. Coach

I help coach a 10u travel team. It is my daughter's first year. The head coach had told all of the parents that he was going to bring in another player to help pitch because we only have one pitcher, who happens to be his daughter. When the tournament began, he pitched her like he said he would. When the elimination games started, he played this girl in the field over girls who were there all season. Many of the parents were obviously upset including myself. His reasoning was that teams do this all the time. I guess I'm wondering if this is acceptable, even at such a young age?

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What expectations were set?
by: Coach Dan

Thanks for your question. What expectations were set of the team at the beginning of the season? On the page about parents I spoke about setting expectations upfront. This is the responsibility of the entire coaching staff. Parents get upset when either their expectations are not met. This could include playing time for their child or when suddenly a "for fun" team suddenly plays like a "for winning" team (or vice versa). As a coaching staff (and this includes the assistant coaches), an expectation of playing time must be made from the outset. If this was not done, then parents will create their own expectations and the coach will have no ability to control the situation.

Even at 10U we had a pretty simple rule. On Saturdays, we would play everyone. On Sundays (elimination day), we would play our best players. Best players would vary depending on who truly was playing best both during the weekend and at practice. Why? Because this is travel ball, not recreation ball, and the players and coaches are spending the weekend trying to be successful. That means trying to win on Sunday. If the player brought in is better than what you have on the team previously AND she is attending all of the practices, then she should play. She is part of the team like everyone else. She paid her money and has the right to get her spot in the line up. If, on the other hand, she is a mercenary, meaing she did not pay, is not a permanent part of the team, then you have a whole different set of problems.

10u is very hard because it is the first time, for most players (and parents) that they are playing travel ball. The concept of "fair" has changed from everyone plays all the time to winning becoming part of the equation.

Let me ask a question: What did the players think of the new girl playing as much as she did? Did she improve the team? Perhaps did she make the girls who did not play as much want to "show the coaches something" of did they just give up?

My biggest concern with your question is that there were no expectations set upfront and now the team is starting to implode. If the coaching staff (you included) do not address this right now, you will not have to worry about a team for next year ... there will be no team. Parents who are upset about equal playing time will not come back. The better players will not come back because they will look for a more "competitive" team. And the new girl, who all she did was wanted to play and earned a spot, will now feel like a permanent outsider and will look for a team that wants her.

You need to address how you will handle the rest of the season. Are you looking to build a competitive travel team or are you there just for fun? When you decide that, then you can set the course for your team. By the way, that is why they have "A" level and "B" level tournaments.

Good luck!

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