In Coaching: Good/Bad/Unfair, Winning/Losing

She was just 15 years old and a pretty talented little pitcher. Under “normal” circumstances, she was a competitor who usually kept her head on straight. Handling pressure wasn’t a big deal for her. However, THIS was!

Right before each and every pitch she threw, the same girl from the other team loudly called out to her teammate batting where she thought the pitch was going based on where the catcher was setting up! “INSIDE, LOW! OUTSIDE! HIGH! LOW and OUTSIDE!” etc, This girl’s call came right as the pitcher was smack dab in the middle of her wind-up. It was timed to be a distraction and it was certainly being quite effective. As you can imagine, the pitcher was getting annoyed and began angrily staring at this kid. Undeterred, the girl kept it up, calling out the locations even louder.

Predictably, the pitcher’s anger and distracted concentration led her to walk two batter’s in a row. This only served to make her even more frustrated and angry, thus distracting her even further. Emboldened by her “good results,” the caller enthusiastically kept it up until the pitcher had to be taken out of the game in tears.

When the coach complained to the umpire about what he felt was not only blatant gamesmanship but unfair distraction, the man in blue shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “What can I do, they’re not breaking the rules?!!” Then the coach bitterly complained to the opposing team’s coach, the man who was directly responsible for his player’s timely distractions. His response was precious: “It’s just softball coach. It’s how the game is played”

Not surprising, this same coach encouraged his team to talk trash throughout the entire game. “This pitcher sucks, and let me tell you why. She is UGGGLYYYYY! I mean REALLY UGLY!! HECK, SHE LOOKS LIKE A MAN!”

OK, so let me get something straight here because I’m just a tad confused. We’re talking about 15 year old adolescent girls. We’re talking about an age when kids are naturally hyper self-conscious about their body, their attractiveness, their intelligence, their self-worth. It’s a time when girls are painfully unsure of themselves in the world and ultra sensitive as to what other’s think of them. Their self-esteem is normally on shaky ground and they’re trying to figure out their identity.

So “COACH,” please tell me! How is this cruel, insensitive garbage that you are encouraging your young, impressionable players to spew, part of the game of softball?! I’d really like to know coach if being able to deal out this kind of verbal abuse makes your players more valuable at the plate? Does it raise their batting average? Does it help them field and throw better. Does it increase their chances of getting a college scholarship?

Better yet coach, please tell me how the “softball” that you’re teaching these kids is going to help them to become better people in the world? Tell me how it will help them learn to respect their opponents?! Tell me how it will help them to be a good sport, play within the rules and strive to win fair and square?! And while you’re at it coach, please help me understand how your version of “softball” teaches your players to develop a sense of honesty and integrity about themselves in the world?!

And one more thing if you will “coach,” (and I use the title quite loosely here), please tell me how your gross distortion of the game of “softball” teaches your young, highly sensitive and impressionable athletes a healthy perspective of the game, winning and losing, and what’s REALLY important in sports?!

I imagine that you must have felt pretty darn good about yourself and your fine coaching when they had to take that little 15 year old off the mound in tears! You and your players certainly made her day! Kudos to you for a job well done! After all, your brilliantly coached team came through for you and won yet another game for your ego! And that’s the only thing that really matters here anyway!

Certainly you must feel a sense of pride for that and why not. Besides. the opposing pitcher was mentally weak and as I always like to say, “if you can’t stand the heat, you shouldn’t go near the fire.”

After all, it’s just softball! It’s how the game is played!


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