In our latest installment of Do’s and Don’ts, we look at some of the common mistakes that parents make while at the ballpark. Parent behavior can be a big red flag at the ballpark and you don’t want to be labeled as a “helicopter parent,” or worse, by college coaches. In this post, we’ll share what you may be doing wrong while watching your son’s games, and what you can do instead. Preventing these mistakes will help ensure that your behavior is not interfering with your son’s recruitment.
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Don’t: Coach from the stands
Do: Watch, cheer and support. Parents who are shouting instructions and trying to coach from the stands are not helping their sons get recruited. First, it’s a sign that the parents don’t have boundaries. And parents without boundaries often have kids without boundaries. Second, coaches will wonder if the player can stay focused on the right things during the game and keep the attention out of the stands. Coaches want players who can stay focused on competing. By keeping your focus on cheering and supporting your son, you will give him the best chance to show he can compete and stay in the moment. Save the pep talks and constructive criticism for the car ride home.
Don’t: Abuse Umpires
Do: Umpire abuse is never okay. Not only does it give your son a built-in excuse for failure, but coaches also want players who respect others. They’ll likely assume if you don’t respect others, your son won’t either. Instead, talk to your son about things in his control that he could have done to potentially change outcomes often associated with poor calls. If he struck out on a 2-2 pitch, was there a better approach he could have had on his 2-1 swing-and-miss? Talk to him about staying in control of his emotions in the face of adversity. Things like, “Great job of keeping your composure on the called strike in the other batter’s box” are much more helpful than, “That umpire really ruined your at bat with that called third strike in the other batter’s box.” Things like that can really help your son learn to control what he can control, and control his reaction to what he can’t. Finger pointing at the umpire is an excuse college coaches don’t want to hear.
Don’t: Carry your son’s equipment
Do: This may seem like a small thing, but it’s not. Your son should carry his equipment himself. You may see a parent helping his son as a loving gesture, but a college coach sees a player who is pampered or coddled. It’s a big red flag. If your son can’t shoulder all his equipment, college coaches will doubt he can shoulder the work of being a college baseball player.
Don’t: Bring food or drinks to the dugout during the game or warm-ups
Do: Help your son learn to prepare for games in advance and have everything ready to go. This may seem like another strange “don’t” but to college coaches, it’s a sign of an overbearing parent or lack of preparation by the player. In college, you may take a road trip where you will have to pack for several days or even more than a week. If you can’t pack what you need for a day of baseball ahead of time, college coaches will wonder if you can take responsibility for a college baseball road trip. Help your son learn to plan ahead. Planning ahead with food and hydration will also pay off big with gains from the weight room and should be part of your son’s overall plan, especially during long Summer days at the park.
Don’t: Have lengthy, unprompted conversations with college coaches
Do: Say hello and exchange greetings with coaches you know. If you are not sure, it’s even okay to ask a coach you don’t know what school they are from. Keep it short. If a coach wants to strike up a longer conversation with you, let him take the lead. When you talk a coach’s ears off unprompted, you make it harder for them to do their job and you also could put them in a difficult spot because many times those conversations are a violation of NCAA rules. Say hello, keep it short and let coaches lead the conversation.