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Dear Overprotective Parent: Trust Coaches Like Coach Jeff

Dear Overprotective Parent,

When you registered your child for youth sports, you also signed your child up for failure.

The good news is that if you have a coach like Coach Jeff, he can turn that failure into future success; that is if you stay the hell out of his way!

I’ve been coaching youth sports for over 20 years and the vast majority of parents I deal with are amazing. I can handle the bullying-type because, like all bullies, if you just stand up to them, they go away. The ones that give me the most problems are the overprotective, helicopter parents who do anything in their power to prevent even the slightest discomfort for their child. These parents are destroying their child’s future.

Those of us who know baseball know that an average of .300 or better is the ultimate standard. What we sometimes lose sight of is that to bat .300, you need to fail in 7-out-of-10 plate appearances. Baseball is the ultimate sport of failure.

My son had the good fortune of playing for Coach Jeff in the ENLL Minor Canadian Division in the Spring of 2022. Coach Jeff is a great friend of mine and he asked me to help him out as assistant coach. My son loves baseball, but on this team, he was the smallest and least experienced of the bunch. He was playing against kids over a year older than him, and at the age of 9, that is a big deal.

It was a disaster. My son was the worst player on the team. We had 13 players and he was #13 in the line-up. One game he hit 9th, not because of his own doing. Four players were absent and we had no choice.

My son struck out a lot. He struck out so many times that even grandmothers were getting annoyed. After grounding out to the pitcher, my wife overheard a grandmother say, “Well, at least he didn’t strike out!”

Watching your son fail in front of a crowd of angry grandmothers is heartbreaking. Watching him sit at the end of the bench crying is even worse. Your every impulse as a parent is to want to take away that pain and let him quit. After every game, he would be in near tears and tell me how much he sucked. I tried to tell him that even MLB players go through slumps, but he is no fool. During prayers one night, he finally broke down and said, “Dad, stop telling me I’m in a slump. I just suck at baseball. I want to quit.”

Enter Coach Jeff.

When my son was crying at the end of the bench, he wasn’t alone. Coach Jeff was beside him, arm on his shoulder, telling him that he still believes in him. The other inspiration was Coach Jeff’s son, Declan. Declan went through the same turmoil the year previous, and because of the great man that Jeff is, his son has the same qualities of empathy and support. Kids need someone outside the house to help them when they are failing. You, as the parent, need to swallow your own tears and let your child fail.

Coaches like Coach Jeff allow you as the parent to strengthen your own messaging, “If Coach Jeff still believes in you, you can’t quit.” You can reinforce his positivity at home and on the rides home. What the overprotective parent doesn’t understand is that Coach Jeff failed a lot as a kid - that is why he is a great coach. He can relate to the failure and, because he is not the parent, can be more pragmatic in his approach. I am not being melodramatic when I say this - swooping in and protecting your child from every little discomfort robs them of a stable future.

When we started the playoffs last year, we were the last-place team with not a lot of hope. We had a few runners on base and up steps my son. I’m on the bench and I can barely breathe. I’m at the point where I hope he gets hit by a pitch just so he can get on base. Doesn’t he smash one over the second baseman’s head for a single. I can’t believe it. There he is on first base, shaking with pride. Who is there to hug him?

Coach Jeff. Coach Jeff is just as elated as he is and they are both smiling and shaking.

Every “Coach Jeff” out there has goosebumps while reading this because there is nothing more thrilling as a coach to see your struggling players succeed. It doesn’t matter the sport, good coaches love to see their players develop and break through slumps or master a previously undiscovered skill.

My son got a double the next at-bat, went 2-for-3 in the game with 2 RBI, 1-for-3 in the championship with another RBI, and we won the whole thing!

Don’t think for a second that we don’t use Coach Jeff’s lessons in other aspects of life. When I coached him in hockey and he went a few games with poor results, we drew upon the baseball slump as a reminder that he will break through. We use it for struggles with homework, presenting in front of a crowd, or any other “slumps”.

I wrote about a 2022 story because last night we just lost in the same championship game. My son had a great season because of the confidence he gained through persevering, not quitting.

That is why I said it is not melodramatic to think that Coach Jeff has your kid’s future in mind.

So to all those overprotective parents out there, when you get a Coach Jeff, just stay the hell out of his way!

Coach Waldo1947

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