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Daddy Ball – The Painful Reality of Youth Sports
What do I mean by “daddy ball”? I am referring to a situation in a youth sport such as baseball, football, soccer, hockey, basketball, or any other competitive youth sport where a father coaches the team and plays his son above where he falls athletically. In short, daddy ball refers to the coach’s son playing preferred positions or increasing playing time, to the exclusion of other, more athletically gifted competitors.
Having raised two children, I can say that there is nothing quite as painful as watching a coach play the game to promote his own child’s talents. When a game is played and it clearly revolves around the coach’s son, unless he’s the best athlete on the team, it’s dad.
In baseball, you might see dad’s ball coach’s son hitting ahead of players with higher batting averages, playing shortstop, or pitching often and not getting the job done. In football, it usually involves increased playing time and the quarterback or running back position or, in most short goal and goal scoring situations, mostly a kid gets a chance to be the hero and score the touchdown, of course, the coach’s son.
Regardless of the sport, the concept is the same: when a child gets play time or a position they don’t earn through their own hard work and athletic ability, or if others who can do the job don’t get the opportunity, then the child from the coach can play more, it’s daddy ball.
I believe that coaches who play their son above where he falls athletically are cheating their son, the other guys, the team, and themselves. What do I mean by that bold statement?
A coach who doesn’t earn his son his position has, in effect, trained the child to expect something for nothing. Moving on over time, the boy expects things to be given to him and has little incentive to put in the hard work necessary to beat other young athletes and actually earn what he gets.
Would that be the type of employee you would like to hire outside of the university? So I say, the coach who didn’t make his son really earn his place on the team has cheated on his own son.
It’s easy to say that the other teammates who may have higher batting averages, or were otherwise in a better position to play a spot, were cheated because the coach’s son was able to play him.
Young boys have few; in as high regard as their coach, if they put in the effort, have a good attitude, and can beat another kid, they deserve to play the spot.
A coach, who won’t play the best guy for the job to work on another agenda, improving his own son’s ability, shouldn’t be coaching the team.
The daddy ball also serves to cheat the team, as a team, because when guys aren’t playing where they get dropped athletically, the team will be less competitive and the guys will be less motivated. Resulting in a team that is not all it could have been.
Well, how does the coach who plays daddy ball fool himself?
A coach who puts his son above his athletic ability to the detriment of more qualified children has failed in his primary mission as a parent, which is to adequately prepare your son to leave the nest and fend for himself. When children don’t experience winning through their own efforts and truly competing, they suffer.
How do you avoid daddy’s dance?
The main way to avoid the dad dance is to coach the team yourself. But if you do, take a careful and objective measure of each child’s athletic ability and play accordingly, lest you fall into the daddy-coaching role.
One way to lessen the impact of daddy ball is to have your child part of a team led by a father whose son is clearly the best athlete on the team. In that situation, it will be difficult for the coach to play the son above the more athletic children.
Or if you can afford it, the best way to avoid daddy ball is to play your kids with a coach who doesn’t have kids on the team. This will be a paid professional trainer or someone who really loves the game. If you choose the paid coach route, ask the paid coach tough questions before joining the team, as some paid coaches seem to feel obligated to the parent who helps coach or assemble the team and you may find your child back on the team. same situation. you were trying so hard to avoid.
It has been my observation that coaches who play daddy ball are generally in denial about the situation. They usually have eyes for a guy on the team, their own.
Some coaches feel that by coaching the team they have earned the right to play with their child wherever and however they want and for the reasons stated above, I say, find another team.
Talking to dad’s coach has little chance of success because it involves his own son. If you talk to the coach, be very careful to keep the conversation about facts and not opinions.
In baseball, that may mean keeping batting statistics or another objective measure depending on the sport and the situation. You can give the coach the batting averages of all the players on the team and he’ll get the message without saying a word.
With dad’s coach, the best option for his son may be to finish the season and more carefully select another team next year.
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