Baseball Parenting Handbook

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After 14 years as a baseball parent, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I would have done differently if I could do it all over again, and I decided I wanted to help any new baseball or softball parent who is just starting out, to avoid the pitfalls that I, and other parents did not.

So I decided to put together my version of a “Baseball Parent Handbook” to list the “do’s and don’ts” of navigating your baseball journey with your kids so you don’t make some of the mistakes that I’ve made, and reinforce some of the positive things that I’ve found really work to make it a better experience.

"Children learn more from what you are than what you teach." W.E.B. DuBois

father and son playing catch

I’m going to list the “don’ts” first because those are the things that stick in my mind the most, and cause me some feelings of regret. And, what makes good sports parents isn’t always what you do, but what you don’t do. I’m not saying I have done all of these myself, but these are all things I have done or I have heard and seen others do.

Things you should NOT do:

  • Yell commands from the stands.
  • Make groaning noises when there is a bad play.
  • Talk about your kid's bad plays on the way home.
  • Talk about other players in the stands.
  • Badmouth the coaches to your kid or anyone else.
  • Talk about "Daddy ball" in front or your kid.
  • Talk about other players to your kid.
  • Complain to other parents about playing time.
  • Yell at your kid at the field.
  • Baby your kid during the game.
  • Tell the coach how to run the games.
  • Berate the umpires.
  • Get your kid to games or practices late.
  • Get overly nervous at tournaments.
  • Gossip in the stands.
  • Say you hate baseball.
  • Get in an argument or fight with opposing team parents.
  • Tell him or her they are too small.
  • Tell him or her they are too big.
  • Compare their athletic skills to siblings.
  • Say they are "stuck" in the outfield.
  • Buy expensive gear until they're older.
  • Skip your kid's games because the team is weak.
  • Depend on other parents to help your kid.
  • Get angry about losses.
  • Push them to play up. Why rush it?
  • Get private pitching and batting coaches before the age of 12.
  • Waste too much money on "scout" tournaments.
  • Worry about them making mistakes (they will).

Things you should DO:

  • Cheer for all of the kids.
  • Praise your kid for good playing or good effort.
  • Tell him you love watching him play on the ride home.
  • Wait until he has cooled down to make after-game suggestions.
  • Play catch with them at every opportunity.
  • Learn the rules of baseball so you'll know what's going on.
  • Talk to the coaches privately with any issues.
  • Go to every game possible.
  • Let your kid be responsible for his own gear.
  • Make at least one parent friend on the team.
  • Get involved by volunteering.
  • Be a coach if you can.
  • Encourage teammate friendships.
  • Do at least a couple of big away tournaments. They're fun!
  • Take tons of pictures and videos.
  • Model a positive attitude for your child.
  • Make sure you're on the same page with your co-parent.
  • See the bigger picture without sweating the small stuff.
  • Relax and just enjoy watching them.

With any luck, you will be able avoid most of the errors and get the win for an awesome baseball parenting experience. Just remember though, that no one is perfect and you’ll make some mistakes along the way. I just wish someone had told me some of these things before my kids started playing and I wouldn’t have had to wing it.

You would think most everything on this list would be obvious, but I’m always shocked at some of the things that sports parents do regarding their kids’ “careers”. They’re still kids and having fun needs to be number one when it comes to playing a sport.

baseball mom and son

Just remember that you are your child’s most important coach and there are a lot of things you can do to make his baseball journey super positive. Even with the mistakes I’ve made, through good times and bad, I wouldn’t trade the ride we’ve had for anything.

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4 Comments

  1. Alenka

    Well, hello from an ice hockey mom!

    Everything you said for baseball, applies to ice hockey. 

    Isn’t it amazing how some parents just don’t get the ‘stop yelling, now!’ looks? Honestly… It’s children playing, it’s not the Olympics (well, yet ehehhe).

    I love seeing mine and other kids succeed, but most of all I love watching them having fun and the time of their lives, no matter if they are winning or losing. 

    Ah, yes, being responsible for their own gear. We struggle with this, but reading your list gives me the renewed energy to ask everyone look after their stuff. Right now, I just run about collecting all the gear, and then collecting some more…

    Still, I don’t mind, because my kids enjoy themselves so much! 

  2. Clay Westfall

    There are quite a few helpful hints on your webpage.  I was always the quiet dad in the stands, but I sure have seen my share of parents with loud mouths screaming at everyone they could.  I think if more parents were to read your Baseball Parenting Handbook, the game would be a lot for fun for kids and parents alike.  Thank you for setting the bar when it comes to your kids and baseball.   Clay

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