Coaches: Don’t Tell Kids They’re Going to Play When They’re Not

little baseball players in the dugout
little baseball players in the dugout

High on the list of frustrating things we have to deal with as sports parents is this gem. You wouldn’t believe (or maybe you would) how many times I’ve heard from parents that their kid’s coach said he was starting their kid or putting him in the game and then the kid doesn’t get to play.

This type of promise does a few bad things to a kid’s psyche. First off, it causes a huge disappointment for the kid who is really looking forward to getting in the game only to sit on the bench the whole entire time. Not only is that incredibly boring for that kid, it also helps to form his perception of what playing on a team is like, and that perception is that it’s not fun.

Secondly, telling a kid he’s playing and then not putting him in is a huge blow to a kid’s ego and self-esteem. You’re telling him on the one hand that he’s good enough to get in the game, and on the other hand, he’s not good enough. I’m not one of those people who thinks kids are entitled to everything and that their self-esteem is the most important thing on the entire planet. A kid should have to earn his spot on a team and work hard for it. All I’m asking is that you coaches don’t make promises you can’t or won’t keep.

People with good intentions make promises. People with good character keep them. ~ Unknown

I also think it causes kids not to trust the commitments of adults. A person’s word should be something that you can count on. Kids are very literal beings and and they take you seriously at your word. Try promising a kid that you’re taking him somewhere special and see what happens when you go back on your word. They never forget.

Look at it from the kid’s perspective. You tell him at Monday’s practice that he’ll be playing on Saturday. Wednesday he’s working his butt off to get ready for his big moment…shagging balls, cheering for the other kids, cleaning up the field. Then Saturday rolls around and he wakes up super excited that morning thinking about his big chance to play second base, only to wait, and wait, and wait, and then his chance never comes.

World shattered.

sad baseball kid

Sometimes a coach has a good reason not to put a kid in the game. Maybe it’s too close and they really need to win to make it to the finals. There could be several reasons, but kids need to be able to trust and respect a coach’s words, so promises that can’t be kept should not be made.

Kids are going to have to face a lot of disappointments throughout their lives, but I just think this shouldn’t be one of them. It’s pretty simple, in my opinion, for a coach to just train the kids and not make any promises. And if a coach does make that promise, he or she should keep it. 

Okay, rant over. 😉

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