Parents Should Relax And Enjoy The Game By JOSEPH MANISCALCO NY BlueFire Fastpitch Coaching youth sports for over a dozen years has brought me an immense amount of pleasure. Coaching parents during this same time period has, at times, been debilitating. Before my coaching days started, I was recruited and played baseball on a full scholarship at the NCAA Division I level and enjoyed many years of great teaching and guidance. This was 25 years ago, and parents did not appear as involved back then. So what happened? As a coach and mentor, I have dealt with parents, players, other coaches, administrators, college staff, recruiters, etc. During this process, I have noticed a consistent approach of indecisiveness, lack of integrity, lack of commitment and a lack of dedication at every level. Most of my knowledge comes from baseball and softball, but I have spoken to other travel organizations and there is a common denominator that permeates all of these sports’ discussions: How do you Control Parents in Youth Sports? ONE FORMER NBA basketball player identified it as a syndrome called Delusional Parent Disorder, or DPD. While not an actual diagnosed psychological disorder, I believe he really hit the point. Is it possible that everyone believes their child is the next professional athlete, especially in a sport like softball, where the professional network of players is substantially smaller than any other professional sport, and we are fighting to get back into the Olympics? Is it possible that everyone thinks they are getting a Division I athletic scholarship, especially when the research shows the percentage of those scholarships is a paltry three percent? If not, then what drives a
parent to work behind the scenes to destroy travel teams, encourage their child not to honor a seasonal commitment, fight with other parents and coaches about playing time, be sneaky and selfish about their motives, call coaches and newspapers to provide their child’s statistics on a piece of paper and demand their child plays more?
not thinking about her summer, but rather whatever was necessary from the employer’s perspective. She was hired directly after the interview. ON THE OTHER hand, I have consistently seen how youth sports can actually develop poor qualities, inconsistent characteristics, lack of integrity and commitment, and just pure bad behavior. This is usually the result of a parent permeating their views and guiding the child in the wrong direction or the DPD mentioned above. Parents simply fail to realize the poor example they are setting that will follow the child into her adult life. Some examples include changing travel teams midseason to seek out that “utopia” or the “winning team” or the “flavor of the year.” In my opinion, this behavior and lack of stability creates adults who will continue a cycle of disrespectfulness, lack of integrity and lack of commitment. As an adult, she will continue to go from job to job, because she was taught this is acceptable. In the end, that lack of stability will affect her socioeconomic building blocks and prevent her from solidifying relationships. In turn, this can lead to stress, depression, anxiety and a host of other problems.
IS THIS A LACK of character a problem we have in America generally or is this only related to youth sports? I am unsure we have an answer. But I am confident that we have identified a problem in youth sports and we should be very concerned with the example being set for teenagers and how to prepare them for the world. Youth sports can be the most rewarding, encouraging and worthwhile investment of time and energy for your child. It develops team building, dedication, commitment, desire and all the necessary ingredients to embrace the world we live in today. It should also develop mature respectful adults prepared for college and the work environment they will experience after college. As an employer who has hired hundreds of people in my professional career, I actually seek out the studentathlete. In fact, the percentage of student-athletes who receive an YOUTH SPORTS, if understood, interview with one of my companies grasped and taught properly, can is dramatically more than those who prevent many of these problems and are not student-athletes. instead develop confident respectful young adults who understand and MY BIAS MAY be a result of embrace challenges, dedication and personal experience, but so far it commitment. has worked. During the interview This provides an ample amount process, it’s quite simple to identify of stability, confidence and selfthe athlete who was guided by their esteem, which can provide more parents’ expectations and who were successful adults. team players with proper vision. Unfortunately, I have witnessed Recently, I hired a college student- and heard story after story of a child athlete, and, when discussing her playing on a team on Tuesday and summer hours, her response was being with a new organization on “whatever is necessary.” She was Wednesday during a season. Why
Joseph Maniscalco is the founder of the NY BlueFire Fastpitch travel ball program and coaches the organization’s 18-and-under gold team. He is a frequent lecturer and writer about softball and performance-related issues topics and regularly conducts mental training seminars. The former All-America pitcher at Fordham University, where he still ranks among the leaders on the baseball team’s all-time list, Maniscalco has been an NFCA member since 2006. Learn more about NY BlueFire Fastpitch by visiting www.bluefiresoftball.com.
is this allowed? Why do parents do it and why do travel organizations accept it? If this continues, the future of our society and the development of our culture as a whole is in more trouble than we can imagine. Sports are supposed to prepare our youths for adversity and allow them to embrace challenges with fortitude and conviction. Some parents will not allow this process to occur. The question is why and how we can change this? My recommendation is to let players play the game, coaches’ coach the game and parents be great spectators of the game. Positive Coaching Alliance (www. positivecoach.org) is a organization that provides extensive educational tools for parents and coaches. If parents can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the game, the results will be more favorable — both for the student-athlete and for the parent.