How Do I Handle Win-At-All-Costs Parents?

We’ve all heard them from the bleachers.  Some scream it, some grumble it, some gossip it.  There will always be parents obsessed with winning.  Our society is obsessed with winning.

If you’re trying to coach the right way though, you’re not always going to have your team in the best possible position to win.  In youth baseball, you have to work on development.

We all love to win.  It feels good.  I’m very competitive and always strive to win.  But as a youth baseball coach, I define winning as seeing smiles on my kids faces.  If the boys I coach love the game of baseball, I have succeeded.  Another example of winning is improvement on and off the field.  If you’re coaching in a way that allows the kids to enjoy the game, while improving themselves, you are winning.

Not all the parents will see it.  Some will look right past their kid’s smiling face at the disappointing digits on the scoreboard.  These parents will be wondering why you don’t have Johnny pitching because he throws the hardest.  They’ll wonder why Andy the stud fielder is sitting on the bench for an inning.  In their eyes, the boys should all be in positions to help the team win.  Because winning is everything.

Winning might be everything.  But you must define winning correctly.  Winning in life isn’t always represented by scores.  I have a happy family, I am winning.  My son loves baseball, I am winning.  Winning is important.

So you have a parent that judges winning by the scoreboard.  How do you handle that parent?  Very carefully.  You’ll have to explain that you are coaching with development in mind, and you don’t want to sacrifice player development to gain an advantage in games.  You’ll also want to assure them that you do want to win and enjoy winning, but you’re just trying to do what’s best for the kids.

Having this conversation could tempt a few parents to run for another team.  Some will advise you that you’re better off to let them go.  But if you can continue calm conversations with these parents, possibly through email or on another day, sometimes you can help them see the positives to your methods.

Winning baseball games does have its merits.  Kids need a dose of confidence.  Putting together a winning tournament or winning season can create memories that last a lifetime.  They can create memories of success to bank on when striving for success in the future.  It might not even be a baseball game.  At some point in your life, you’ve looked back on a successful moment and it made you feel good.  Everyone needs those moments.

On the other hand, handling failure is something ever child should experience.  If you can handle failure, you can use that to drive yourself harder.  A team that wins all the time is a team that needs to find a dose of tougher competition.

You’ll want to address this situation swiftly and calmly.  To coach the correct way, means you’re going to have to swim against the current sometimes.  Don’t let one parent’s opinion spread throughout the team.  Communicate your goals, and then do your best to achieve them.

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