Daily Short-hOPT: Who’s Really At Fault?

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” – John Wesley

Let me lay out a scenario for you. Put yourself in these shoes:

You’re a high school baseball coach. You have a player that you feel is undisciplined, mouthy and lazy. Throughout the course of your season, you have multiple run-ins with this player. You penalize him by making him run. You yell at him. You take away playing time. You complain to other coaches that you can’t get through to him and that he’s worthless. Your season concludes, and another season is on its way. The player in question has decided that he no longer wants to play because he doesn’t enjoy it anymore.

So, there’s the scenario, and here’s my question: who’s at fault here?

I know plenty of coaches that will immediately say this kid is a bad seed and that the program is better off without him. I mean, you tried running it out of him and yelling at him, right? Let me be as straightforward as I can possibly be here. If this is your line of thinking, YOU’RE THE PROBLEM.

“I firmly believe that kids and coaches must be held accountable. If that relationship can’t be mended and made to improve our program it falls on me, as the adult and mentor.” – Jeremy Baioni, Head Baseball Coach, Highland Heights High School

“But, Aaron,” you say, “we can’t just have kids running roughshod over the program.” You’re 100% correct. I’ve seen inmates running the asylum. I’ve been an inmate. I’ve been the warden when the inmates were in charge. A program in that state goes nowhere. Coach Baioni elaborates on this point:

“…the player must also approach me in the proper fashion when voicing displeasure. I feel myself and my staff have earned the respect to question us in the proper manner, if so, it will be handled properly. Make a scene and you will not like the result”.

Fair enough, right?

Okay, so what’s missing from the scenario I laid out earlier? At no point did you, as the coach, take the time to try to figure out why you were having problems with this athlete. At no point did you pull him aside and discuss your level of expectation and how it was not being met. At no point did you allow your player to tell you why he wasn’t meeting your expectations. Instead, you chose to go hard-nosed-Bear- Bryant-Vince-Lombardi on him, and what was the end result? You lost a player. You lost respect from his teammates and fellow staff. You lost an opportunity to truly coach and mentor a young person that obviously needs direction. And, lets’ be honest…yelling and making kids run has never changed a person. It may temporarily deter undesirable behavior. But, how many times have you ever heard someone say, “You know, I was going down a bad path in life, and then coach made us run 400 suicides and I became an honor roll student and class president”? Never. And, look, I’m not saying a heart to heart chat with a “problem player” is going to solve the world’s problems, either. What I am saying is that the effort it takes to do it is minimal, and it may be what both of you need. If you make that effort and it doesn’t work, maybe parting ways is what’s best for you, the player in question and the program as a whole. We can’t possibly reach them all…but we can try.

Swallow your pride. Remember your role and its purpose. Be better.

Have an awesome Wednesday,




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