I had the awesome opportunity to attend Mike Matheny's book release of "The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Managers Old School Views on Success in Sports and Life". The book was an extension of the "Matheny Manifesto", a document that Coach Matheny wrote to the parents of a team that desired him to coach their boys. The document really hit some nerves and almost immediately went viral. I suggest that if you have not read the original letter you do so at: www.mikematheny.com.
Very simply the point it this...The only job that a baseball coach has is:
1. Teach boys how to play baseball the right way.
2. Make a positive impact on them as young men.
3. Do it with class.
This is not a complicated blueprint, but its one that most coaches will not agree with, as evidenced by every time I step foot in a youth baseball park I see coaches yelling at umpires, I hear parents yelling at kids, and I see 45 year old men intimidating children. Its embarrassing to witness.
The steps outlined above are inseparable; teaching boys how to play baseball the right way cant be accomplished without positively impacting a young man, and you sure as heck cant do #1 and #2 without class. The very second that the game becomes about the coaches feeling better about themselves, collecting trophies for their resume, and parents thinking somehow that the stat line is a reflection of them, then that's the very second I want nothing to do with it...and neither should you.
A coach's (and in proxy the parent) job is simple; prepare this young man to go out on the field and play the game the very best that he can. Prepare him to control the variables that can be controlled: attitude, hustle, and attention. When you really put everything you have into preparing this young man to play baseball, then he has already won. By giving the child the tools for success you have armed this young person with powerful ammunition and I believe the wins, hits, stolen bases, no-hitters, and championships will come.
Work these boys to the breaking point at practice, let them fail, and put them up against competition that is much better. These are great life lessons....but also give them the gift of confidence, lay a foundation that no matter the outcome or the box score you are proud of them for playing right, playing classy, and controlling what they can control. Let THEM play; YOU be seen and not heard. Stop thumping your chest and strutting the field like a rooster! Coach...don't control.
Some who will read this will want to point out that I haven't followed this blueprint close enough in the past. I will be the first to agree with them. But every practice and game I will ask myself if I completed #1, #2, and #3. And to me that's a win everytime!
A little less chaos from the dugout!