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Discussion: COACHES CORNER-DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE NOT A COACH

Posted Discussion
May 10, 2008
DD
Men's 60
71 posts
COACHES CORNER-DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE NOT A COACH
It's time to put a little relevance back into this website---after all, it is the Senior SOFTBALL website. With apologies to you Movie buffs...and you nostalgia rowdies with your reminiscenses of black and white TV shows (I confess I did contribute one of my old favorites to this thread)...but this and any future entries will be for coaches and managers to share thoughts and strategies about dealing with the petulant, prickly, personalities that perennially pepper our player pool...and other problems that we are often saddled with.

Here we go...feel free to contribute your own questions at any time...but please give the author some feedback about the one currently on the board.

THE SCENE: It's 7:30 Sunday morning of a 2 day out-of-town tournament and our game is at 9. We have only 11 players in uniform for 3 games that day. At 8 o'clock a text message from Prima Ballerina rings thru to your cell phone and it says: "Had a fight with my girlfriend and drove home last night. Won't be there today."

THE PROBLEM: We now have only 10 players for 3 games and can't find anyone else because we're out of town and we don't know anyone. Prima Ballerina is our leadoff man and ALWAYS insists on playing every inning, but we will not have him this day.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO PRIMA BALLERINA AFTER THE TOURNAMENT WAS OVER?

Again, responses from coaches/managers only please. And, please identify either yourself and the team you coach/manage...or preferably both...(depending on how patient and wise you are, I may want to play for you next year when I give this job up:-)

I am Dennis Dalton of 50's CJ&S Express/Phoenix.
May 10, 2008
db14
90 posts
Hi Dennis......sorry but i currently do not meet all the necessary requirements but have done my fair share of coaching......which is why i no longer put myself through the agony. I thought i might comment. My primary reason though was to say hello. I was the First baseman (Dennis) on the Lake Havasu Hawks in Laughlin this year. Had a great time with you and and the guys as teammates and hope to see you all again! As for your prima donna, that's a tough one. I had thought by the 50's and 60's that much of the testosterone levels would have diminished a bit.....WRONG. What i have seen are many frustrated jocks with your basic high school level of play continuing to play out the string of frustration of having gone no farther. What i also see are two types of coaches. Those who run the team and those who let some players run the team. My personal comment is that your scenario as stated has put the burden on eleven or twelve other teammates all of which have paid there fair share of expenses especially if flights, rooms, rental cars, etc are involved.. By letting those actions continue you also REALLY risk the chance of loosing some of your others players thus really putting yourself in a bind. Then there is the coach that can close his eyes based on the ability of the prima donna and the thought that when he plays he is one of the better players and giving the team a better chance of winning. The other players however see right through this. My suggestion is that you have an off site team meeting with no distractions. Tell everyone that unless there is an emergency (which happens) you expect a commitment to a published tournament schedule or at least a week or two notice that he is unable to make it. Sorry to be so long winded. It's a shame that softball sometimes resembles the real world of work!
May 10, 2008
Enviro-Vac
Men's 60
382 posts
Girls over softball? That's a travesty! Cut him ~:)
May 10, 2008
4x4
Men's 65
589 posts
Dennis;

From another Havasu Hawk.

I guess it could have been worse.

He could have had a tiff with his boyfriend who was also your 2nd baseman and you completely lost two productive hitters and your double play combination in their spat!

Seriously, anyone that "insists" on playing every inning, leading off, while anchoring a position as hard to replace as a shortstop has a responsibility to his team (as does everyone else that commits to a team).
While reading your post it would seem that this individual has some history suggesting that there have been behavioral concerns before that certainly must have affected the team in some way.
Our managers' are often taken for granted while taking on multiple tasks and worries during the course of the season in a thankless environment. Having a divisive team mate is the last thing most teams (work/family/recreational) need.
As the manager you will have to decide based on your teams situation whether you want to come to an understanding with this person and continue the season under new guidelines - or whether it is better to preserve the chemistry of the team without this individual. If there is a pattern here then you're better off wishing him well and letting him go away than erode the teams collective efforts.
At this point the team is looking to you for leadership and the reactions of the team immediately after this guy failed them should be all the input you need.
In todays world of multi-state based players team meetings are a rarity and email barrages would be an incorrect format to pursue.
It could be a one time "emergency" only or this guy could be a walking drama queen laden 911.
Whichever path hurts the team least and betters the team - take it, but don't draw it out. Make the decision quickly, quietly, and decisivly.
It's already out in public forum now and I'm guessing all parties have read this thread.
If this person has not contacted you to assuage this situation already I think you have your answer.

Good luck.
May 11, 2008
the wood
1071 posts
DD:
I do not know your team well enough to know which player it is that you're writing about. When he left the an already short-handed team due to an argument with his girlfriend, I would have been pissed whether I was the mgr or just another teammate. A commitment is expected until it conflicts with family or work. So possibly he could use the 'family' out.
But you had also stated that he feels that he;s better than everyone (must lead off, must play every inning). He sounds like 'high maintenance' to me. I have yet to meet the player like this that ACTUALLY is a positive for the team, all things considered,
I have learned over the years that the practice of 'addition by subtraction' is a necessity at times. If we had ANY reason to know that a player had this type of attitude we definitely would not recruit him in the first place. The chance that it will work out is too slim and I don't wish to intentionally create havoc for myself... or for my teammates.
In my view, you have two choices... cut him and move forward without him... or... make one last ditch effort to reason with him, starting with the part about him being better than everyone else. Since I'm not part of your team and don't know the parties involved, this is as much as I can offer. But my gut feeling is that prima donnas will continue to have 'fights with their girlfriends' and that they aren't likely to embrace the team concept... EVER... it just isn't within their personal make up to look at the big picture because it has to be about THEM... I MUST lead off, not because I've really earned it but because my fragile psyche needs it.
Before you decide which direction to take, ask the other 9 guys that he left behind... throw out the best and worst responses and then be decisive. I have learned the hard way, just like most everyone else. At times, I feel the need to consult the opinions of our key people and they always seem to add great clarity to an otherwise opaque situation.
I will also say that airing out team laundry on this board is a risky proposition at best. Again, consult your key team members as they know the specifics and they will keep the 'dirt' on the inside.
Bob Woodroof, GSF
May 11, 2008
THE HI-JACKER
118 posts
DD. Read my second post again. I hope that others do not read your April 1st, 2008 post.

I hope that ones players are enjoying being on the team that your are managering. The Hi-Jacker
May 11, 2008
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
I mange 2 teams (1 55+ and 1 65+) and IMO I would find a replacement real quick. Over the last 2 yrs I have dumped a couple of players like that.

To me there is nothing worse than traveling 100+ miles and your star not show up or send you an email at 6AM (We play at 10AM) saying I won't be at the game.

One player I got rid of would email me at night many times and say I can't make tomorrows game because I have a doctors appt.
May 11, 2008
Freddie
Men's 55
108 posts
Hi Dennis,this is Freddie Moreno w/Agave Realty.
I've been coaching for 4 years now. With your situation, this should be something that the team should have input since it did effect them. It has already happened once & who's to say it won't happen again. Did this happen in the Southwest Championship? Good luck & hopefully it will workout for the best.
Freddie
May 11, 2008
Davy
12 posts
My basic principle is that the team comes first but the question is how best to manage. I bat leadoff for a sponsored 70's major team that has been in existance for 15 years. Here's what we do:
1. We have a non playing manager who makes game decisions.
2. We have a board of six players plus the manager who meet regularly and discuss and establish policy.i.e.
roster players, recomended tournaments to attend,
playing time for local shirt tournaments vrs championship tournaments, number to bat in local vrs championship, and personnel problems such as you described.
3. The team comes first, not any individual and is well represented by the team board.
4 We try hard to win but not at the expense of comarade or team chemistry which translates to FUN and SUCCESS.

Our solution would be for the team board to consider the problem and its history, make a decision and move on.
Hope this helps.
Dave State Roofing Systems 70's
May 11, 2008
breeze53
Men's 55
40 posts
HI-JACKER, IT IS GREAT TO HAVE TO BACK STONEMAN. WE ALL HAVE MISSED YOU. THIS HANDLE { THE HIGH-JACKER} FITS YOU BETTER. BOB
May 11, 2008
Wes
Men's 65
306 posts
The Real ???? is ---is this the first time or is this the
3rd or 4th time
Wes
May 11, 2008
Jawood
Men's 50
784 posts
Get him a nice dress to wear because he certainly doesn't wear pants.
May 12, 2008
the wood
1071 posts
DD:
In reviewing this thread, there are several things that continue to nag me... it doesn't seem to add up. This makes me feel that I have reacted too quickly. I have strong feelings about prima donnas in general but in re-reading your post, it only says that he had a fight with his girlfriend and he 'always' insists on playing all of the time.
The only set of facts that we (the readers) have are the ones that you have provided. There has to be another side of the story.
Given the adverse posts that you and your team have experienced over the past year or so, why would you bring this issue into the forefront? Wouldn't you be better served to work this out behind the scenes?
Several of us have run with the set of facts as you stated them... correctly or incorrectly, on our part... but earnestly.
Wes asked a question that is extremely relevant... how many times has this type of thing happened with this particular player? You wanted to create a discussion, Wes deserves a relevant answer.
You feel that he is a 'prima ballerina' but, as far as we know, this is just your opinion. Does he have a history of this type of thing? How do his teammates feel about him?
Is he your best lead off man? I know that we've played your team twice over the past year and you had 2 different guys leading off in the 2 games.
What is your motive in initiating this thread? Surely you don't want to operate your team via the media (so to speak).
As you said, it's time to put some relevance back into this web site. I would appreciate a response to these questions but I do not want to know his name.
BW
May 12, 2008
AZBaller
44 posts
"What go around comes around"!!!!! DD, you deserve what you get by the way you treat people. The one that P$ss's me off the most is, you not letting players have there release from your team till your good and ready. You pick up people early in the year and for one reason or the other it doesn't work out or the person just doesn't like your team and wants a release and you hold them till the end of the year, thats a total bunch of crap. I could go on a on but DD you need to shut up and suck it up and move on!!!!!!!!! I don't feel a bit sorry for you at all!!!!!!!!!
May 12, 2008
DD
Men's 60
71 posts
Let's try to keep principles before personalities, men, in the COACHES CORNER. No real names except your own, please.

To AZBALLER: While you are correct in your statement I have refused to release some players, you fail to note I have released far more than I have kept. There are 2 players I have not released in 3+ years of coaching, and many, many more whom I have. You have been misinformed.

To WOOD and WES: The motive behind the thread is exactly as stated--to share thoughts and strategies about dealing with difficult personalities and other problems. The situation described happened exactly as stated in January of 2007, the text message rang into only my cell phone, so you will have to take my word for it. If it helps you to keep your objectivity, why not treat the whole incident as anecdotal...what if this thing happened...how would you respond to the player? And, WES, it was the first time but it happened twice more before we parted ways with this player after the Worlds last year.

From the many insightful responses, I confirmed my own feelings that by doing essentially nothing, I handled this person poorly and should have been more direct at the time. Watching the team spiral downward and become a .500 team in the second half of last year caused me to second guess myself repeatedly, Hindsight is always 20/20, though, and the forward-thinking thing to do is to learn the lesson and move on.

For those of you who continue to manage, keep in mind that different skills might be required for different stages in the life of your team. By that I mean organizational and recruiting skills might be great as a team is starting, but expertise in psychology and motivation could help you more as your team tries to move up the ladder.

A Council of Advisers and team meetings are also excellent ideas for dealing with problems...I employ both concepts on our team and have been helped immeasurably by our core of players.

You need a lot of different tools in your kit to do this successfully for any length of time. I commend those who do it well. I could not in my 4th year and will not return to coaching in 2009.


Finally, to the HAVASU HAWKS: Thanks for weighing in and DB14---great to hear from you. Hope your year is going well and I hope we see you in Reno.
May 12, 2008
Airbosn
Men's 65
319 posts
Some of my general guidelines when I managed a major plus team.

1. Personal sacrifices I made to allowed players with less ability to play in my spot during pool play. Use a lineup of 10 or 11 players during championship round. Gave bench guys a few things to do, i.e., base coaches, substitute runners, etc.

2. I did not play shortstop and bat clean-up, LOL

3. I gave people opportunities to play in different places. I was surprised a few times to discover who is capable of what and who is not. Most players will tell you they can play anywhere.

4. I kept statistics. Knowing how people are hitting and scoring and driving in runs helps determine line-up, playing time and of course all tournament selections. Make sure you have an assistant who can keep a good accurate book and keep it available for the year. Some players will need that information for the Hall of Fame committee.

5. Tell your players to show up one hour before each game. This gives them time to stretch, warm-up and mentally focus on the game.
May 12, 2008
Joncon
285 posts
First of all...stuff happens.

Second...the tone of your post implies that you don't really like this guys behavior anyway so just cut him.

He will find another team and you will find another princess :)

Third....there is no good reason to delay the release of a player. Lead by example and don't be a prima donna coach.
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