Discipline Mistake #5: Never call a practice

A Tale of Two Coaches

I played Little League Baseball four years, ages 9-12. Coach Thomas was a perfectionist. I remember him teaching us how to “hookslide” over and over in practice. Rarely, someone would get it right and he would make them freeze while he taught the rest of us. Once that year, I rounded second base heading into third and the throw was coming in toward the home plate side of the third base bag. I focused on sliding out and away from the bag just letting my toe catch the corner. The third baseman tagged the ground in front of the base, but I was beyond the tag. Safe! Coach Thomas was clapping his hands; it had worked just like he taught us. I loved the hookslide, I loved Coach Thomas, I loved baseball.

After Little League, I played Babe Ruth baseball, ages 13-15. The rules were different, the bases longer, the players better. Coach Harris was too busy to practice with us; so most of the time practice was cancelled. One season we had only two practices the whole season. When we started the games, he would call time out and tell us what to do. He might yell at us across the field. He changed our positions several times, trying to find the winning combination. He never found it. He was frustrated, we were frustrated—every game. When I finished my final year of Babe Ruth, I walked away from baseball. I had lost my love for the coach and for the sport.

Some parents are Coach Thomas parents. Coach Thomas parents take some time to think about the game of life and prepare their kids for what’s ahead.  “When you meet a bully, look him in the eye.  When you are tempted to cheat, pray for strength. When you are making decisions, seek counsel. When you are discouraged, trust God and do something for someone else.” These kids are going to face the crises and understand what to do.

Coach Harris parents are always expecting their kids just to know what to do, but the rules are changing, the stakes are higher, and the kids don’t know their positions yet. When bullies show up, they look away for help. When they are tempted to cheat, they are unclear and give in. When making decisions they procrastinate. When they are discouraged, they give up. When Coach Harris parents try to teach in the crisis, it sounds more like criticism than help. They are frustrated and their kids are, too.

Having used each of these methods at different times, we decided that the Coach Thomas method is better. We hope that you will, too. Why don’t you share a comment about how you are preparing your kids for the game of life?