Your coach may not have ever communicated this with you before, but I guarantee theyfeels the same way. There’s no benefit in having parents come over to the dugout during the game.
Superman, It’s a Trap!
You’re Superman. Your child is a cat in the tree. But that tree is the dugout, and it’s built out of Kryptonite.
Have I taken this analogy too far yet?
The cat doesn’t need saving. They are a cat. They like being in the tree. they might climb down. they might not. Either way, that tree is made out of Kryptonite, so if you save that cat who doesn’t need saving, you put yourself at risk — and won’t be able to help citizens of the world who are actually in trouble!
Let that cat be a cat. It’s a trap.
It Can Wait
Barring some very rare emergency, whatever it is that you think you need to tell them at this moment can wait. You don’t need to come to the dugout.
You may think that they need to be reminded about their mechanics or approach or responsibility.
It can wait.
You may think that they need a pep talk because you can see they are struggling.
It can wait.
You mean well. But they don't need you right now.
It’s a Distraction
They may be focused on their responsibilities right now. Then you come over and give them something else to think about.
They may have had a bad at bat, but they weren't thinking about it. Then you came over to remind them that it could have been better.
Time interacting with you is time that could have been spent interacting with teammates and coaches. It’s an unnecessary distraction.
Give them What They Need
Many of the times that a parent comes to the dugout, it’s for a rather innocent reason. Their child needs a water, snack, or some piece of equipment.
That’s understandable. But make sure your child has everything they need when you drop them off.
Their Going to Be Fine
This is the most difficult part for parents. It’s like dropping them off for the first day of school and not seeing them again until they come home. You trust that the teachers will take care of them. That they’ll do what they’re supposed to do.
They need some independence right now. They need to fail, succeed, and try on their own. They need to sort through the mental roller coaster of a game without you.
The more they learn to do these things without you, the better off they will be. Otherwise, they will rely on you. The more you inject yourself into their experience, the more they will need your advice.
Let go. They are going to be fine.
Try to Stay Out of Immediate View
I know. You just like to watch the game right behind the dugout. Or right beside it when there’s a chain-link fence or no fence at all.
When you get that eye contact, you’ll want to say something. And if they see you there, they may say something first. At that point, you have to talk to them, right? Eh eh.
Do yourself a favor and move further away. Take a seat in the stands. Cheer them on nice and loud, but you don’t need to have conversations with them during the game.
Just remember: You’re Superman. That dugout is Kryptonite. The safety of the planet is at stake!
Are They Hurt?
Hey, there’s actually a chance you’ll be needed if they are hurt. Maybe we need ice. Maybe they have an illness or injury that you need to help with.
If they are seriously hurt, it’s completely understandable that you’ll be there and be needed.
There are obvious exceptions to this rule.
Ask the Coach First
Maybe there’s a really good reason your child will want you want to come to the dugout. Maybe they forgot their water and it’s 98 degrees out.
No problem! Ask the coach, and he’ll give the water to your child for you.
Maybe you noticed that they are hurt or not feeling well and the coach doesn’t see it. Instead of going to the dugout to talk to your child, mention it to the coach.
When in doubt, simply ask your coach about whatever it is that you want to communicate. He’ll either help you out or tell you it’s a bad time.
Coaches Will Be Less Understanding Later
I don’t know how old your child is. But some coaches are very strict about this. They’ll likely be stricter as your child gets older.
My older child plays for a team that is extremely strict about this. They do not communicate with the parents. They only communicate with the players. If a parent comes to the dugout, the player is benched.
My child knows this. As a result, she doesn’t want me there. I went over to give them a drink or sandwich or something once, and they ran away.
The sooner you and your child learn this, the better.