If you’re always on time, you’ll be one of the coach’s best friends. He’ll appreciate you.
The Spiders families are really good about this. But I’ve learned it’s something that isn’t automatically understood. The coach needs to establish very clear expectations about what arriving “on time” means.
Why does arriving on time matter? And why should you ultimately arrive early?
Defining “On Time”
We start pre-game warmups an hour prior to game time. So, being on time means that we need each player on the field ready to start warmups at that time.
That doesn’t mean pulling into the parking lot an hour before the game.
It doesn’t mean the player arriving at the field an hour before the game.
Sometimes it’s a long walk from the parking lot. Players often arrive with slides on. They’ll need to put their cleats on and put their bag away. They’ll need to do these things before starting warmups.
Starting Warmups Together as a Team
I value starting our warmups together, on time, as a team. We’ll have some pre-game communications. How are we approaching this game differently? What do the players need to know? Who is playing where? Who is pitching and who is catching?
After those communications, the players start their warmups.
If you missed the pre-game communications, you may be going into the game without valuable information.
If you start pre-game warmups late, you’ll need to cut something short. Fewer stretches could mean a greater likelihood for injury. Fewer reps could lead to a lack of readiness.
If you’re late, you’ll be rushed. And it’s not a good way to start the day.
Ultimately, it sets a really bad tone. I want to start with everyone. But if you aren’t here yet, we need to get going.
Pitchers and Catchers
Pitchers and catchers have a different routine than the rest of the team. They need to get through warmups so that the catcher can gear up and the pitcher can get in some warmup pitches.
If the pitcher or catcher is late, it throws off this preparation.
Prepare for the Unexpected
If you leave in order to arrive on time, something is bound to go wrong. Expect it. Stuff happens.
Your son may get ready late. Maybe he can’t find his jersey. Maybe he leaves his bat in the garage, and you have to turn back around and go get it.
You’ll run into traffic at the worst possible time. Or the GPS will lead you to the wrong location.
All of these things will happen at some point. I guarantee it.
If you prepare for the unexpected, you build in some buffer time. If you prepare to arrive 15 minutes (or even more) early, any delay is no big deal.
One time this past season, I hit some insanely bad traffic. Just awful. It was the only time I arrived late. But, guess what? Every player beat me there. As a result, I couldn’t blame the traffic. I needed to plan better.
Really just adding this for emphasis. I think it’s clear now that it’s best to arrive early. You’ll be less stressed, less rushed, and more prepared in the event something inevitably delays you.
Your son will also be in a much better frame of mind if he arrives early as opposed to being stressed out about arriving after warmups began.
Enforcing On-Time Arrival
Whether or not the coach does anything to enforce on-time arrival is up to each individual coach. It also may depend upon how bad things get.
If your planned starting pitcher or catcher arrive late, you may consider starting someone else. This isn’t even necessarily as a punishment, but understanding that the routine is different for those positions.
You may also set your first inning bench players based on who arrived late. If you don’t start warmups with the team on time, you will be the first to sit the bench.
And you may even put the late arrivers at the bottom of the lineup. This may even be done out of necessity if a player is arriving especially late.
It’s all up to the coach. Personally, it’s a tough topic because I spend a great deal of time planning out lineups and defensive positions for every inning of every game. I really don’t want to throw that out the window.
So for me, the question is first about whether it’s become a problem. If it does, then we need to start enforcing on-time arrival. But you can’t pick and choose when to do this. You need to be consistent.
Something I’ve done in the past is once late arrival begins to become an issue, I start moving the arrival time earlier. So, instead of a 60-minute pre-game arrival, I use 70 minutes.
There Are Exceptions
This can be a dicey subject. Do we treat all late arrivals equally? What about league games during the week when school is in session? Do we punish those who live a far distance away who can’t arrive on time?
Personally, I provide far more latitude for these weekday games during the school year. I know that it’s difficult to get everyone to the field on time, no matter what you do.
You may choose to give every player a single pass for being late, within reason.
What does your team do to enforce on-time arrival?
Let me know in the comments below!