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Happy Tuesday, and thanks again for reading and listening to Elbow Up Youth Baseball! Last week more than 15,000 people read or listened thanks to all of you sharing the article and podcast. If you missed me talking about the things I would do differently now that my son is 18, you can read or listen here.
This week I talk about how important the little things are. Read below for a short version, or listen to the podcast for more details!
Our 9U team traveled about an hour south to north Atlanta this weekend and played a couple of good teams we haven’t seen before. We ended up going 0-0-2 in pool play, tying both teams 7-7.
We blew a 6-run lead in the first game starting the last inning up 7-1 before ultimately giving up 6 runs and finishing with the tie.
The second game went back and forth, with us scoring a run in the last inning to end in the tie.
Looking back on the game there were several things we did that might have cost us a run here or there. A dropped fly ball that should have been caught. Several strikeouts in key situations. An throwing error. Several walks and passed balls.
But it wasn’t just those things. Looking back at all 12 innings we played, there were 15-20 small things that happened that contributed to the final result of each game.
As one of our coaches said after the game, “We probably made 15 mistakes today. If we take just a couple of those away, we probably win those games.”
Now what you didn’t hear is the context of the conversation. It wasn’t to point out the mistakes and blame them for the loss. It was to continue to stress the importance of the little things at practice like we do every week.
For young guys, that’s hard to do! Everyone wants to hit and throw. Everyone wants to pitch. But paying attention and focusing on the little things is key to success.
Remember, the whole equals the sum of all the parts. The end result of a game or a performance isn’t how well you hit or pitched. It’s the sum of every little thing that happened during that game.
The next time a player points out an error by his teammate late in the game, or the next time you hear another parent in the stands talking about a mistake one of the kids made, remind them that one play didn’t cost the team the game.
Every little thing along the way added up to the outcome. Things like base running mistakes, missed signs that nobody but the coach saw, missed cutoff man from the outfield that gave up an extra base, etc. Those things add up and can be just as costly as a good old fashioned error or strikeout.
If you’ve never heard it, I encourage you to watch retired Navy Admiral William McRaven’s 2014 commencement speech to the University of Texas. The speech was made into a book called “Make Your Bed - Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World” and I highly recommend you getting it!
In it he says, “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.” That’s a lesson we can teach our kids on the ball field that will translate into their school, work, and life!
Have a great week, please forward to a friend, and as always, I’d love to hear your feedback. Hit reply or leave a comment here
Kevin Burke is a dad and coach, having coached baseball at all ages tee ball through varsity high school over the last 18 years . He currently coaches his younger son’s 9U “travel” team, Tennessee Prime, based out of Chattanooga, TN.