Elbow Up is a free weekly newsletter and podcast for youth baseball parents and coaches. I recently launched a premium subscription with a few extra benefits. Check it out!
How time flies! It seems like yesterday I was coaching him in 5 & 6 year old coach pitch! Now here we are on senior night a couple of weeks ago…and he’s an adult!
I’m currently coaching my 9U son’s team, and fortunately for him (and you) I have the advantage of looking back on my entire body of work as a parent and coach for my now 18 year old son. Here’s what I learned, and here’s what I would have done differently. The list is below, but details for each are included in the podcast!
If you’re new here, I do at least one newsletter and one podcast per week.
NOTE: I should clarify that our older son did not have a terrible experience, but now I know I could have set him up for better long term success while enjoying it a little more along the way. While he would tell you he enjoyed playing baseball and hanging out with his friends in those younger years, I know there were days (games and practices) where he and his teammates just did not enjoy being there.
I certainly don’t look at this as a regret, but as an opportunity to share what I learned with other parents and coaches. 10/10 high school, college and professional coaches would agree with these things, so if you want to ignore them, fine. But do so at your own child’s detriment.
My 25 year old self might look at my 36 year old self and say I’ve become soft! I think I’ve just grown wise to what’s really important and how things work. In no particular order, here’s what I would have done differently (more details on each in the podcast):
I would have put much more of an emphasis on development than winning.
I would have reacted much differently to errors and poor performance.
I would have paid closer attention to my own body language during games, especially when our team or my son was faced with adversity.
I would have spent more time at home working with my son 1-on-1.
I would have never missed an opportunity to teach a life lesson.
I would have only told my son after his games that I enjoyed watching him play, nothing related to an out, error, poor hitting or pitching performance, etc.
I would have planned practices better, focusing on a more well-rounded development of all players.
I would not have made cuts in 9 and 10 year old “select” baseball.
I would not have hosted tryouts for my 9 and 10 year old “select” team.
I would have moved players around much more, sacrificing short term team success with longer term team and individual development.
I could probably list 10 more, but you get the point. I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions, so leave a comment here and hit that ❤️ button!
If you know other parents or coaches that might enjoy this piece, please feel to email them or share using the button below. Feel free to send it to your entire team!
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.
Get in Touch