Your Actions Show What's Really Important
Parents and Coaches Continue to Swing and Miss with Youth Development
This edition is not meant to condemn your parenting or coaching. My intent is to get you to just stop and think about the long term development of your child and players - not just in baseball, but as teenagers, students, teammates, employees, men, and dads. What’s really important here?!?
When I first started this newsletter, I wrote a piece titled Gut Check: What’s Your Baseball Goal? Re-starting this newsletter in 2020, I felt like having a 2.0 version for that article was fitting. It really sets the stage for the rest of the year.
Keep in mind, I’m not holier than thou! This entire publication is a reflection of my own experiences, challenges, and growth as a player, coach, and parent.
Spoiler alert: I still have a long ways to go!
When I talk to youth parents and coaches they all say they have the child’s best interest in mind.
They all want to develop baseball players with good fundamentals.
They all want to focus on having fun versus winning.
They all want their child and family to have a balanced life that doesn’t just revolve around baseball.
Then we leave the conversation, and our actions reveal what’s really most important to us.
Heading into this upcoming baseball season, and before you do any more work in the off-season, I challenge you to consider the following five points:
Identify Your Goals
This seems obvious, but I mean really identify your goals.
Of course we all want to help our kids be better baseball players. But goals need to be actionable and measurable.
You should be able to track progress and adjust as needed throughout the year.
Find a few aspects of development your child (or players) need the most, and focus attention there.
For younger players (13U and below) your goals shouldn’t have anything to do with winning games, tournaments, or trophies. (I want to win every time I step on the field, but it cannot be the primary goal at this age - and really shouldn’t even be close to the top…if it is for you, please stay subscribed to this newsletter)
Goals should be team and player specific, and you should write them down now, and review them often.
Side note - you can have goals for yourself as a parent or coach too. I do.
Have Realistic Expectations
This is another one that most of us get wrong.
My 8 year old is going to make mistakes.
Your 9 year old is going to walk 4 guys in a row. (Don’t be the coach or dad over there telling him to “relax and just throw strikes”….DUH!!!)
Expectations for everyone reading this is going to be different. More advanced players will have different expectations.
I encourage you to focus on the process more than the result in younger players.
For example, instead of having an expectation of getting a hit, how about having an expectation of having a better at bat?
Or instead of having the expectation of getting a hit, how about having an expectation of just hitting the ball hard?
Baseball is a tough game, and while it sounds cliche, those that get a hit 3 out of every 10 at bats will end up in the Hall of Fame. It’s a VERY difficult game.
So knowing that, why would we set our kids up with unrealistic expectations? It just doesn’t make sense.
Be sure your expectations are tied to your goals.
Failure Needs to Happen - Let It!
Fast forward to your son and your players graduating high school. Very few of them will be playing baseball in college, and even fewer of them at the professional level.
Failure is going to happen. It’s going to happen on the field, and it’s going to happen off the field.
They need to learn how to deal with failure, and then they need to learn how to overcome adversity.
When your child or someone on your team this year goes 0-for-4, instead of dwelling on how they didn’t live up to your (unrealistic) expectations, focus on how they react and how they overcome that failure.
There was an article written about a year ago where legendary Notre Dame Women’s Basketball coach, Muffet McGraw, talked about parents needing to let their children fail.
She said, “Parents today don’t want to give their child a chance to fail. The first time there’s adversity, the kids don’t know what to do. They are not able to fight through things.”
Crying or making a scene when they get out is the most common scenario for the youngest players when they experience failure.
Getting down on themselves and discouraged is also at the top of the list.
If your child or a player on your team exhibits these responses, make sure their goals are tied to correcting it!
Be Positive and Encouraging
Try this and see the results.
Focus on the 6 swings that were good rather than the 4 that were not.
Focus on the 8 good throws, not the 2 bad ones.
Did your son make three great plays in the outfield, and then let one go between his legs? Chances are you got onto him for that one.
I can say that about you because that’s been me too.
I’ve really focused more lately on being positive, and the results are astounding. My son enjoys practicing more than ever, and it certainly has helped our relationship on the field!
Remember the Long Game
I sound like a broken record, but I promise nobody is going to remember those rings you get this summer.
Even your son won’t remember them.
They (and you) will remember the memories you’re making, the friendships being developed, the life lessons they’re learning.
Focus your efforts now and this season on your goals, setting realistic expectations, making it okay to fail, being positive and encouraging, and I promise your son and players will be better baseball players and adults in the long run!
If you enjoyed reading this, I am asking you to do two things!
Please hit the ❤️ button below, and then share this with a friend or to social media! Send it out to your team, parents, coaches, and anyone else you think might be interested.
Help us expand our reach and make youth baseball better one player, parent, and coach at a time!