I'm a Man, I'm Forty

Photo Credit: http://artisticgc.com

by: Andy Zsiga @zsiga_andy

There are so many wonderful nuances to baseball, and the mental fortitude it takes to successfully play baseball is one of my favorite parts. The last few years I have had the privilege of helping out with my oldest son’s little league team, and you can really see just how much perseverance and patience baseball requires in those little league games.

In many sports, when you make a mistake you quickly get another chance to do the same activity and you can redeem yourself or drive yourself further into the ground, but baseball tends to make you wait longer to redeem yourself. This time in between plays causes many people to embrace the negativity, and it is very hard to be prepared for your next opportunity to make a play.

As a parent (also as a coach), I have found that it is hard to not want to help my kid in adversity he might be facing, and this extends to little league. I have to check myself to make sure that I do not get too competitive and keep my son from having fun, and never is that more evident than the travel tournament. 

We recently played our first real travel tournament, and while there was a lot of growing pains, it was a really good experience. The thing is a tournament like this causes all sorts of competitive desires to flow, and it creates a lot of stress and pressure for the kids to succeed. Parents tend to hold their kids to a standard that is not possible, and many times we go negative with our kids.

I cannot tell you how many times I have come to the mound to talk to a pitcher that is struggling to find tears on their cheeks because of the stress they are feeling. Many of these tears have been unfortunately caused by their parents’ corrections. As a parent, I have to fight back the competitive desire to win and make sure to make the decision to model positivity for the kids. We are adults, we may or may not be forty, but the reason our kid's play is to have fun.

Let them have fun; don’t overdo the number of games your kids' play, and encourage them. 

Kids put so much pressure on themselves that rarely do they need to be told they are wrong, and usually a discussion about how to make a certain play away from the heat of the moment and the game is sufficient.  

For those who have not experienced coaching ball against travel teams, it is very hard to keep up with teams that pull from a wide area and play a good portion of the year. The coaches of the travel teams (honestly of any team wanting to win) tend to forget the need to make the game fun for their kids, and the kids are taught ways to cheat the system. It is a shame that people resort to destroying their kid's integrity to win silly baseball games at ten years old; remember we are adults, and we, not our kids, have a responsibility to model sportsmanship, encouragement, and love.

Today, I picked up a kid who had been wearing his uniform all day in preparation for our game, a game in which we knew we would lose by close to infinity, but he was so excited and ready. This same kid was going to quit just two weeks ago, but baseball and its beauty brought him back in. 

I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen students in my classroom who have been burnt out on baseball (or really any sport) because of negativity, or a lack of a second chance to fix poor decisions. Again, parents are adults, parents are (maybe) forty, and the kids have enough to stress about; let your kids make mistakes, let them have fun, let them be kids.

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