Friday, January 16, 2015

The REAL problem with youth sports! (At least one of them)

Happy Friday to All!!

The look and feel of youth sports has changed drastically over the last several decades.  There really is no debating that fact.  The science of the game (any game but in this instance we are talking baseball!) has shown us how to teach young players better ways to throw a ball, to hit a ball, and to pitch a ball.  Professional instruction is readily available to realistically anyone that desires it.  There is no doubt that the players of today are better than the players of yesterday.  However one fact remains constant when comparing youth baseball of today to that of 30 years ago......

THEY ARE STILL CHILDREN.  

Children are amazing....Their ability to learn something new is awesome.  I am amazed by how fast my group of 7 and 8 year olds can pick up a new skill.  What children have in ability to learn they lack in the ability to truly handle stress and emotions.  

Baseball is a game a failure.  At all levels of this game you are going to fail more often than you succeed.  

Your child takes lessons.  He practices.  He is a good ball player.  You are a good parent.  You cheer for your boy, for his teammates.  The game is close and late in the game he commits and error to lose the game.  

If your son is like most athletes, he is going to be disappointed about the outcome.  He may even cry.  
If your son is on a good team, his coach will talk to him about the error and handle it in a positive way to encourage him to keep trying, to keep working, and keep his head up.

As a parent you have three responsibilities at this point:

1.  Give your kid a hug, a high five, or however you show love and encouragement to him.
2.  Tell him that NO MATTER WHAT, YOU LOVE TO WATCH HIM PLAY BALL.
3.  Drive him home and DON'T TALK BASEBALL.

Long story short:  LET YOUR CHILD GO BACK TO BEING A CHILD.  

The NCAA completed a 30 year longitudinal study on athletes that participated in collegiate athletics looking for cross-sport comparisons of successful athletes.  When asked about what they disliked the most about their experience as a youth athlete the resounding answer was:

THE RIDE HOME

It is my job as a coach to talk to your son about that error, that strikeout, or that performance on the mound.  

His performance is not a reflection of you.  Your job is to love your child unconditionally and help him transition from a disappointed athlete to a kid.  When and if he is ready to talk about it, he will come to you....But let it be on his terms.

This was exceedingly difficult for me to learn, and sometimes I fail to transition from a coach to a Dad.  But I promise you wont regret it......

Signing off....

Coach Rich

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why A Blog???

Howdy All,

I'm sure many people will say that blogging has already "jumped the shark" being surpassed by other forms of social media and outreach technology.  But why would I want to take precious time out of my day to put the "pen to paper"???

The basic trigger is this:  My hope is that blogging about coaching youth baseball will be therapeutic for me, and along the way people might get some enjoyment out of reading it (maybe some laughs too).  Maybe a discussion will happen surrounding the issues.....a discussion in your own mind, between friends, whoever...Mostly it's therapeutic for me!

I have been coaching baseball now for five years.....For the last two years I have coached my younger sons' (Kyle) team.  We started in the fall of 2013 with their 7U season and now we are getting ready to enter the Spring of 2015 playing 8U and 9U baseball.  I also am lucky enough to be able to help out with my older sons (Jackson) 11U team.  I say lucky only because I get to coach with who I consider to be a friend and personal coaching mentor, Brian Seigel.  He is one of the few men who has made a impact on my son Jackson, which is worth its weight in gold to me.  A man of character and someone I can call on anytime for advice, venting, or just to talk.  More about Brian later though.
I am the luckiest coach in St. Louis.  I have 10 great boys who LOVE baseball;  I have 20-something parents, grandparents, and siblings who LOVE to watch their relatives play baseball.

Over the last few years I have felt beaten up and frustrated by coaches and parents who don't understand why we are out on the field...I have became sickened seeing boys overused, parents and coaches psychologically beating up on their children and players, and overall a HUGE disrespect for this game.  I will be the first to tell you though that I am not perfect by any means and make mistake after mistake on and off the field.  Hopefully though I am man enough to admit when I am wrong, accept constructive criticism with pride, and learn from my mistakes.

I am a club select coach, and my boys are blessed enough to be able to play at a higher level, however I love baseball at all levels.  Baseball (in my mind) is the greatest game ever, because even the best players fail more often than not and the worst players will have their moments of glory, and frankly; every life lesson can be learned on a baseball field.

I think that's about all now. I hope this intrigues you enough to read the next posting.

Until next time....

Coach Rich
"A little insanity from the dugout"