It’s long been said that baseball is a “Kid’s Game” and there is no better proof than going and watching a little league or high school game. The problem lies in the fact that after taking in one of these games, you might be disgusted by the behavior of some of the adults involved. Back in November I wrote a piece on some of the issues at hand for young kids who play baseball and their parents involvement. After attending my son’s high school game last night, I feel we might need to set down some rules for both parents and coaches to remember when supporting our kids.
1.) You are there to support your child. There is no need to yell at them if they make a mistake or flub a play. If they did something wrong, the coach will address it.
2.) No matter the level, realize they are still learning to play the game. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your kid won’t be fantastic at any sport the entire time. Allow them to grow and learn the nuances of the game.
3.) Just because you weren’t able to fulfill your dream as an athlete doesn’t mean your goal in life is to turn your child into one. Help them learn, but allow them to direct their level of interest into any sport.
4.) This will kill some of you but…winning isn’t everything. There truly is something to learn from a loss and in all actuality, the whole purpose of youth sports is to teach. If winning occurs as well, that is great. If not, it is just a game…being played by kids.
5.) and finally…have fun. Let them have fun. The whole purpose is for them to learn while having fun. If your kid isn’t having fun, what is the point?
Alright, now some rules for the coaches. I didn’t figure I would have to write this section, but after what I saw last night it was very apparent some coaches are out of touch with their role in your child’s development.
1.) A coaches role is to be a teacher. That means not only what you teach them skill-wise on the field, but also their behavior on and off the diamond.
2.) Do not go and argue with the umpire. You are teaching kids and if they see you jawing with the ump, they are going to assume that is acceptable behavior for them. There should be no reason to berate an umpire, tell them they are “wrong” or attempt to explain to them how to do their job. These are kids you are coaching; there is zero reasons to ever get to that point in a game. Set a good example.
3.) If a kid makes a mistake, it is fine to talk to them and explain what they did wrong. In fact, that is a big part of your job. But…Do NOT chastise them in front of everyone. Pull them aside after the inning and discuss it with them (like an adult would do) in the dugout one on one. There is no reason to embarrass them in front of everyone else.
4.) As mentioned with the parents, remember the focus shouldn’t always be on winning. Yes, winning is the big goal, but the bigger goal would be to get these children to a point where they understand the fundamentals of the game and can assess situations out on the field without help. Maybe more important than winning is working with a kid to get them to a point where you can see actual, legitimate progress. Winning should be the added bonus.
5.) Enjoy your time teaching these kids. Many of the lessons you pass along to them will stay with them for a lifetime. You can make a big impact in their lives; make sure it is a positive one.
While these rules seem like common sense, you would be shocked at how many adults break them on a nightly basis. If you are reading this, you probably love sports and it has probably brought you more positive than negative. Just remember, these are kids still learning to play. They are not perfect, so you should not expect them to succeed in every situation. You and I aren’t perfect, so why would you expect that from your child? Let them go out, play and have fun. If you lead them upon the correct path, great moments and wins will follow.