My experience in working and counseling players and families in the way of youth sports has made one fact clear - I do not claim nor do I wish to...
A large part of pitching lessons and private instruction is helping PARENTS understand that there is no cookie cutter style of baseball player. We love our kids sometimes to the point of thinking for them every step of the way, we can’t help it. At times I half wonder if it is better to have parents list a “velocity goal” for their pitcher as they begin working out. Or maybe have a “home run distance” goal written down before we get started because those questions do come up as things begin to ramp up in the teaching process. Parents try hard (some not so much) to allow for the learning process to work but there will often come the point where, “the other guys on the team still seem to be doing better” comments rise up.
The theme of one of my previous posts was, “no deadlines on greatness.” It really is worth repeating this mantra to yourself whether you are a player, coach, friend, or parent.
This morning a parent described how his high school senior had completed a “breakout summer.” He not only was dominant on the mound with increased command and velocity but his hitting approach changed for the better. Weak ground outs and strikeouts were now doubles and triples to all fields and many with two strikes. Dad said he seemed more mature out there, like he was filled with all the confidence in the world. For the past three years the player was doing just fine, participating and contributing to his school and travel teams while improving his game. Some of his classmates were all-stars for each of those years and as can be expected overshadowed this young ball player – not easy for a parent to witness but I credit this father with enjoying the journey and watching the improvement each season.
Their family has been rewarded – but in a different way than you might imagine.
An interesting twist occurred in our last conversation. Dad, after speaking so proudly about his son’s past season began talking about the college application process. Ironically, playing baseball has become secondary to this young man as his desire is now to go to a big time college (size and historically speaking) and “maybe” play club baseball or “maybe” attempt to walk on the varsity team. He has expressed an interest to learn the “business of baseball”, something that has always intrigued him, for the next four years.
It is interesting to note how well this young man played this year when he had a plan for his baseball future. So what if the plan wasn’t what it may have been two or three seasons ago. That is what growing up and maturity is all about, isn’t it? All of the descriptions coming from dad were clear evidence of a player who was content with himself and a father who was as proud of a son as he could be.
Is this giving up on a dream – not at all! As a matter of fact the dream is bigger and clearer than ever to this kid. He seeks to continue working hard on his skills at a level where he will enjoy it. At the same time he will enhance his knowledge and grow his baseball network with the end goal to continue to be involved in some greater calling than simply a player.
The opportunities for young people in baseball are abundant. I can think of no better training ground for social interaction, handling adversity, and enjoying the ups and downs that parallel the business world than in baseball. You can be a player or front office person at the professional or amateur levels, you can be learn from baseball. This high school player is using his playing talent to get him to a management or coaching position down the road. His appreciation for playing will enable him to help others within the game once he is ready to do so. How soon
As a final note, my Mystic Schooners team – for those not familiar it is a high quality summer collegiate squad – had a young woman out of Tulane working with us as an intern. Elizabeth was a great staff member that summer of 2013. Her love -and knowledge – of baseball was evident to all of our players and fans that summer. She is currently working in the marketing department for the Oakland Athletics – in her fourth season – and loving it.
There are many roads to success in baseball. I hope you are able to enjoy finding your path.