We live in a completely different world of youth sports than decades ago. I am probably older than most parents who will be reading this so if you parents talk...
Where does the summer go? Baseball parents are still hoping to get some family vacation time in before school starts. August is a great month to reflect, relax, and re-energize body and mind. Baseball is full of experiences – learning experiences – and the immediate post season is a time to appreciate what we did.
I own the Mystic Schooners, a summer league team and part of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The Schooners summer is my favorite time of the baseball year and I tell our college guys from all over the country that they are, for maybe the only time of the year, NOT student athletes but baseball players. There are no study halls, dorm parties, tutors, 6am workouts, or long weekend road trips across the country. It is summer and it is all baseball all the time. How much better can it be?
Some players took longer than others to get the “pressure” of college competition out of their minds. Many come into the summer already thinking about how they can make their mark in college next fall. They come with strength and conditioning plans, eating regimens, drills to improve themselves – all good things to be sure. But it is important for them to embrace the fact that they are playing baseball nearly every day for close to ten weeks straight. What better way to improve than to go to the ball park each day with something to work on that isn’t college related but strictly on the individual to hold himself accountable for self improvement.
To parents of young players, please take this example and use a similar approach to summer ball in 2018 and beyond. Starting today invite some conversation about what the summer just completed brought to your child. This is not a negative conversation but a meaningful, teaching conversation that will help your son or daughter and you focused on the process. Fall ball will be here soon enough. If fall ball is in the picture let it be a time of development for next year, no more, no less. For those who are involved in a different fall sport, enjoy the mental break but stay competitive!
The Schooners lost in the playoffs this past season, having a 3-0 lead in the 9th inning only to end up losing in 10. This is not a storybook way to end a summer (unless you are a lover of horror stories) but at the end my message was something like, “you guys are now part of the club – the club of players who snatched defeat out of the hands of sure victory – it will happen again if you play long enough. Let each of you use this experience to remember that nothing is easy nor given to you. Preparation in sport is for a complete game effort. Next time you feel yourselves in this situation remember tonight and see if you can urge yourselves and teammates to finish strong.”
For all the families and players out there, learn from your summer experience and embrace the ups and downs for what the are – part of your personal learning process.
Have a great school year!