Spring is in the air, youngsters are dusting off mitts and lacing up their cleats. From small towns to big cities, children and parents are preparing for America’s favorite past time - Baseball.
I thought I’d share a little knowledge to help with the next couple months. Nothing about keeping your eye on the ball - let’s call this “Surviving Little League for Parents.” Don’t laugh, it gets nasty in those stands. Your job for those two hours is to be a good example and stay positive no matter how hard it is. Remember, they’re kids and they will make mistakes - have patience.
Ask any player what their parent can do for them during a game, they’ll say, “nothing.” You want to support them by cheering but this puts added pressure on your player. Believe me, they’re already feeling pressure.
What they need is focus on what they have been practicing. There will be good plays and not-so-good players. It’s part of the game, part of the process, failure is good, we learn.
Your roll as a parent and fan is supporting players with a positive attitude. The goal is teaching them to “love” the game. When they “love” it, they’ll dedicate the time and effort to be good at it.
Coaching my children for 17 years I learned early that it’s more important to have peace at the dinner table then to talk about their weaknesses. This is a game of failure, if your player strikes out 7 of 10 times, they would be rewarded with a multi-million dollar contract in the M.L.B.
Errors will happen, they will make outs. Productive outs is our goal, learn the game, know the difference, it will bring enjoyment to the game. It’s a rule of mine not to talk about games until the day after when we’ve had time to process things and emotions are no longer involved, stay positive.
You can’t control things happening on the field. You can set a great example from the stands. Congratulate players making good plays no matter which team they play for. “Nice block,” “way to stay with it,, “great swing,” can go along way in encouraging players.
Be known as that “weird” parent that wants every player to be successful, not just yours.
Players develop at different ages and most don’t develop depth perception till around age 8. Johnny will miss fly balls, it’s ok, he’ll get better. There are exceptions to the rules. Baseball is a game of repetition, the more you practice, the better you get.
It’s most important to practice fundamentally sound baseball. By this, I mean doing things the right way. Coaches have 2 hours at practice, not nearly enough time. I encourage you to offer assistance to coaches.
Mastering anything takes time and effort, find the time, make the effort. Coach only has those two hours a day, that leaves you with 22. If you can’t find the time, find an instructor. I always told my players, you get better “after” practice, not during.
Playing catch is important, proper footwork and follow through are essential. Hit your fielder balls after practice, work on foot work, all sports center around foot work. YouTube is an excellent source for information. Remember, fundamentals are most important, good ball players won’t become great without good, sound fundamentals.
Coaches are not paid, they volunteer, taking away time from their family. Show support, stay positive. Never belittle them to your player, it breaks down the relationship they are building.
If Johnny isn’t hitting the ball, buy him a $20 batting T and wiffle balls, hang up a blanket in the garage, a hundred hacks a day. Fundamentally sound swings will make him a force at the plate.
Remember, stay positive, your job is support the whole team, coaches included. Do this and your player is on his way to reaching his goals. Next week I’ll give you the “keys” to making this the best season yet.