So I’m getting a little opening day speach ready for the Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley Little Leagues. I’ve got to deliver one this weekend and one the next. As part of the speech, I’m going to throw in my two cents on what I think the roles and responsibilities of the parent, coach, and player are. So, since you probably won’t be at either of those opening days, here are a couple brief opinions/insights that might benefit you as the baseball season begins.
1. Show up on time and work hard. You’re part of a team and others are depending on you.
2. Play the game to the best of your ability and find a way to have fun that doesn’t depend on your results. With so much failure in this game, if you’re only happy when you do well, you won’t be happy much and won’t be any fun to be around.
3. Make an effort to learn the game and pay attention. Learn something new everyday. Learn how to anticipate action and get your thinking done before or in between the action so that when the play happens you are free to “just do it”.
“You can’t think and (hit) play at the same time” ~ Yogi Berra
COACHES AND PARENTS -
1. Educate yourself about the game and pass on the knowledge. Go to games with your kid. You don’t need to spend a lot of dough by going to a pro game, just seek out the Junior College or high school games. Analyze, dissect, pay attention, ask questions, discuss, share, grow together.
2. Encourage the kids.
3. Make sure they’re practicing correctly. This is a game of repetition. What you do the most is going to be what you do when the chips are down. Build strong habits in practice so in a game you can again, “just do it.” You’ll enjoy the confidence that comes when you’ve practiced correctly and got the right mechanics. Remember, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.
“Do it right or don’t do it at all” ~ Mike Mayne
4. Help them understand this is a game of failure and help them persevere through the inevitable rough times. The best players, more often than not, are the ones who fail the best. They don’t let negative results or mistakes get to them. They have a strong belief in themselves that isn’t tied into their results and have the ability to focus on the moment. If you get a hit 3 out of 10 times, you’re doing well. Thats failing 7 times!
“During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out 1,700 times and walked 1,800 times. That means I played 7 years without ever hitting the ball.” ~ Mickey Mantle
5. For All Parties….understand full well the difference between practice and game time!
“When they start a game, they don’t say “work ball or practice ball”. They say “play ball”. ~ Willie Stargell
Ideally when you play, you want that “zone” experience – a quiet, clear mind. You’re not worrying about mechanics or results, failures, or successes. Just complete focus on the task at hand. Devote !00% of your sense capability to “see ball hit ball”. By worrying about mechanics or by listening to what your coach/parent is saying while you’re trying to play, you’re fracturing your focus. You’ve got 20% of your energy going towards feeling where your hands are (mechanics), you’ve got 20% going towards listening to someone yell at you, and you’ve only got 60% left for the all important “see ball hit ball!” Learn how to shut off the noise and pinpoint your focus. Trust the skills that you’re bringing to the field that day and just play.
6. That being said, as a parent or coach understand that during the game the kids are trying to focus, play, and flow and need to take those couple of hours to perfect this most important part of the game. Encourage them but try not to instruct during this time. You’ve got all week to improve their mechanics. Leave em alone to play during the game.
THE BEST OF LUCK THIS SEASON…HAVE FUN, PLAY HARD, AND KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL.