I have read so many tweets about how a college coach or pro scout watched a kid play and they did something that they didn’t like or their parents acted a certain way which cost them a scholarship or a chance to play professionally.
Can we please stop using the next level as the reason kids shouldn’t pout or parents shouldn’t carry their son or daughters gear. It is ridiculous. The fact is most players will never play collegiately or professionally but all of them will grow-up to be adults who have major life responsibilities. They will have jobs and families of their own. These will occupy more of their time, resources, and effort than baseball and softball ever will. The lessons on the field should be ones that help players become better people not just so they can achieve a scholarship.
Parents if playing at the next level and getting a college scholarship is all you are consumed with then you need to do some self-evaluation. There are a few things that I think we can avoid as parents to help our kids be better people and become more responsible when playing baseball or softball to allow the lessons the game can provide to shine through.
#1 – Put the bag down.
If your son or daughter is athletic enough to play the game, then they can carry their own gear. They are playing baseball or softball, not golf, you are not their caddy. Seriously, do you carry their books to school for them too? Let them be responsible for their stuff.
#2 – Forgot something, let them figure it out.
Don’t come rushing to their aid if they forgot something. They didn’t pack their cleats for practice. Let them suffer the natural consequence of having to practice in tennis shoes or their Birkenstocks. If they call you, begging, tell them to F.I.O. (Figure It Out) They will have to rely on teammates to help them solve their problem. It is way better for them to suffer the natural consequence then for you to be the hero every time something is forgotten. If they forgot their jersey…they don’t play. The lesson to be responsible will be learned much faster by players when we as parents stop saving them for consequences of their actions.
#3 – Gatorade
“Mom get me a Gatorade!” Every weekend it is said and every weekend there are parents that come to the rescue. They run to the concession stand and get them the Yellow Gatorade because that is their favorite. Parents, you are just complying with your kids demands. Not to mention it was completely rude. Many times, they don’t even ask nicely. Instead, have them be responsible to think ahead. If it is a double header then they better pack extra drinks from home. If they run out of water during the game, then tell them to find a water fountain and fill it up themselves between at-bats or innings. If you are at the dinner table and one of your kids runs out of something to drink do you head to the fridge for them to get a refill? Avoid giving them too much assistance on things you know they can do themselves.
#4 – Let them speak
If a coach is talking to them then let them respond. It may be alright to give a hint about what to start with but don’t do it all for them. Communication face to face is already lacking in younger generations with the cell phone being such a huge part of their lives. Allow them the freedom to speak, screw it up, and learn from it. If parents take the opportunity away then there is hardly a chance to learn anything.
Sports can teach players some great life lessons, if we as parents allow that to happen and don’t keep sabotaging the process.