What is the Biggest Problem in Youth Baseball?
Baseball can be a fantastic opportunity for parents and their children to share something special together. From watching a game on TV, a city park, a major league baseball game, or coaching your son or daughter. The opportunity is there for teaching so many of life’s lessons. Baseball allows for an escape from whatever else maybe going on. When you picture being at a game with your parents, great images may rush through your mind, but for others, the thoughts may not be so fond.
I posed a question on twitter a week ago, “What is the biggest problem with youth baseball?” and the answers were not all that surprising to me. The top few answers were parents, poor fundamental and uninformed coaches. I wanted to address these three problems that have led the list.
The responses were actually fathers but I changed it to parents because I have seen plenty of out of control mothers also. As a father of three, I understand emotions can take over at times and we say or do thing we are not proud of. Most mistakes by parents happen because they care too much, but we need to find a way control ourselves.
Being nervous for your son and screaming at little Johnny while he is hitting is not helping. Constant shouting of instructions not only confuses him, it also adds stress and removes the fun from the game.
Cheer and be there fan!
Leave the game time instruction to the coaches. When the game is over PLEASE don’t start down the list of everything they did wrong in the game. Yes this can be difficult not to do but please refrain for at least a little while after the game.
Let them feel that your love is not performance based.
The politics of parents is not going to end although it would be nice. “His son made the all star team because his dad is on the board, his dad is the coach etc.” I wish this would go away but I do not see it happening. This type of nepotism happens in the business world. Yes, it is frustrating, if you are on the wrong side of it. Politics play a role all the way to the Big Leagues. Using this as an excuse does not make the situation better. This is an opportunity for teaching moment at home. Take advantage of this opportunity to teach life lessons. Continue to work and improve. Get the most out of what you have been blessed with.
Lastly, fathers please remember that your chance at baseball is over. This is your son’s game. Let it be his! Encourage and give them every chance to succeed. Your time is done. It comes for all of us.
Poor Fundamentals and Uninformed Coaches
I combined these two because they kind of work together. Every year we hear the announcers on TV in the playoffs say pitching and defense win championships. The statement is true if you make the plays consistently in the field your team will have a chance to win regardless of how much offense you may or may not have.
So how come youth teams as a whole bypass the importance of a good game of catch. Making accurate throws, using proper mechanics while throwing. I work with a lot of high school age boys on their throwing mechanics and I am shocked how they have played that many years and don’t really know how to throw a baseball properly.
Most of these boys have played many years of club baseball where coaches in many cases were paid. The focus too often is taken off of playing the game properly and moves instead towards Wins and Losses.
Yes it is important to teach winning but I would vehemently argue it is more important to teach the game properly and train boys to become men. The reality is, teaching fundamentals will help the team win more games. There are enough resources on the Internet now to help coaches teach throwing mechanics, how to catch a ball, and hitting mechanics. Do a little research and you will find what you were taught when you were 10 years old may not have been correct.
PLEASE DON’T TELL A CHILD TO PUT THEIR ELBOW UP.
I do not want to discount the jobs that volunteer coaches do while coaching youth leagues but please do some homework and a little research on how to run a practice and what the mechanics of throwing or hitting should be. Help them learn the right way from an early age so they don’t have to break bad habits later.
As parents, we all need to step back and admit maybe “I don’t know it all and let me get some help”. There is plenty out there.
Enjoy this wonderful game and all the lessons it can teach. Let this game create a bond, not a divider with your son or daughter.
Until Next Time,