I know you love your kid. I know you will do what you think is best. I understand. It can be very difficult for those who don’t understand that baseball and softball is by their very nature a game of managing “failure”. It is a humbling game. Similar to golf, it is the ones that manage or view failure the “best” are often the most successful. The best pitchers on the planet throw bad pitches, lose games and give up home runs. The best hitters on the planet strike out, hit into double plays and swing & miss the ball by 2 feet. Umpires make bad calls. A parent(s) reaction to these type of short-term “failures” is CRITICAL as it relates to how your child views the game as well as how your child reacts personally to these events. How a parent reacts and what they say does impact how well a child plays, their confidence and for how long they continue to play the game in the future.
Steve Springer of Quality At Bats put out this video on the Biggest Mistake Parents Make:
So let me suggest a way of viewing a youths journey through sports. If adopted, this view will help you manage how you react and what you say or don’t say. No, this is not some mind control thing. It’s more about the parent acknowledging and reacting to the reality that the in-games results of any youth baseball or softball game is not that important in the grand scheme of things. I know it sounds obvious but most parents actions and words say differently.
A parents short-term vision should not be pitch-to-pitch, day-to day or even month-to-month. Twelve consecutive months, a full calendar year, should be every youth parents short-term window. “I can’t do that” – yes, you can. Ask yourself, if you are willing to do “anything for the benefit of my child” then what is the excuse not to decide to change your short-term view for a youth sport?
How does this benefit you and your child? Glad you asked.
- Do you currently say something after every pitch? Even if it is a good pitch?
- Do you give advice after every at-bat that results in an out? or every swing & miss?
- Do you talk more during the game than at practice?
- Do you say anything directly to the umpire when you are sitting on the other side of the fence?
- Do you talk, give advice or ask “what happen” to your child during the game?
- Do you talk about the mistakes, errors after the game or on the ride home?
All of these things would NOT happen if your short-term view was longer than that moment. I can promise you nobody feels worse than the player when a mistake or bad play occurs. Build a kid up. React positively. “You’ll get’em next time.”
I’m not saying you should constantly tell a player how great they are – that’s patronizing and the child knows better. If they want to talk about it, that’s fine. Just remind them you love watching them play and that making your best effort is what’s important.
A youth parents long-term view should be 3 – 5 years. First, what seems obvious but often not the reality in ones immediate actions is this fact – The long-term relationship with your child is far more important than any sport. Living for your child is part of a parents job, living through your child often ends badly for the parent and the child.
The primary focus of the long-term is an increase in overall athleticism. Do not fall for the trap that your child will grow into power. Pro tip: EVERY youth kid is growing/getting older. They grow at different rates at different ages but they are all getting older & stronger, assuming there is a medical reason that prevents it. The point is, getting better is relative to your child’s age/level. Getting older is not getting stronger/more athletic in the sense that all youth are getting older – including the competition.
When you begin viewing youth games or outcomes from a perspective that 12 months is your short-term and that several years is playing the long game, then what happened in the last game doesn’t seem like the end of the world. Am I saying the game stats or the win/loss record from your child’s 12-year-old season doesn’t matter when they get to high school? That’s exactly what I’m saying. “My child may not be playing the game in 3 – 5 years!” Your child may very well be finished playing competitive sports in 3 – 5 years. So the question is why were so mad about that bad call during the last game? …. See how this works? 🙂