In the world of travel baseball, one can easily get caught in the whirlwind of chasing trophies. Chasing trophies is the idea that winning trumps development at the youth level. It usually ends up with talented players eventually hitting a wall and not being able to compete as they get older. This happens because their coach wasn’t really coaching. He was simply filling out a tournament lineup card with the best nine players he could find.
If loading up your son’s bookshelf with trophies at 12-years old is the goal, then have at it. Who am I to tell you what is right for you and your child?
If your son loves baseball and wants to play it as long as he can, find a coach that will help him develop, both as a player and a person. A good coach is a teacher. Not only do they need to have the knowledge but they also need to be able to teach it to young players.
You should ask yourself periodically if your child is becoming a better player and person. Also, remember that the answer to this question has nothing to do with their position or where they hit in the batting order. A kid who bats leadoff and plays shortstop may dominate at 10 years old, but if he isn’t improving, he will eventually hit that wall. A kid who plays a utility role and sometimes struggles at the plate will continue to get better if he has a good coach.
Anyone can throw batting practice or hit ground balls. Make sure your child’s coach is actually coaching.
Baseball is a great game. I love to get outside, feel the heat of a warm summer sun, smell the freshly cut grass and listen to gloves pop as players play catch. I have been around the game my entire life, starting as a player and now coaching my son’s travel baseball team.
My son and I play ball all the time, whether it is a formal team practice or just the two of us. From the first time he ever threw a ball, I vowed to never force or push him to play. I wanted my children to develop their own interests and personalities. I suppose you are a product of your environment, but my son is 11 years old with a passion for the game that seems to grow every time he laces up his cleats.
My dad was not a “baseball guy”. Sure, he played Little League just like everyone else but that was about it. He didn’t play in high school or college. He didn’t have an intricate knowledge of the game to pass on to me. What he did have and what he did pass on to me was the characteristics of being a great father. Take an interest in what your kids enjoy, whatever that may be.
I developed a love for baseball. My dad already had a love for me.
My mom and dad came to every possible game they could, right up until I stopped playing about 12 years ago. They would do everything in their power to see their grandchildren play as well.
Call me conceited if you like, but I know baseball as good as anybody. My body might not be able to play anymore, but my mind is sharper than ever when it comes to mastering this game.
I recognize that I have a tremendous opportunity to teach the game to my son and his teammates. More importantly, I have an opportunity to be a role model. I can show an interest in a child. I can listen. I can care. I can love.
Like my dad.