Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Parent Involvement.. Let Kids Earn It On Their Own

Spring is nearly here. Youth baseball teams are practicing (indoors and outdoors depending on your climate) and preparing for the season's first games which are soon to come. The kids are anxious to hit, field, run and throw. The coaches are anxious to teach and orchestrate the game. Parents are looking forward to watching their kids have fun and learn great lessons like good sportsmanship, team work, etc. Life is good!

OK so far this is a fairly utopic picture I'm painting... right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. While we hope the thoughts and experiences described above do happen (and many do), it's not all roses and sunshine in youth baseball or youth sports overall for that matter. Today let's address one issue in particular... Parent Involvement or "PI".

PI can be a good thing... parents who help coaches with games & practices, keeping order on the bench, cheering for every player on the team or help with raking a field. Parents who help the league by volunteering to assist with improvements or working in the snack bar. Youth leagues welcome "givers" like this. Actually, they can't survive without them. These parent are naturally concerned with the well being of their own children, like all of us. The difference is they also care about the community as a whole and see the value in what youth sports programs bring to kids.

But unfortunately PI can also be a bad thing... parents who are only concerned about their own child's advancement and treatment. They try to influence coaches to favor their child at the behest of other kids. They seek preferential treatment of their child because they feel their kid is "advanced" or the next coming of Derek Jeter. They have little consideration for other players or coaches in the league and will even go as far as to put another kid down in order to give their own child an advantage. These "takers" are the scourge of youth sports. These misguided, delusional souls undermine all that is good with youth sports programs. While small in numbers they put a tremendous strain on kids (including their own), coaches, league officials and other parents.

What's most important about youth baseball is that kids get a chance to learn lessons that will help them throughout their entire life's journey. Being a good teammate, working with others, dedication, focus, commitment, good sportsmanship and achieving something on their own. These are the jewels that kids can take from youth sports.

Today's so-called "helicopter parents", constantly hovering over their child (literally and figuratively), are always clearing the path for their kids. Making sure that they get exactly what they want, every time, without fail. Well, wake up! Life isn't like that. There are ups and downs. Baseball, a game of failure, can be an effective way for kids to learn how to cope with adversity.

The kids who are given the chance to make their own way like earning a starting spot on a team or hitting his/her way to the top of the lineup... those are the kids who will more than likely take something special away from youth sports. An ability to achieve what they want in life on their own.

Conversely, the kids who's parents game the system or influence coaches on their kids behalf with the goal of constantly paving the way for the children, may have a harder time making it on their own as teenagers or adults. The slap in the face for these parents may be when their 25 year old is still living at home, without a job, because he/she is reliant on Mom and Dad doing everthing for them.

It's simple really... Help your child prepare so they can earn what they want on their own. Practice with them, teach them game strategy, help them with the mental side of the game. These things will help the become better players. It will also be the best thing for them in the "long run".

Coach Bob

1 comment:

Tim Knouse said...

Well said!!! Sounds alot like we should have been coaching together..., or have we?
Tim Knouse, Amazing Baseball Tips...The book!!!