Imagine that you are in the most stressful
situation that you could possibly be in with all of your family and
friends watching. Imagine that you are asked to do something that
is so physically difficult that most people fail three times more
often than they succeed. Then imagine that the people that you
respect and admire the most in the world are screaming at the top
of their lungs at you while you are trying to do this difficult
task. Sound Tough? Well,... welcome to the world of youth baseball.
I believe that this issue has stunned me
more than any other issue we have talked about. I guess that I must
have grown up in a cocoon or something, but I played hundreds of
games as a kid, and there were never parents and coaches screaming
like they are now. I guess that it is due to the pressure of trying
to get your kid the scholarship, or the pride of having them
accomplish something that you were not able to. But, whatever the
reason, it is ugly...Just ask your kids.
It had been a while since I was at a youth
game, and when I showed up, I couldn't believe what was going on.
There were moms and dads screaming at Johnny Jr. to "get his elbow
up" and to "stop swinging at the high ones." The coach on third
base was telling him that his "elbow was too high" and the first
base coach was telling him the old "keep your eye on the ball."
Poor kid didn't know which end of the bat to grab by the end of it
all. I couldn't help but feel sorry for all of them, because they
were all trying to do their best, but failing miserably.
As I talk to everyone in the game from
current players, to Hall of Famers from our past, I always ask
them, "How did your parents act at your games?" It is overwhelming
and near unanimous that they never heard a word from them. A
couple, myself included, would hear a distinct whistle, voice, or
clap that they recognized after they did something well. But there
was never any screaming or yelling, or instructing coming from
their parents during the game. Coincidence that all the people I
talked to had the same kind of parents? I don't think so.
My point? Let's get back to the fact that
less than 1% of the kids that play youth sports go on to play that
sport in high school, let alone, collegiately or professionally.
Let's talk about the incredibly fortunate ones who do make it all
the way to the highest level. They will tell you that the best
thing their parents did for them was to be a silent source of
encouragement during the game, and an ice cream buyer after. For
the 99% who are just playing for fun, please let them have fun. If
you think that yelling (even encouraging words) and mechanical
instructions are helping your child, the odds are that you are
making it more difficult, and more stressful for them. They have
the rest of their lives to learn about pressure and stress. Let
them have fun. You will be amazed how much more enjoyable the game
will be for you, when you take the pressure off yourself to be
worlds best hitting instructor, and to just be a spectator, and fan
of your child doing something that they love.
...I'll bet I rattled the hornets nest a
little with this one. I look forward to your responses. Positive