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Parents … Remember, IT’S A GAME

The last article I wrote, I really dove into my frustrations with coaches and why I believe we all are failing our players. We expect a lot out of them without teaching. This week, I am really going to go after some of the things I see parents do that really gets under my skin, both as an instructor and coach.

Parents, we have to really think about what the end goal is here. Do you want your kids to have an everlasting, enjoyable experience playing a GAME, or do you want them to play with the pressures of always having to crush it and be the best every single second of every single day? If you allow them to LOVE the sport, they will work as hard as you want them to (just like your job)

Believe me, as a coach, I see myself pushing kids too hard sometimes, but remember, I’m only at practice and practice is when we have to teach them the game and allow them to learn through drills, trial and error, etc. I have to remember sometimes that it’s just a game and the kids are there working hard and love playing. There is a time and place to be hard on them. I believe a kid that’s being lazy, not hustling, irresponsible, lacking accountability, etc. are reason to push someone harder and be tough on them. I believe the game of baseball and softball can teach SO many life lessons and prepare them for the hardships and successes of life. I also think that because the game is so incredibly hard, we have to allow them to fail and encourage them to continue to work hard and try to get better. 

Think about this:

Do you really think that your kid shows up to baseball every day and wants to fail? Do you think they want to get out? How about make an error? ABSOLUTELY NOT! They are not trying to make mistakes and we have to be aware of that. Once the kids get into the game, LET THEM PLAY. Practice time is the time to be tough and ultimately TEACH them how to get better. Yes, it’s frustrating to see our kids fail and it’s frustrating to see them not do well after all the time, effort and money you put into lessons, practices, camps, clinics, etc., but remember how much you have failed in your life and how much those failures have taught you. These are AMAZING life lessons for your son and daughter. That’s what makes the game of baseball/softball so great. It is a game that teaches us about getting knocked down and getting back up.

Here’s my theory:

Practice — TEACH, be tough, push them, make them work harder and more intense than ever before. Get the most out of them, but at the end, let them enjoy a game that will allow them to have fun and want to come back. WE WANT THE KIDS TO COME BACK TO THE NEXT PRACTICE

Games — BACK OFF — LET THEM PLAY. Please. Just be their support system. Whether they play well, or fail, they need you. They want their parents to tell them, “Great game” after they played well. They also want you to tell them, “Get them next time. Let’s forget about it and come back tomorrow with a good practice to work on it” after a bad game.

Kids need someone to turn to after a good game and a bad game. That has to be their biggest support system, mom and dad. Listen, all of the players who consistently work hard and try to get better every day will have an opportunity at baseball or softball at the next level, whatever that level may be.

Do you really want your kid to “get to the next level” if they hate it? 

I love the game, so much that I am trying to make a career out of it. Whether it’s a good day or a bad day, I love going to work. That’s worth everything in the world. I believe that I love the game because I always made sure I had fun playing it. Whether it was outside, inside, wiffle ball, tennis baseball, whatever; I just wanted to play. The passion came from fun, not pressure. Did I practice hard? Absolutely. Did I play hard? Yes. But more importantly, did I have fun? More than anyone else on the field. I believe that I love the game because it is a game and it’s meant to be a game. There’s a time and place to make it a job, not when you’re 10. Not even when you’re 17. If your child has the opportunity to play at the college or professional levels, that’s when their coaches, advisors and management can make it a job. By that time, they will have so much love for the game that they won’t care if it’s work.

Parents, do your kids a favor and teach them to love the game. Play with them in the back yard. I know you’re tired when you get home from work, but you have a little athlete that wants to play catch and hit in the back yard with you. Take them to the field and let them hit the ball around. Parenting an athlete is tough, I know. I watch parents bring their kids all over God’s creation every single day for their sports. It’s exhausting. I just think that they need mom and dad to play with them more. I think they need you guys to get outside and let them enjoy playing catch and playing little games with you in order to love the game even more.

Teaching your kid to love working hard is the toughest thing to do. If they love what they do, it’s never work.