Coaches, I want you to take a minute and think back to your time as a player. What do you remember?
Do you remember what happened on your 310th career at-bat? Or your fourth high school at-bat result?
The answer to most of these questions is ‘no’. We tend to remember the teams that made us smile, the teammates that played the game the right way, the big pressure moments, and lastly, we share stories about those that dominated our league or those who made it to the next level.
None of our memories are combative, or are regretted opportunities, but rather the times this game was fun.
That’s what teams today miss. As coaches, one of the most dynamic pieces to a successful team is understanding that more than anything, we are playing a game.
Teaching kids to accept failure is extremely difficult, but by creating an atmosphere where your team works hard to be as efficient as possible, with the understanding of
‘MISTAKES ARE GOING TO HAPPEN’ it will better help the players control their emotions, and lead to more success as a group.
A team dynamic is important in the foundation of every team, so effectively distinguishing the main objectives of the team
(I.E. team goals, team objectives, etc.)
WHILE ALSO teaching the mental and emotional aspects that come with this game, can lead to a team bonding in more ways than just baseball.
Relate all lessons learned while playing this game to the bigger picture. Teach the kids that these lessons carry more weight than they may know now, as they will face these same feelings and emotions in the real world.
Those are going to resonate with the players, making them see the bigger picture and understand that the dynamics of the team is bigger than j
ust a “baseball only” mindset.
This will lead to players bonding together, and with the coaches on a deeper level leading to more success as a team moving forward.
Two Quick Tips For Baseball Parents
So you want your kid to be a great baseball player?
Here are 2 quick tips that can help you become a better baseball parent while nudging him in the right direction! Why trust us? We’re division 1 baseball players that have been playing the game for close to 20 years and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, when it comes to baseball parents. And trust us when we say this, we’ve seen some brutal baseball parents.
So what do the best baseball parents do?
#1 Try to remain composed during the game
Dad’s – You are not Joe Maddon sitting on the steps of the dugout with your color coated lineup card and tendency chart but you can certainly remain composed like him. There is a reason the higher up you go in baseball the more composed the coaches/managers are. It’s simply because the data is there to prove that a more relaxed baseball player is a better baseball player study.
Mom’s – Try to keep calm (even though its baseball season). I don’t know what it is about mom’s but they get more fired up about bad calls and bad coaching than anyone on the whole field. Don’t be that mom that’s loud an obnoxious, instead, try to be knowledgeable, laid back, and supportive. My mom helped me out of some of the worst slumps in my life and its because she always let me come to her first. I think if you smother/bombard him, he wont be vulnerable with you. That’s why being laid back if your a baseball mom is the way to go.
#2 Have a little feel
A couple of definitions before we start:
- *Sav – short for “savvy” and means that you’re aware of your surroundings, and that you know a lot about the game.
- *Feel – almost exactly like sav. someone that has no feel is someone that isn’t aware of their surroundings, doesn’t realize the situation they are in, or hasn’t been around the game long enough to in any way know what’s going on.
- An example of someone with no sav and no feel would be like Smalls from The Sandlot when he doesn’t know who Babe Ruth is.
- Salty Vet – An older person who has a lot of feel and/or sav.
Every baseball player will get to that age where he starts to develop some feel for how baseball functions should go on. If you are still going to want to encourage and help your kid when he gets to that age, you are going to have to know your stuff as well! Baseball is a game of endless situations, and the more you watch intently the more you can learn about the game. D1 coaches tell their players to watch baseball on tv because it makes you a better baseball player, and it teaches you feel and sav. For a parent, the goal is to become a salty vet that knows the game and is respected, rather than the laughing stock of the bleachers.
Below we’ve mapped out a few guidelines:
Parents with no feel:
- Yell at the umpire at every close strike call
- Second guess the head coach, and try to talk to him about playing time
- Scream and yell at their kids like a crazy old ice cream truck salesman
- Make everything about them and not about their kid
Parents with feel:
- Under-promise and over-deliver with stuff like gear and dinner/ice cream after (depending on age).
- Dress athletic and are up to date on what they wear.
- Never ever ever talk to the head coach about playing time, it can only hurt.
- Make things look effortless like social media, baseball gear knowledge, or overall knowledge of the game.
In baseball parenting you can either be the windshield or the bug. Don’t be the embarrassing, loud, overbearing, no feel bug. Be the windshield.
– Authors Anonymous 1 and 2 (for NCAA reasons we are not able to disclose the D1 Programs we play for)
*Both authors are pro prospects
Camps can be the highlight of your child’s summer! Great camps create memories that stick with a child for a lifetime! Enough with all the media. Encourage your kid to put the phone down, and get outside and make memories that he’ll never forget!
– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player
I was working on hitting with a 6 year old kid the other day. Just as a favor, one of our family friends asked me to work with her boy. This kid plays t-ball in Oklahoma and is a pretty good little player.
But as I was tossing the ball to him he kept swinging and missing. He said with the utmost confidence “I can’t do it”, even though he ended up foul tipping it, and then connecting with one a few tosses later.
It occurred to me that this particular kid, who is a pretty good player, had never attempted to hit a baseball that wasn’t on a tee! In fact, I’m not so sure he had ever practiced outside of baseball practice. This is what we are going to call the under-prepared player, and he is placed in a severe disadvantage.
On my circuit around the state talking with Youth Baseball Coaches about American Baseball Camps, I overheard a certain coach talking to his 7U team. He was cancelling practice for the next day because he didn’t want the kids to get sick with the cold-front (the forecast was 60 degrees).
This encounter helped me realize that the X FACTOR in youth baseball is getting better outside of organized baseball. You cannot rely on your 9 year old kid’s coach to develop him fully as a player. My friends’ kid practices maybe once or twice before the season, and then plays one game a week. I’m telling you, if your kid is only playing baseball when he has his uniform on, and mom is taking pictures, he is going to have a tough time being great.
When I was 3 years old, and this can be proven with video, I asked for & hit in a batting cage throwing 36 miles per hour. What kind of a 3 year old asks to do that on his birthday? This is because I grew up around baseball, I watched my brothers play, I watched my dad coach, and I was hungry to play! I played all the time, I threw the ball up to myself, and threw into a net when I didn’t have anyone to play catch with. I was always playing wiffle ball, and watching my brothers’ games. Do you think by the time I was 6 I didn’t believe in myself that I could hit a ball tossed to me? No I was the kid saying “I’m going to smoke this ball.”
The difference in baseball environments between myself and the aforementioned 6 year old is what I believe to be the X FACTOR in Youth Baseball. It is what can set your kid apart from the pack.
To demonstrate this further lets take two kids and you decide which one will be the dominant player on his team.
Signs up for t-ball and is excited for his first practice.
Practices a couple times before his first game and spends approximately 1.5 hours a week playing.
Mom leaves his glove and bat in the car until the next game
Signs up for t-ball with a comprehensive understanding of the game and how it works. Including an understanding of the force out rule.
Practices almost if-not everyday with friends or family in the backyard with a bat and a ball, or a broomstick and a tennis ball, anything they can get their hands on.
Sleeps with his glove on his nightstand, loves to play catch and have dad hit him ground balls and fly-balls in the backyard
The Highest Probability of Success
What I am saying is not that player #1 will never be successful, or that parents need to drill their kid to be like player #2. My point is that baseball is a sport that requires “reps.” Why do division 1 shortstops take 100 ground balls a day? Because it makes it so easy by the time they get one in the game that it becomes routine. It takes practice to become a great baseball player, you can’t just show up and rely on athleticism.
Baseball is a beautiful sport because it is proven that a kid that gets more reps outside of baseball will be better than a more athletic kid that doesn’t understand or practice the game.
You can’t make a kid love a sport, and you don’t want to be that baseball parent that is resented for trying to force work-ethic. But you can certainly help cultivate a baseball environment at home. Your kid will never be great if he is only doing baseball things at the field twice a week, with a practice every other.
The kids that have a passion for the game have been and always will be the best.
That is the X FACTOR in youth baseball, getting extra baseball reps outside of baseball practice/games.
“Those that fail to prepare are preparing to fail” – Ben Frankin
– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player
Confidence. Confidence. Confidence. Many talk about how important it is in youth baseball, but few youth baseball players have it! We lay out in this brief blog a few simple things to instill in your kid to give him tremendous confidence at the plate. Sometimes the smallest mental adjustments can make the biggest difference in youth baseball.
“The expert in everything was once a beginner.”
Step #1: Remember The Good, Forget The Bad
When a kid is hitting well he usually continues to build confidence as he does so. This is why you should reminisce about great at-bats. Remembering yourself being successful can be a great tool as you are on the on-deck circle.
This is one of the best ways to quickly build a kid’s confidence, just remind him of his last great at-bat. On the contrary, bad at-bats can do the same for a kid negatively.
Those are the at-bats you’ll have to encourage him to forget about. That is such an important thing to teach your kid about his at-bats; remember the good ones, and forget the bad ones.
“You have to have a short memory. Learn from your failures, but don’t sit around worrying about them.” – Derek Jeter
Step #2: Walk To The Plate With Your Chest Out
Confidence is something that a kid can control if he really wanted to. One of the best ways to get him to feel that feeling of confidence is to teach him to walk with it. Have him grab the barrel of the bat and walk to the plate like he’s got the biggest chest on the field.
It is scientifically proven that good posture can boost confidence and that being confident can boost confidence. Have him do both every time he walks to the plate and we guarantee you he’ll hit better!
Step #3: Be Fearless
No matter how small or skinny your youth baseball player is, you can teach him to be fearless at the plate. There is no reason you should ever give the opposing pitcher any credit when talking to your son.
If your kid is 8, let him know that he can hit any 8-year old in the country. Look at the worst kids in youth sports, they probably all have one thing in common, fear. Fear can kill a young ballplayers mindset and it should be avoided at all costs.
Speak positive things to your young ballplayer, and never give an opposing pitcher too much credit, your kid can hit him if he’s fearless I promise!
Step #4: Have A Routine At The Plate
You’ve seen all the big league guys, they do the same things and they have the same rituals every time they step into the batters box. There is a reason they do this, it builds confidence and adds a level of consistency and comfort.
Baseball players play the best and hit the best when things feel routine. Nothing is more routine than doing the same thing every time you step into the box.
So whether your kids’ thing is to spit on his batting gloves or dig into the back corner of the box, encourage him to do the same thing every time. When things become routine, they become easier.
Step #5: Visualize Success
This last one is the best because it can be done at any time of day, even outside of baseball. Teach your kid to visualize positive outcomes in his spare time. Your brain can’t distinguish the “imagined home-runs” for example from the “real home-runs.”
What that means is that eventually it can feel like your kid has done it before and the brain tricks the muscles into feeling like they can do it easily. I remember sitting on the bench before an at-bat, visualizing myself hitting a double in the gap, and then going out there and doing it first pitch.
I’ll tell you what, visualizing success in baseball works! I wish I would have known about it when I was 10 or so like many of your kids!
– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player