Dear Baseball Parents: 3 Step Guide To A Great Car Ride Home

Feb 06, 2020 by Andrew Chartrand in  baseball camps

A 3 Step Guide To A Great Car Ride Home

Parents, do you ever feel as if you are stuck on what to say to your child after a long day on the field? Now, normally on the good days, where your child has a few hits and played well the conversation might seem easy.

A quick, “Good Game”, or “Wow, way to play today!” In hopes that your son or daughter will take over the conversation with how they felt, or the play-by-play from their perspective of being on the field.

Well with all good things, comes the bad, and in those times, do you feel as if you freeze up?

Or do you feel as if the awkward silence has weight within the room, and you are finding any way to make it less stressful?

Being a college athlete, I have endured countless car rides home, some of them being my parents and I interrupting each other in excitement over the unbelievable plays made in the game and some of them being dead silent.

 Though there were the bad days where no one knew what to say, not even me, those were the days that helped shaped me into the player and man I am today. 

Parents, here are some helpful hints and insight into the ways to effectively communicate through the good and bad days your child will go through when playing this game.

 

Hint #1: BE SUPPORTIVE 

No matter what kind of day your child is having, be there. Tell them how the game personally made you feel like a supporting figure, but then after, LISTEN.

For several years in my life, I believe I felt like I held my true opinions internally on the game until I was alone and could express myself. This was not healthy, as I was bottling up my emotions, rather than expressing them.

Parents, please, let your children who are passionate about their sport(s) express themselves, they need to get the emotions out and in the open in order to best cope and move forward.

Just like us adults, when we hold things in, rather than expressing them it negatively impacts our emotional aura.

Children experience this as well when playing sports, so rather than sitting in the car in silence, even if it was a tough day at the field, make sure you show support and engage in getting your children to express how they are feeling after each game, proving your true support, as well as helping them move forward.

When children see you care for their feelings, and you give them the opportunity to express themselves, it shows them how much you truly care, and are there for them as a true support system in their life both as an athlete, and an individual in this world.

 Hint #2: Communicate WITH your Child, Rather than TO Him 

Being an athlete you put a tremendous amount of pressure on yourself to succeed. In the game of baseball, you see as each player goes through an emotional rollercoaster throughout each game based on the different outcomes and circumstances that come within a baseball game.

Being that athletes apply so much pressure to themselves when we are faced with failure, on numerous accounts our first reaction is to be upset with ourselves for not being successful.

What this does over time is break us down, and then what we need most after is for the people we love most to adapt with us and feel as we do base on the outcomes of the current game.

Take this, for example, your son/daughter has the game of his life, goes 4-4 with a walk-off home run, the success and emotions he will feel this day will normally be much different than the day he happens to go 0-4 with 2 strike-outs.

What we tend not to realize is the significance of what they were truly feeling in those moments. Rather than saying “Today was just a tough day”, or “You tried your best”, try encouraging them by asking what they were feeling that specific day. Or, ask them what they felt did not work one day, compared to the day they were successful.

Questions that make the athlete reflect on their current states within the game will positively lead to them reflecting, and working towards better execution in the future.

Allowing your children to learn from their mistakes is a normal want for most parents, so applying the same core values to the sport they love, will show them you are there for them, rather than just there to watch.

Work with your child on coming to resolve or a solution to work for come the next time he/she touches the diamond.

Referring to the emotional side of baseball, rather than just the physical demand that comes with playing this sport will give your child insight into the larger aspect of this game.

That being, that the majority of true-life lessons you learn can be easily implemented to the game of baseball, thus making them realize in the end that we truly are still just ‘playing a game’.

Paying attention to how your child is feeling within, and effectively getting he/her to communicate it with you will lead to healthier coping remedies come the next time they feel this way, either after another game or after a life event.

Communication is key, and doing so with your child, rather than directing comments at him will better lead to fluent and healthy conversation in the car ride home from both good and bad performances.

Adjust your topics, to the things your athlete has been feeling or is expressing with you, in order to give off the most effective and efficient communication to your child.

Being an athlete is not easy, but having a support system, and someone to turn to effectively communicate when you need too is detrimental in the overall success of any athlete and person in this world.

 Hint #3: Explain the Bigger Picture 

 Being an athlete myself, it took me a long time to see the relevance, and the overall outcomes you learn from playing the game of baseball.

There are countless life lessons I am going to take away from this game, that I never truly realized at a young age.

These lessons are something I believe children need to learn to not only see but also act upon starting at a much younger age.

Learning when to be effectively aggressive, as well as learning to control your breathing in order to better control yourself in each situation is something I wish I would have understood earlier, and it is something I believe parents can show and explain to their kids based on what each child felt and expresses to you after a game.

 These moments that we as baseball players express as, “Oh I just missed that, next time I have to be ready just a little sooner” or, “Man, I didn’t expect that base-runner to do that, next time I will learn and expect them to attempt to score on the same opportunity”.

These sayings, the little things that lead to us making adjustments are things adults do every day. Whether that be, planning to leave for work a few minutes earlier on a Monday, due to traffic being a little worse than normal, or you have to accommodate to an unexpected meeting within the workplace.

These adjustments on our toes, and learning to work with them rather than making excuses to be defeated by them are things your children will one day face.

So, simply explain that to them, use their examples to better them for the world outside the white-lines, as well as within them, this way come other challenges they face, or competition that arises within their life, they will be better prepared to work to become successful.

As much as we who endure in this game love it, there is more to life and we ALL know that. But, as a child I remember thinking there was nothing more important than finding a way to win a game, the thing is that mentality should go hand-in-hand with the mentality we as athletes have outside the field as well.

As parents, make sure you express the fact that there is more to life and that these things your athlete is experiencing are things that will come up over and over again within their life, and it takes the ability of continuously making adjustments in order to best accommodate to each situation we face.

This game comes with so many highs, and lows. So many emotions and feelings that are hard to explain in words at times.

But athletes need a support system, one that is there to communicate with you and help you understand the emotions you are feeling. The life lessons and experiences that come with the game are ones that need to be remembered, and if effectively communicated and reviewed, can be detrimental in further success in life.

The car ride home from games has never been an easy task, yet I hope these hints make it a bit more impactful and beneficial for the family as a whole.

 

American Baseball Camps — 5 Ways to Encourage in a Game of Failure

Apr 18, 2019

5 Ways To Encourage In A Game Of Failure

 

#1 Build Self-Esteem

In D1 Baseball we learn about the importance of self-talk and how it can translate into better success on the field. This is something I wish I would have known when I was growing up in youth sports. Self talk is so important — Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.

It is important in self-esteem building to not compare yourself to others in baseball! So many of the complaints we hear from baseball parents have something to do with some other player on their team and “special treatment.” Jealousy and comparisons with teammates are not healthy thought to be going through a youth baseball players’ head. Parents don’t compare your kid to others on the team.



 #2 The Power of the Bribe

A great way to encourage in youth baseball is with the good old-fashioned bribe. Coaches and parents, pick up a pack of helmet stickers at a local sporting goods store for around $5-10. With these stickers you can interchange hits or home runs with numbers on the back of his helmet. This way you can encourage his success while incentivizing him to be successful.

#3 Positive Reinforcement > Negative Reinforcement

In an already negative game (especially when you get older) extra negativity should be avoided. We already talked about negative thoughts and comparisons with teammates. But there are other areas where positivism and encouragement can overcome negativity. Smiles are better than stern looks when a child looks at you during a game. Smiles are so powerful. They always tend to make others smile. Rather than getting on to your kid when he messes up in baseball try phrases like: “so what” or “get em next time.”



After all, it is just a game. A game that is much more fun when you are encouraged along the way!

#4 Seek Encouraging Instruction

There are two types of coaches out there, the one that encourages, and the one that screams at kids because he’s stuck in 1997 when he played. Seek out those coaches that are knowledgeable enough to know that kids play the best when they have high self-esteem and believe in themselves. Find coaches that cultivate that kind of mindset at the baseball field.

#5 Sign up for a Fun Baseball Camp

The best and most encouraging baseball summer camps in the country are American Baseball Camps. D1 instruction from the D1 Players with an emphasis on encouragement: Phoenix AZ | Wichita KS | Kansas City MO| Tulsa OK

 

– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player

Shop Upcoming Youth Baseball Camps (Ages 6-12)

American Baseball Camps Home Page

 




Youth Baseball Advice — How To Run A Great Practice

Apr 15, 2019

How To Run A Great Practice

On our trek across the country with American Baseball Camps we have learned that many kids aren’t getting any better at their practices. Smart baseball parents are seeking out teams that run legitimate practices where their kid can actually get better, and I don’t blame them.

One of the worst practice stories we heard was in Tahlequah Oklahoma. A dad told me that at his kid’s practices the coach would put everyone in a group in the outfield and hit fly-balls and whoever catches it, catches it. This is similar to a game we used to play as kids called “500” but it certainly isn’t an entire practice!

This how-to guide on running a great practice is based on 20 years of good baseball experience, extensive research, and being a veteran player at one of the top D1 Baseball Programs in the country.

The Warmup

About ten years ago sports scientists realized that there is a more efficient way to warm-up than to just static stretch and count to ten. It is recommended to run kids through a “dynamic warmup” before practice and that “static stretch,” that you may be familiar with, after practice.



Here’s a quick example of a good dynamic warmup, it works best in two lines starting on the outfield foul line:

  • jog 45 feet, jog back
  • shuffle 45 feet, shuffle back
  • karaoke 45 feet, karaoke back
  • high knees 45 feet, high knees back
  • butt kicks 45 feet, butt kicks back
  • walking quad stretch 45 feet, walking quad stretch back
  • leg swings 45 feet, leg swings back
  • skipping leg swings 45 feet, skipping leg swings back
  • lunges, side lunges 45 feet, jog back
  • sprint 45 feet, sprint back

Upper Body Stretch:

  • small arm circles forward, big arm circles forward
  • small arm circles backwards, big arm circles backwards
  • shoulder stretch across
  • tricep stretch
  • arm swings high to behind you (bicep stretch)
  • rotator cuff stretch on the ground (lay on your throwing arm side put arm at 90 degree angle and push hand down towards the ground).

Play Catch

When they play catch remind them to take it seriously. You cannot win in baseball if you can’t play catch. Teach them the catch game to keep them locked in. If you hit them in the chest 3 points, hit them in the face 2 points, hit them in the arms or legs 1 point. Front elbow should be up and pointing towards where you want to throw it when you are playing catch.

*Water break*

On Field BP with the Rest of The Teams Taking Live Reps

BP on the field is a great way to see the results of your batting practice. It also gives the fielders a chance to take live reps off the bat if you do it right. Split your team into 4 groups of 3 (lets say you have 12 for the example). When 1 group hits, the other 9 players are in the field taking live reps off their teammates hitting, or fungos from a coach. Coaches stand adjacent to home plate. The coach on the 3rd base side hits fungos to the first baseman and the shortstop. The coach on the 1st base side hits fungos to the 3rd baseman and 2nd baseman. You need to wait and hit them in between pitches so that kids don’t have to field the fungo and the live grounder at the same time. Mix in some fly balls for the outfielders if they aren’t getting much action live off the bat.



*Water break*

Drill Circuit

Don’t have the whole team running one drill at one time, try to have coaches running simultaneous drills and just have the players rotate. It’s important to be efficient with your practice time. Below we have listed some drills to choose from that we like that we think could make young players a lot better:

  • Rundown drill with a baserunner
  • Pitcher fielding practice
  • Double plays
  • Short hops drill for infielders
  • Quarterback drill (over the shoulder catches)
  • 4 corners drill
  • Around the bucket drill (for infielders to take the right path to the ball)
  • Blocking drill
  • Bare handed ground balls
  • Bare handed receiving practice (catchers)
  • Pickoffs
  • Up the middle drill
  • Soft toss
  • Bunt defense
  • Throwing to second (catcher and middle infielders)
  • ESPN top ten drill
  • Double cuts drill
  • Robbing home runs drill

A good practice is all about getting the player a lot of good reps in a short amount of time. Players will get burnt out if they are out there all day so try to keep a practice around an hour and a half to two hours.

Make everything a game – I was doing a hitting lesson with a kid and was telling him to try to hit the back net of the cage and drive the ball up the middle. He kept pulling everything, he didn’t hit the back net once. Then when I created a game where hitting the L-Screen was 1 point and the back net was 2 points – he took off. Next thing I knew he was saying “I’m gonna get to 20”. Kids respond well to games and challenges, so try to use those to your advantage. If anything they just promote focus and induce competition.

Treat them like studs and they’ll start acting like it – My career took off when I found a coach that treated me like I was better than I really was. You’d be surprised, treat a player like he’s better than he’s playing and he’ll rise to the occasion

Encourage & support – This generation can’t be coached the same way that you were coached growing up. The drill sergeant makes them run till they puke stuff just isn’t needed. These kids are smart and if you treat them with respect, they’ll treat you with it in return. Every player isn’t created equal — you have to coach to your team. Know your players and coach them accordingly.

– Blog was written by a group of older D1 Baseball Players that have chosen to remain anonymous for NCAA reasons.




A TRIBUTE TO BASEBALL MOMS — 5 Things I Was Most Thankful For

Apr 12, 2019

In my 19 years of baseball, I can’t believe I didn’t stop to appreciate my Mom. This tribute is to her, and every Baseball Mom that probably isn’t getting the recognition they deserve.

Really quick back story about myself — Currently a senior at a historic division 1 baseball program. I cannot reveal my name or program for NCAA reasons. I recently got hurt, and started to reflect back on my career. — And so the post begins.

She’s not in any of the pictures, she was always the one taking them… But (Pictured) is me before my first T-Ball game in 1997.



Guys, I really didn’t know what a roller coaster baseball was about to take me on!

#5 A Constant in an Inconsistent Game

One of the things I most appreciated about my baseball Mom over the years was her consistency. This game can beat you down sometimes and my Mom was always there to pick me up. My dad was so up and down with all the highs and lows in baseball, as was I. But that can be hard on a baseball player in an emotional game like baseball. Through the ups and downs of baseball my Mom was happy, thankful, and content to just be with me after the game. You see where dad’s may be upset after an injury or a bad game, Mom’s are just happy to be with you, and happy that you called her to talk about the game. Which leads me to the next thing I was so thankful for, the support.

#4 Moms are Supportive, Dad’s are Expectant

Dad’s expect a lot out of their sons, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in a game of failure those expectations are going to be let down an awful lot. I never got that feeling with my Mom though. My Mom was at the same amount of games as he was, she was repping our team colors just as much too. Yet, I never get the feeling like she’d be wavered in anyway by an 0 for 20 stretch.

#3 Moms relieve pressure

When a little kid messes up in the game of baseball, think about all the things that are going through his head. He’s mad at himself that he “messed up”, his self talk is probably harsh. His teammates are let down, his coach shakes his head. The other team is saying something to him as he runs back to the dugout.

This is hard on a kid, trust me when I say this, its hard. And what happens from this is an unnecessary pressure that baseball players start to put on themselves. The fear of negative outcomes makes a kid think and expect things of himself he shouldn’t.



That is where my Baseball Mom was huge for me. She was screaming just as loud saying “its okay” after a bad strike out as she was when I hit a home run. (Okay, maybe not quite as loud as a home run cheer but you get the point).

She just took the pressure away. That was so huge for me, I can’t believe I didn’t realize it all that time.

#2 She was Positive in a Negative Game

That overly positive, thinks their kid is the greatest, thing that Mom’s do — that’s actually extremely helpful. Confidence is so big in baseball. This is one thing that makes a naturally good baseball player great, and Mom’s are often times the reason kid’s have confidence in themselves. Baseball is a self-esteem destroying sport, so that boost that my Mom always gave me helped me to find a balance. Sure, the game humbled me, and it was hard to be “proud.” But I always believed in myself, and that was because of you, Mom.

#1 She hugged me when I was sad, and stuck with me when I was mad

Even though I’m a “tough tough hard-nosed college baseball player”, I can admit that I got really sad sometimes playing this game. That hug after the game is what I’m referencing here, man was that huge. Mom’s are nurturing, and mine had the tendency to melt away sadness in those discouraging moments.

I got mad a lot with baseball, I probably was a huge jerk there for a while and took a lot of frustration out on my Mom. Which just sounds horrible to me now, but it happened. I don’t know how my Mom stuck with me and didn’t slap me across the face but she did it! She stuck with me. Rude, thought he knew everything, me.

 

Mom, I love you and I couldn’t have went this far in the game of baseball without you! Even though you had to know that I did, sorry I didn’t tell you how much I appreciated you until I was 23. You were there for me when the game got me down when I was 4. Just as you were when the game knocked me down when I was 23. And I thank you for all the things you did in-between.

Mom — This tribute is for you

 

– Written by Nick Rotola Founder of American Baseball Camps offering Youth Baseball Camps for ballplayers ages 6-12 across the US! Check out the camps page to see if ABC has a camp near you!