YOUTH BASEBALL: A Cure For Tech Addiction, Family Disconnect, And Childhood Obesity

May 01, 2019 by Nick Rotola CEO of American Baseball Camps in  baseball camps Youth Baseball Advice

“You don’t need a ticket to see some of the best baseball in the world, you just need to drive one of the players to the game.”

 

The quote is true, youth baseball is an extraordinary part of the year for tens of millions of families across the US. So much excitement and fun and togetherness. Youth baseball is an excuse for families to rally behind each other: picking each other up in the lows and celebrating in the highs.

It’s all fun and grand right? Kids are active and they have fun and play with their friends and spent tons of quality time with their family right? Not really.

We could go on for days on how things have changed, but to highlight a few:

  • Kids are looking at their screens 7+ hours a day according to a study (causing anxiety rates in children to reach an all-time high according to this study)
  • Childhood obesity has risen to 18.5% according to this study
  • Families spend an average of 37 minutes of quality time together each day according to this article.

So the athletic environment as a whole is unattractive, yet youth baseball attendance is growing. Why? Could parents be onto something? Maybe its the perfect medicine for a kid growing up in today’s tech-obsessed, unhealthy, and family-distant America.

In this article, we dig into this subject a little deeper.



 

Youth Baseball As A Cure: Less Screen Time More Quality Time

 

According to Pew Research in their study, less than 20% of American homes contain a stay at home parent. This means that 90% of US Parents are only getting to see their children after work (don’t all sigh in relief at once). That’s not to say that working parents are the problem, it just makes the time parents are getting with their children a bit more important. As quantity goes down, quality should go up right? It’s not.

Youth Baseball: Less Screen Time More Family TimeA CBS News Medical Contributor Dr. Tara Narula put it perfectly when she said:

“When you’re with your kids you really need to be good about putting your phone down or your tablet down and talking to them and being engaged because they pick up on exactly what you’re doing,”

An article by the NY Post takes it a step further as it analyzes true quality time American families spend each day and concludes that its fallen to 37 minutes per day. Yikes!

Does that sound too low? Don’t trust the source? Then check this article, or this article, or this article.

Where’s the quality time going? How do we fix it?

I want to pitch a solution that worked for my family, is working for hundreds of baseball parents we currently work with at American Baseball Camps, and that is Youth Baseball

Whether you are driving to tournaments and staying at hotels, or taking your kid to practice and hanging out, baseball provides a bunch of great quality moments together (unwedged by tech)!

This week Baseball Parents all across the US are hitting Starbucks drive-throughs at 7 AM and running yellow lights all the way to the ballfield to make a Round Robbin Tournament Game and there is nothing wrong with that.

You are making memories. You are all (parents too) putting your amazingly entertaining phones away and making memories as a family.

So, your quality time is improving, and the fact that you are actually getting up and doing something is limiting screentime as well.

This is backed by the data as Research Gate’s new study concludes at physical activity makes it easier for kids to follow screen limitations.

 

“What we discovered: Children’s odds of exceeding screen-time limits decreased as the number of physical activity sessions increased.”

 

So we know youth baseball limits screentime, it provides equal or better entertainment, and increases quality time, what else?

 

Youth Baseball As A Cure: Mental Development

 

As we all know from the workforce, it’s tough to do anything without a great team. Forming a team, finding the right teammates, and contributing to the group, are all important factors.

Jim Collins said it best in his book Good to Great when he said: “You can’t get where you want to go without the right people on the bus.” This is true in business and it’s true in baseball.Youth Baseball As A Cure: Mental Development

As ballplayers begin to develop in youth baseball they start to develop traits that will make them successful in life. Here are our favorite two:

1. Youth Baseball helps you function well with a team

Every baseball player has the choice to elevate his teammates or not. It really doesn’t have a negative side effect, encouraging your teammates and helping them to become better always has a place in baseball.

Good teammates are the ones that learn to not throw their stuff because it’s not all about them. They choose to focus on the success of the team rather than their own success. They are coachable, friendly, easy to be around, and hardworking.

Any coach worth his weight will be teaching his youth ballplayers these traits, and its pretty cool when kids are encouraged by someone that’s not their parent.

2. Youth Baseball helps with handling adversity. 

It’s such a broken record but I guess I’ll say it, baseball is a game of failure. Hitters that hit safely 3 or 4 times out of 10 in youth baseball are considered successful. So what about the other 6-7 times? Disappointment!

Baseball is really good about teaching kids to deal with it and good coaches are good about teaching kids to stay even keel throughout a ballgame. Don’t believe in the even keel thing as a parent or coach? Just watch every single baseball manager and how he treats his ballplayers during the game.



 

Youth Baseball As A Cure: Physical Development

Physical Development: Youth Baseball As A Cure

Youth baseball, like many youth sports, is better played when your body feels better.

Don’t believe us? Just watch any MLB player when he’s giving advice to younger kids, its always one of the first things they say to focus on.

Here are a few quick things kids can learn about physical health if they are playing the game the right way.

  • Getting good sleep before a game helps you play better.
  • Eating healthy meals & drinking lots of water makes you feel better when you play.

At the family level, baseball can also be used as a way to teach healthy food & hydration habits. Being aware of your body and what kinds of foods make you feel better and play better in a baseball game is a great introductory way to understand nutrition as you tackle (a hopefully health conscious) life as an adult.

Hey, it sure beats “if you eat all your food I’ll let you stay up late, or watch more YouTube!

 

Youth Baseball As A Cure: Longer Attention Span Reduced Anxiety

We touched on it earlier but here are the hard numbers regarding anxiety levels among children 6-17:

2003 – 5.4%

*iPhone is Invented*

2007 – 8%

*Tablet is Invented*

Youth Baseball As A Cure For Anxiety2012 – 8.4%

(Source: Center for Disease Control & Prevention)

So how does baseball solve this problem anyway? It doesn’t fully, but it moves kids in the right direction.

If you’ve ever heard the negative connotation “baseball is boring” you may understand where we are going with this.

To be successful in the game of baseball, you have to be “in the moment” (as leading mental conditioning coach Brian Cain states). You have to be present, focused, and attentive to what you are doing every time you play.

Leading attention span experts like George Orwos have stated that when you are forced to practice focusing for long periods of time you will get better at focusing for long periods of time.

In short, being able to stand in the field for 15-minute innings is equivalent from an attention span standpoint to reading for 15 minutes. Pretty cool right!?

When we do something like read a book for 15 minutes or stand in the outfield for 15 minutes, or brain is in something called a “latent state.” If you don’t know about the importance of the latent state for our brains I’d recommend Netflix’s documentary entitled Tech Addict by Buzzfeed.

To sum up the latent state, it’s like giving your brain some time to breathe. Its good for our brain and it helps us to deal with things when our brain gets time to charge. If you want to test it, tell your kid something frustrating after 2 hours of watching YouTube Videos vs. right after an hour and a half baseball practice. I bet he deals with it better after a mostly “rested brain” and more physical activity releasing positive endorphins into his/her bloodstream.

 

In conclusion, is baseball a cure to many of the things attacking today’s youth? We believe so.

 

Blog written by Nick Rotola. Nick holds a Masters in Business Administration and is a Minor League Ballplayer with the Cleburne Railroaders. Nick owns and operates American Baseball Camps, a baseball camps company with baseball camps around the US. 

 

Click the map to see if we have a youth baseball camp near you

 




Nick Rotola

Camp Instructor

Nick is a Professional Baseball Player with the Cleburne Railroaders and American Baseball Camps Coach.

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Building A Strong Team Dynamic

Feb 20, 2020

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.

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

 




American Baseball Camps — Two Quick Tips For Baseball Parents

Apr 13, 2019

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

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