Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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The Dilemma of the Multi-Sport Athlete…

If your child is nearing high school age, and is a multi-sport athlete, chances are you’ve had conversations about them specializing or choosing one sport over another. You’ve probably had these conversations with each other, with your child and with coaches. With so much emphasis on winning, the pressure for coaches to have high performing teams is insurmountable. Some high school coaches are putting pressure on players to dedicate time to only their sport, instead of spreading time between other sports. When faced with this situation, there’s a few things to consider.
First, consider the source. Are you having these conversations with coaches? Let’s remember many coaches motivation is self-serving (remember myself and husband coach and it’s not every coach). Most coaches are not looking out for your child, they are looking out for their team or even themselves. Take what the coach says with a grain of salt and know there’s another coach waiting in the wings to discuss their intentions for your child, and most likely it’s the opposite of what you just heard.
Another source to consider is friends of your child. I bet you’re discussing this with them as well. While other parents are great sounding boards, friends of your child’s or teammates are probably not the best ones to discuss this decision. Again, part of their intention is self-serving. They want the best for their child first. While I know they care about your kid, that comes second to their flesh and blood. Any decision you make could have an impact on their child and therefore they may not be helping.
Now, I’m not saying to cease conversations with coaches and friends of the family, but I am telling you to take their opinions at face value. I don’t preach advice often, but take my advice here, listen and discuss with these people, but in the end don’t do what they want.
And lastly, the absolute most important thing to consider, is your child. Your child’s emotional well-being, your child’s development. How will this decision affect them, in the short-term and long-term? Have very real and truthful conversations with your kid. To many people this decision seems inconsequential. And maybe in the big-picture of life it is. But, for the next four years of your child’s life this decision is immense!
To your child, the weight of this decision could mean the difference of a college choice, could mean the difference of being a collegiate athlete, could mean the difference of giving up activities they’ve done from the time they were a tiny tot. This decision could change their identity or who they think they are or are going to be. This decision can change the course of how they thought things in high school were going to play out. So, yes, to an outsider looking in, it appears this decision is small in scale. But, to your child, it is EVERYTHING right now.
When faced with the decision to commit to one sport or to continue being a multi-sport athlete take all things into consideration. Think about the focus and time and money that will be poured into one sport or multiple, if that’s the decision. Think about how to balance it all, or just how to balance the one and school. Think about what the next four years looks like and the end goal. But, most of all, think about how this decision will impact the one you love the most, the athlete, your child.


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Creating a Culture

Dear Coach,

I love [insert your sport here]. I work hard and I try my best. At every practice I do everything I can to show you I deserve to be here. I work to impress you and my family. My parents believe in me. I believe in me.
I seem to have all I need, right? Well, I’m missing one thing. I’m missing your unconditional support. I know that you’re there to push me. I know that you believe in my abilities. What I don’t get from you is support “no matter what.”
If I’m hurt or not feeling my best, I’m afraid to tell you. I’m afraid of how you’ll treat me or how you’ll look at me like your disappointed. I’m sacrificing my body and my ability so I don’t have to confront you.
Sincerely,
Your player
————–
Does this situation sound familiar to you? Do you know an athlete whom struggles with an injury or a poor performance or two and wants nothing to do with talking to the coach? Unfortunately, this is all too familiar in our uber-competitive society. It’s the “whatever it takes to win” attitude. Take it from me, I’m as competitive as the next person, but when the athlete begins to sacrifice their mental and physical being for the game, we have a very serious problem. And fortunately, this problem can be resolved and even avoided. You may not like what I’m about to say, but, it begins with you, the Coach.
Yep, I said it. You can be the winningest coach, the smartest coach, the most motivating coach, but you also can be a culture crushing coach. What do I mean by that? One asset that many coaches do not have is learning and understanding their players. We expect this of our children’s teachers on a daily basis. We want the teachers to understand our children and tailor their lesson plans for each of them. Why do we expect it of teachers, but not of coaches?
As a coach, it is your responsibility to learn your players, to understand what motivates each of them. Players, just like students, are motivated differently. It is part of your duty to learn how to get the best out of each them. As well as, knowing when something isn’t right, like an injury. If you have an acute knowledge of your players, then you should be able to recognize when they are not 100%. Recognizing it is one thing, how you handle it, is another.

A player should never be afraid to tell their coach about an injury. Players are silenced because of the fear of being benched. Having an injury shouldn’t mean punishment. Show your player you care. Show them you are concerned more with their wellbeing than with winning the game. A little compassion at the beginning could save a lot of heartache in the end.


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3 Great Indoor Baseball/Softball Practice Tools

Anywhere Ball:  The anywhere ball is a great indoor/outdoor training tool. It is a soft training ball that provides instant feedback. When hit correctly the Anywhere Ball will fly straight and round, when miss hit, the ball will pop up or down in an egg shape. The ball is safe to hit against a wall, window or even a mirror and is ideal for hitting in a confined space such as a basement. The Anywhere Ball can also be used for pre-game warm-ups, working on blocking with your catchers and for inexperienced players to learn how to catch without fear. My players love it because they can throw batting practice in a small space without an L-Screen. To check out this product, click on the link. https://amzn.to/2INW7u2 (affil.)
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Reaction Ball: This six-sided rubber ball leaps and pops randomly helping your athlete work on their hand eye coordination and reaction time. The Reaction Ball gives athletes a high energy, multi-sport training tool to challenge their reflexes and improve their skills. It is a great tool that can be used with or without a glove and can be used at different speeds and levels of difficulty. It can also be used in a small space at home. The Reaction Ball has had a huge positive impact on my teams ability to field the baseball. To read reviews and learn more, click on the link. https://amzn.to/2Ps9nag (affil.)
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Tanner Tee: The Tanner Tee is the industry leading and best-selling batting tee. It is excellent for all ages and skill levels. The Tee is easily adjustable and is the preferred Tee for travel ball, college and professional players. The hand-rolled flexible rubber ball rest will not do damage to your bat and allows hitters to feel the ball not the tee at contact. Our baseball organization has found these Tees to be highly durable and an asset for our drill work during indoor training sessions. Many players use this tee at home to hit into a net or tarp. To find out more about this well built tee, click on the link. https://amzn.to/2IM3KkP (affil.)
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Check out these great products being used in the video below.


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Why do I Coach, Why do you Coach?

I began the process of writing this blog by asking myself one simple question, why do I coach? Why do I do it? What started my inner drive to help others try and become better people, both on and off the field? What do I possess that makes me the type of person that would want to take on this role? What were the things that I experienced in my life that caused me to want to take on this very important role for others? Is it that I get to dive head first into someone else’s world and try to help them grow? Is it that I get to share in their successes and help them through their failures?

The answer always comes back to the same common theme. I coach because I believe it is important to have good people who want to make a difference in kids lives. This is all I have ever known. As long as I can remember I have known that there was something bigger than just me, I am just a part of this world yet I still have an opportunity to make a big difference. I truly believe that all of these parts come together to help form who a person is and what a person is all about. Knowing that youth athletes are at different points along a continuum, I want to be a part of helping them recognize they are capable of greatness. This was instilled in me by my parents and coaches. They taught me to be there for others and to try and have a positive influence on others. I feel now, more than ever, we need each other. I think we owe it to ourselves, and others, to open up and share what we have learned. Coaching is about motivating kids to try and be better today than they were yesterday.

I have chosen to follow what I believe is important. I have found something in me to share with others that I enjoy. It gives me a purpose and shows others a skill that if I chose not to share it, I would not have a completeness in my life. Being a coach allows me to be bigger than I am. Are you here to contribute something larger then yourself? Is this why you coach?


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Knowing Your Role: The Coach

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

The coach of the team is the leader, the CEO of the organization so to speak. You alone have the ability to make or break a child’s spirit (that’s a lot of power). Parents have entrusted you to teach and guide their children in sport. As parents we feel you are our child’s guardian while in your presence. To be the voice of reason, the disciplinarian, the authority figure and to teach and manage the game.

As a coach your role is to lead your players. This doesn’t mean you need to win every game. This means guide them and teach them the fundamentals of the game and what it means to be on a team. You must support each player (unconditionally). You must recognize each of them has a role and each of them is important to the entire team. Each player should leave a practice or game knowing more than when they came and wanting to come back. If you’re breaking spirits and squashing their love of the game, you’re not doing your job. There’s no need to coddle, and there’s no need to berate. There’s a balance for each individual that will help them develop. Encourage as much as you can.

Set realistic goals for the individuals and the team. Help them reach those goals. Be there when things are good and more importantly when things aren’t. Know your players. Know their strengths and their weaknesses. Know things about them, other than their talent level. Put them in situations where they can succeed and allow them opportunities to grow. Help them build upon their strengths and improve their weaknesses; that way they’re always moving in a positive direction.

Do you have what it takes to positively affect a child’s life?


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A Lesson in Compassion

We started this blog because our family loves sports, and we realized that there are life’s lessons we and our children are constantly learning via this sports life we created. Recently, our family and all the families involved in our baseball organization learned a valuable life lesson: Compassion for others.

Our baseball organization took a que from our local youth football organization and decided to do a Special Olympic-type baseball game, the HBA Challenger Baseball Game. The premise was to organize a baseball game with our 14U teams and Special Olympians from our community and have a wonderful time. It took months to plan and organize; the result: a phenomenal day for all involved. Here’s how the day went.

Each age group 8U through 13U were given players to cheer for. The team’s showed up 45 minutes before the main event to create posters and meet their players. This meet and greet was held in the “clubhouse” also known as our indoor hitting facility. The clubhouse was decked out with uniforms and gifts for each Challenger. After the meet and greet and posters were made, the kids headed to the bleachers to cheer on their player. It was amazing to see all our boys in their blue away jerseys and members of the community filling the stands. The stadium was packed!

After the National Anthem one of our 14U teams took the field, and the other team stayed as sponsors for each Challenger player. Our awesome MC for the day introduced and even interviewed each Challenger. As each player was announced our teams in the stands cheered their little hearts out! Each team really got in the spirit of cheering for their designated player. It was truly wonderful to see the joy that those cheers brought to the Challengers faces.

The game lasted a little over an hour and afterward a picture with all the baseball players was taken by the scoreboard. As each Challenger left the ballpark they were congratulated by the crowd. The pure joy they exuded was infectious for all in attendance.

Our family enjoys playing sports, we always have and always will. But, there is so much more than just being able to play. It’s like I said in my last post, “We need to teach our children that their actions (good or bad) have an affect on others. Not only for the sake of sports, but for humanity.” I’m so proud of all our boys. The compassion and enthusiasm they showed that day was a lesson for all of us!


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The Coach Who Doesn’t Coach

It’s a difficult balance of being a parent to an athlete and being a coach to an athlete. The struggle is real as they say. Have you ever been in a situation where your child plays for a coach that doesn’t know anything about the sport they are coaching? Logic says “this person is nice and the kids are having fun.” That’s the part that has seen mean coaches. The parent|coach part says “the child is learning nothing, they aren’t getting better.”

So, if you’re faced with this, what are the options? Well, the child can play for a different team, a different organization all together. This situation is scary, we don’t know what we’ll get some where else. You know the saying “the grass isn’t always greener” comes to mind. The parent could step in and try to help the coach with their knowledge (totally depends on personality how this would be taken). The parent could ask to coach the team themselves the next season. For many, this isn’t an option because of other children and other commitments. The final option is to continue what you’re doing. Continue playing at this level and try to coach and get lessons in from other resources when you can.

The goal for any organization is to develop players, but the goal for us parents is to develop OUR player. If you don’t want to make a change, then you need to take matters into your hands. We always tell our kids that they are only one part of the team (1/5th of the basketball team or 1/9th of the baseball team). The only actions you can control are yours. While the development of the team as a whole is very important, we need to look out for the development our own child.

So, if you’re ever faced with this situation, my suggestion would be to focus on the development of your child. Whether it’s making a change with the team or just focusing your efforts on player development, you need to do what’s best for them.