CHECK YOUR EGOS AT THE DOOR! (from Babe Ruth Newsletter)
Written by: Ron Tellefsen, President Babe Ruth Baseball
Monday, November 22, 2004
November 8, 2004
CHECK YOUR EGOS AT THE DOOR!
With so many children playing youth sports, the pressure is on our young athletes to be hard-nosed team players. As parents, it is important that we do not let our egos get in the way of our childs enjoyment of baseball or softball. It is important that we do not try to relive our yesterdays through the lives of our children.
First and foremost, youth baseball and softball are meant to be fun, with tournament competition being secondary. Allowing every child the opportunity to play and providing as equal playing time as possible for younger athletes is the ultimate objective. It is important that at a young age, coaches and parents begin to teach the principles of sportsmanship, effort, teamwork and self discipline. Fun is what will keep your child in the game and eager to learn!
These concepts are no doubt at odds with real life today in youth sports. With the introduction of travel teams, the goal too often becomes focused on winning as an end-all, and for your child to be the stand-out superstar.
Parental fervor seems to begin to heighten when children are 9 to 12 years old. Parents are often sparked by conflicts over playing time and having their child move up to play with the older kids. Having been involved in youth sports for most of my life, I know all too well the pressures put on our children today by their own parents in order to feed the adult ego. It is no longer enough to play for a neighborhood league team. Now kids are made to feel like second-class underachievers unless they are chosen to play for a select team. Too many adults are robbing their kids of the natural condition of kids being kids in order to satisfy their egos. This intense pressure is what contributes to many kids dropping out of baseball or softball after 12 years of age.
Parents must recognize the value and benefits of their childs league coaches experience. Mutual respect and the desire to do what is best for children is the goal of most amateur coaches. Working together must be of paramount importance. Egos must be checked at the door in order for your child to enjoy the great games of baseball and softball, and in order for your child to want to continue to play these sports
Contrary to the beliefs of many parents, early success in sports is not consistently correlated with success in later years. At a young age, the winning percentage should not be based on any measure of wins and losses, but rather on how much fun the children have and how many want to play again the next season.
In my position as President/CEO of Babe Ruth League, Inc., I often receive many letters from parents who desire to have their child play up in the next division because they think their childs skills are above the other players in their age division. They often become frustrated when I respond that it is not in their childs best interest to play in a higher age division.
Moving up to the next level of competition often includes playing with older, stronger and more mature athletes. No matter what success the athlete has enjoyed in the past, the situation of playing up can overtax a young body. Playing up can increase development discrepancies and the risk of injury. Playing up can actually discourage a child from continuing in the game. When he or she is playing at the proper age level, the player may be one of the strongest players on the team. When that same player moves up, however, since the older players are more mature and experienced, he or she very often becomes a substitute on the new teams. They feel they have done something wrong, when really; their skills are superb for their own age group. They just arent advanced enough to be a starter at the older age. Further be advised that damage done by overtraining to get your child in shape to move up to the next level may not become immediately apparent. It may take several months or years before the signs and symptoms catch up with the young athlete.
Playing up brings another subject to mind - playing too much of one sport. The more is better philosophy may work for some, but it has also caused the demise of many young bodies. Repetitive activity strengthens bones and joints, but too much repetitive activity can overstress bones and joints, leading to injury. You must factor all activities into the equation when determining the limits for your young athlete.
I need each of you to be honest with yourself. Does your ego get in the way of your child enjoying baseball or softball? Do you create undue pressure on your childs performance? Do you expect more than they can deliver? Do you give positive encouragement and are there when they need you? Do you help your child accept loss? One of lifes most interesting truisms is that we learn more in failure than in success. It is okay to analyze a loss and how you can do better next time. It is never okay to place blame!
Working together in a league environment, parents and coaches can provide your child the very best playing experience and keep his or her interest keen in the sport. Above all, he or she will have FUN!
Babe Ruth League, Inc.
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