Then they introduced coaches into the mix. Not long after the coaches got involved, the players lost interest and wanted to quit the game. The study didn't quantify the coaches' activities, but it is obvious that their approach did not fit with the players' idea of a fun game.
This doesn't mean that any coaching interaction takes the fun out of the game of baseball! Obviously coaches are needed to help teams organize, strategize, and to effectively work together as a team.
A good coach will help athletes develop their potential and become better players. A coach's goals for his team should be focused on the development of his athletes as players, and people. It's only when a coach's interest in winning supercedes both the physical and mental well being of his team, that there is a problem.
Eyes on the Prize
Most of all, coaching athletes, especially young athletes, means being patient, supportive, and understanding of the different levels of ability. Young athletes are there to compete and have fun. They are not there to win a pennant, or lead the league in RBI's, or have the lowest ERA. Don't get me wrong. Those things would be wonderful for any young athlete, but it is not their primary focus. And of course, as they get older these
achievements become more and more important. But coaches who think that young athletes are there to win and only win, are sadly mistaken, and should reassess their own interest in being a coach.
The Role of Parents
Parents of athletes play an even more vital role in the support of young athletes. Before the game and after the game, it is the parent that is the key support system. As parents, we all want our children to be winners. It's a natural thing. We want to see our children succeed. We want them to feel the thrill of victory, not the agony of defeat. Many times losing a game is a greater learning experience than winning.
But whether they win or lose, we need to be there for them to help them through bad days, good days, hitting streaks and slumps, and to ensure that they continue to love and play the game if that's what they want to do.
Many times parents can be seen projecting their own wishes and desires onto their children athletes. I have been at more than a few games where the parents are seriously hasseling the umpires, or heckling the players.
What kind of example does this set for the young athletes? And at times I have witnessed a parent scolding his child for making a bad play or an error!
It's in situations like these that the pressure on young athletes starts outweighing the fun of playing. They want nothing more than to please their parents and their coaches. But we all make mistakes. And when those mistakes are made, parents and coaches have a responsibility to let their young athletes know that doing your best is all that matters.
Win or lose, the best thing you can do as a coach or as a parent, is support these athletes as they develop so that they improve, and most importantly, so that they love the game of baseball even more. It's not whether they win or lose, it's that they are doing something they love.