Parenting Tips for Not Burning Out Your Baseball Player
The baseball experience can be some of the best years of a child’s life. Meeting new people, making new friends and participating in the great game of baseball are all positive things that a child can take from their baseball experience. However, participating in organized baseball can also bring some pressure with it which is normal for any competitive sport. Added pressure is something that can and should be avoided. Especially when that added pressure is coming from the child’s parents. Let’s take a look at some Baseball Parenting Tips for Not Burning Out Your Baseball Player that will help keep the baseball experience enjoyable for the entire family!
#1 Don’t Coach from the Bleachers
Especially baseball knowledgeable parents will be tempted to do some coaching from the bleachers. However, depending on the presentation and frequency of coaching from the bleachers, this could cause more harm then good. Consistently yelling and screaming instructions at every game could become a little much for even the most patient and enthusiastic child. Allowing the child some breathing room during games with occasional low key instruction could be a better approach. Waiting to discuss a game later in the day or even a few days later may even be a better approach. Also, it’s not a bad idea to allow some time to pass which would allow the child the opportunity to initiate discussing the game when they are ready.
#2 Extra Practice is Just That
All parents want their child to succeed and be the best that they can be. In youth baseball, that could mean a parent making time for their child to practice on their own at home, at the park, the batting cages or even through private instruction. It is a baseball coach’s dream to have dedicated players like this on the team. However, the extra practice time shouldn’t become a job for the child that requires them to “punch in the time clock.”. For example, if a parent practices fielding with their child every day after school in the back yard then it shouldn’t be a big deal if the child wants to take a day off to play video games with their friends.
#3 Too Many Teams?
Game experience is great for a young player but how much is too much? This is really for a parent and child to decide but the following are some factors to consider. Do the teams’ schedules over lap in any way? Scheduling conflicts can become very messy. What team will get the brush off? It is best to try and avoid these situations or at the very least attempt to minimize. A coach will understand some conflict but not constant conflict in the schedule. Occasional conflict can occur on the back end of a school team season and the beginning of a baseball season. However, attempting to play for a rec team and a travel league team that run at the same time might not be the best idea. Also consider that too much game experience can burn out a player both physically and mentally. For example, a young pitcher who is pitching for multiple teams can be looking at an arm injury due to over use. This can be especially dangerous if the coaches involved are not made aware of the player’s participation on multiple teams.
#4 Too Many Sports
With the increase in travel teams and travel sports, young athletes sometimes find themselves over committed. Sometimes this is more their parents decision than their own. While your player may be the next great two sport athlete, it is important to specify which times of year you will pursue which sports. If you do choose to pursue sports that overlap seasons, make sure you find teams that except this. I always have a couple spots on my roster I have no problem filling with multiple sport athletes. I know as a coach it will then become my responsibility to make sure I know when players are available for games and to have a backup plan if I need a substitute player.
#5 Pressure To Win
It is ok for a parent to encourage completive “fire” or passion in their child. Our society is based on healthy competition for jobs, scholarships, promotions etc. However, over emphasizing winning can be a problem. “Your team has to win tonight.” is a statement that will fuel unneeded pressure. “I think your team will win tonight and have a great game!.” is a statement that shows the same amount of passion and support without the added pressure.
#6 Pressure To Perform
Every parent wants their child to perform well during games. However, especially offensively, baseball is actually a game that involves a lot of failure. The best pro hitters actually only have batting averages in the mid .300’s and if that. Baseball can be a very humbling sport at times. With that said, statements like “You have to get three hits tonight.” or “You can’t give up any runs out there on the mound tonight.” are just unrealistic and put unneeded pressure to perform on the child. When talking to a child about performance, it is important to be supportive without putting unfair expectations on them. Leave the numbers out and stick to something like “Have a great game and go get’em!”
#7 Unhealthy Competition with Teammates
Sometimes rivalries will naturally happen between two players on the same team. This is not a bad thing if the rivalry is friendly, healthy and pushes both players to be their very best. However, sometimes rivalries are created unnaturally and unfortunately in a negative way. Rivalries that are unnatural, unhealthy and become obsessive should never happen. If such a rivalry does come to be then it cannot be allowed to continue.
#8 Unfair Comparisons to Family Members
It can be very difficult for a young baseball player to be related to a family member who has been a success in the sport of baseball at any level. There will already be a preconceived notion about the player’s ability and/or potential based on the successful family member. The key in this situation is for the parents to not add fuel to the fire by feeding into the comparisons. The best thing to remember when dealing with this type of situation is that the child is trying to reach their full potential and not a standard set by another family member.
It is great to be passionate about something but we must all remember that not all people share the same passion. For example a parent may love the sport of baseball while their child might only like it but not love it. It might be hard for a parent to come to the realization that their child does not share the same passion. Although hard, it is important that the parent respects that difference and does not try to force their passion for baseball on their child.
#10 Positive Spin
Staying positive especially through adversity or negativity will really help a baseball player get through the ups and downs of a baseball season. It’s a lot more difficult for a player to remain positive or even want to show up at the field if all they hear at home are statements like “Your team is awful.”, “Your coach doesn’t know what he’s doing.” or “The umpires are a bunch of cheaters.” It is ok for parents to have concerns but most of the time it is for the best if the child is spared the details. The child should be allowed to have fun without being put in the middle of adult issues.
#11 Be Supportive
Parents should try to be supportive, positive and enthusiastic about their child’s participation in baseball. It’s a busy world but parents should try to attend as many games and practices as possible to show support. Volunteering at a league function or fund raiser can also be fun, rewarding and shows support. A parent who is more visible will have a child that will have a much greater baseball experience.
All children are different as well as the family dynamics. With that said, these tips are general and should be customized to fit specific families. What is really important is to recognize the need to minimize or eliminate added pressures that sometimes result from participating in a youth sport like baseball. Allowing the fun factor to shine the brightest will improve the Little League experience by leaps and bounds!
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