Easy Like Saturday Morning

On a Saturday morning, everyone at the field is excited to be a part of the team’s doubleheader, even if it takes a few innings for you to wake up. The coaches, parents, and players are all ready for five hours of straight baseball.  Parents have the coolers packed and chairs out, the coaches have coffee in hand and lineup cards written out, and the kids have their eye black on, pants rolled up, and they take the field. There is nothing better than just watching the kids, no matter how old, just go out and play the game they love.
The key word there is PLAY, remember that word. Yes, everyone would like to win and one can certainly argue baseball is more fun when you win, but the reality is that the competitiveness and emotions of the outcome should not go past the field. Once you get in your car, or once you get home at the latest, the W or the L in the standings should be the least of your concern by then. Anyways, not the point of this story. 
This image can be ruined rather quickly by one or a few in attendance.  How is it ruined? “Just throw strikes!” “You have to visualize!” “Get your elbow up, we just worked on this!” I can go on and on. These statements are made by both coaches and parents, and it usually goes on all day long. The intent is always in the best interest of the kid, I get that completely. I am not arguing that in the slightest. But these kids are out there and they want to just play, so let them PLAY.
It doesn’t matter what happened in between the lines, the kids are kids and they want to have fun, so let them! The competitiveness and intensity is a key part of baseball and what makes it so great, but our kids have become more and more frightened that they are going to make mistakes, which just leads to more mistakes followed by a loss of interest in playing the game next week or wanting to play again next season. 

I challenge you as the parent or as the coach to allow and almost encourage mistakes. Mistakes give us coaches something to talk about after the game down the left field line. They give us a focus point in practice the following Tuesday. It helps each and every player LEARN and grow as a player and as a young man, whether they were a direct cause of the mistake or not. It helps them understand how and why this is a team game. These mistakes can be both physical or mental.

It does not matter if the team is eight years old or fourteen years old, let these kids have fun, enjoy their experiences, maybe even watch them figure it out for themselves and adjust right in front of your eyes without you saying a word, and then break everything down after the last out with them.  We all want to be a part of what really is a special Saturday week in and week out, so let’s all play our part and enjoy the piece that makes the day so special, our kids with smiles on their faces competing, learning, and working together as a team.