It's Not You, It's Them

This weekend, thousands upon thousands of Little League kick off their 2010 season.  Of all the negative things that I can go on and on about the League, what it offers to the kids that play can be life-lasting.  I emphasis “can”.

I have seen to many young players push the game away because of the pressure put on them at such an early age.  From the time they step on the field for t-ball all the way up to the “majors”  the focus seems to be more on winning than teaching a great game and having fun.  Who’s fault is that?  I blame the parents and coaches. 

As high school coaches we have such an enormous responsibility.  We are simply fine-tuning and putting the finishing touches on these kids.  Little League coaches have five times what we face, they are lucky enough to mold these kids from nothing to a player.  They have a chance to be such unreal role models to kids at such a young age.  The lessons that they teach these kids will last forever.  When the focus is on winning over growth everyone loses.  Wins and losses don’t matter at that age.  Making sure your kids continue to improve their skill and knowledge of this great game is so much more vital.  Making sure that the kids have a blast playing such a wonderful game is the next important step.  Winning and losing should never be the focus.  Sometimes you can learn so much from a loss, like how to win. 

Remember, this game is for the kids, not the coaches.  Who cares what your win/loss record is.  I care more about the types of kids you developed.  I care more about the lessons that you taught them.  I care more about the people they will become than what they are now.  Coaches, leave your ego’s at the door.  Don’t play favorites.  Move kids around.  Let them enjoy the game.  If a win comes from that, great but it shouldn’t be the end goal.

These are 12 and 13-year-old kids.  Focus on the fundamentals of the game and of life.  Let the high school and college coaches worry about winning and losing.  If you hand kids off to us that are fundamentally solid players and humans then you have given us winners. 

You have such a great opportunity to mold these kids.  Bask in this.  There is no bigger privilege you have than coaching on this level.  Embrace it. 

Lets Play Ball.

This is just me who feels this way, check out what Curt Schilling wrote for Monday’s USA Today.

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3 Responses to “It's Not You, It's Them”

  1. Pete Olsen Says:

    You are currently coaching 8 players that I have coached at one point in little leauge. Its great to see that they all stuck with it. I am guilty of wanting to win at that level but it was for all the right reasons. I enjoyed the time I spent with all the boys and I believe they enjoyed it as well. Obviously you cant keep everyone happy, espeically the parents of the boys. Its easier at the high school level, at the little leauge level they are in your face all the time but that comes with the territory. I had a parent call me at home when I was coaching at the minor leauge level (6-10 year olds) telling me his kid should be hitting in the lead off spot, lol!!! The other coaches were all good during my tenure, there was a friendly rivalry that never crossed to far over the line. I wrote allot, sorry for blogging on your blog!!

  2. Its not just the coaches that want to win. The kids want to win as well. I coach in Israel, where we essentially have two leagues. One is in the center of the coutnry (Shfela), and the other is along the coast (Sharon).

    The Shfela division is thriving. The number of kids and teams participating increases each year, and the kids really enjoy the game. The level of competition is high (even when the skill level is not that as high as we would like), and that is brought on by both the kids, and the fact that we have playoffs. Coaches play to win, although most do balance that in some manner by playing all kids, getting them involved in different positions, and trying to stimulate their growth in the game.

    The Sharon, on other hand, is seeing a decline in kids playing, fewer teams, and a very low level of competition.

    The biggest difference, which stems from the regional director, through the coaches and all the way down to the kids, is the Shfela league is more competitive, and the kids and coaches want to win.

    From where I stand, I have a hard time seeing that playing to win and increased competition is problematic.

    • Playing to win and increased competition is not the issue, it’s when winning becomes the only thing. Like Herm Edwards famously said “You play to win the game,” but when you don’t play certain kids or shift the focus to just winning ove rteaching is where the problem lies. There are ways to do both and that is when the real winners are the kids.

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