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Lessons Learned from Little League Baseball

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Lessons Learned from Little League Baseball. It is baseball season.  I don’t know about you but baseball is a huge part of our family life.  From watching games to little league.  This year I decided to coach my son’s little league team.  I have always been involved, but always on an assistant level.  This year I am in the drivers seat and boy has it been different than I expected.  Angry parents, yelling coaches, intense fans, fragile little egos, all under the banner of fun.

While the experience has been overall a positive one, there are some aspects that are a bit disappointing.  First, since when did little league become about building a championship team and winning over player development.  For all you little league (or any other sport) parents and coaches, isn’t the point of youth team sports to teach team work, hard work, and the values of fair play?  It has been hard at times to not get caught up in going for the win.  As I have stepped back from the moment, I realize, this is about building all the boys not just the best players.  


I drive one of my assistant coaches crazy because I put some of our less skilled boys in more important roles to give them experience.  Winning is great, believe me when I say I love to win and want so badly for my boys to pick up a win this season, but that is not the point of what we are teaching on these fields.  At least, not the main point.  I look at pro baseball, it is all about winning. So, shouldn’t we be about winning?  I mean I want my kid to be on a winning team and get noticed? Right!?  I look at the minor leagues of baseball, have you ever seen a sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt, anything that is done to get the win at the detriment to the stats of the individual player?  Almost never.  Why? Because the leagues sole purpose is the development of the individuals talent, not the teams record.  Youth sports should be exactly the same.
Second, permit me for a moment to sound hypocritical.  Another problem with youth sports is often we are afraid to have winners and losers.  I know, I just ranted that it is not about winning, and while it is not, it is.  The main goal of a team unit, the coaches, is to develop his players.  If you do a good job, winning happens.  I am sure someone will point out some study how losing at little league scars children for life.  But maybe it wasn’t the fact of losing, but maybe a lack of perspective taught them about losing.  After all, as coaches, it is our responsibility to help these young people understand that their lives will be full of successes and failures, and that when we fail, we dust ourselves off, evaluate and go at it again.
We are 0-5.  After every loss is an opportunity to teach, to inspire and encourage to dig deeper, fight harder, give more than they thought they could.  My boys are learning to persevere.  I want into sting, to hurt, to fuel the fire.  Losing with the right perspective in my opinion teaches more than having a perfect season.  But for that to work, there needs to be winners and losers, not everyone gets a trophy!  Likewise my daughter just had a dance competition where all teams took first!?  We diminish the value of achievement if we don’t allow our children to both succeed and fail.  We are building an apathetic generation with no aspiration, no ability to cope with failure, with out the drive to be great.  


So play ball! And may the best team win.  And may the losers find motivation and passion to strive for more. 

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