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I need help in dealing with parent anxiety! I feel literally nauseous when my son plays baseball. I try very hard not to embarrass him so I remain calm and supportive outwardly but inside I can't take it!
He is on a very competitive travel team and there is a huge emphasis on winning because the club has a "Rep" to uphold.
My son is a good player probably better than most but certainly not elite and he is only 10!
What are your thoughts? He wants a future in this sport and I want to help him the best I can if that's what he wants. I just don't want to have a nervous breakdown in the process! Thanks!
Jamie, Let us see if we can get this situation under control. This is no way to live to beat yourself up over your child’s’ performance. This is a time that should bring mostly enjoyment to kids and their families in youth baseball.
FOCUS ON OTHER STUFF BESIDES PERFORMANCE
First, try not to put all your emphasis on performance. Focus on the effort put forth, the good things that happen and by all means do not praise only when good things happen.
Baseball looks very easy to play from the bleachers. Believe me it is not easy. The beauty of baseball is its difficulty level.
You have to realize that there will be much adversity, bad plays, boo-boos, strikeouts and pop ups along the way. The fact that the game brings so much failure makes the game a great humbling life lessons building experience.
That is why you don’t need to put all the focus on performance because you are going to be disappointed. The game of baseball is just too difficult to play perfect and flawlessly.
AVOID THE WIN-AT-ALL-COSTS APPROACH
Second: When looking at the coaching approach and coaching philosophy you want to see what the views are on winning. Is it a win-at-all-costs approach?
Or do they want to develop ballplayers for the long haul with winning as a little less of a priority. I would avoid the win-at-all-costs baseball teams and coaches especially at 10 years old.
Unfortunely the adults bring an ownership to winning the games by wanting to win like a major league baseball team. This is very shortsighted and not conducive to a healthy your baseball experience for the baseball kids and the baseball families.
Having a huge emphasis on winning at 10 years old is counterproductive to developing baseball players. There is just no reason for except for the parents egos.
REC BALL VS. TRAVEL BALL
Third: Players 12 years old and under can get plenty of baseball playing in the local recreation leagues. There is no sense running around the state spending entire weekends and spending senseless money on travel teams.
If your kid reaches 13 or 14 and has a burning desire for the game and is athletic enough to survive these years then you might look at some travel opportunities if the local leagues are limited.
Believe me, contrary to baseball parents belief there are no college and professional scouts at 10 and 12 year old travel tournaments.
Travel ball is overkill and mostly driven by the adults again who talk themselves into having to stay up with the Jones. If you do play travel ball you better find out what the coaching approach is about the topic of winning and playing time (practice time too). Most travel teams do very little practice, too.
BUILD A LOVE FOR THE GAME
Fourth: I don’t know where you live but plan to take a trip to Cooperstown with your kid. Spend plenty of time there especially at the exhibits from the older days of baseball and Jackie Robinson’s era.
Walk down the streets to all the little memorabilia shops and food outlets. Go by the old Doubleday Field ballpark. Take your kid on a trip to a major league game and some minor league games.
Build a love for the game and realize your kid really just wants to hang out with you. It doesn’t always have to be in the environment of a win-at-all-cost baseball tournament.
MOST PLAYERS DROP OUT BY AGE 14
Remember: Let the kids play all the sports. Specializing is unnecessary.
Remember that the stats tell us that 75% of youth sports kids drop out by age 14. Not many players will ever reach the high school baseball level much less college or professional baseball.
You have to be pretty athletic to make it through the gauntlet of age 13 and 14 where the field gets bigger. Players cannot run fast enough, throw hard enough or hit it far enough to play the game effectively at this age level.
Most kids quickly throw in the towel and try other things. Rarely does a kid come out the other side of age 14 still standing with a baseball uniform. The ones who survive are the better athletes mainly.
So, don’t fret over the game. We know it is hard. We know it will be extremely tough to survive past age 14.
Build a love for the game with your children—and find ways to spend time with your kids away from the baseball field. That’s why they built bowling alleys.
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