I’ve spent the last several years coaching my 11 year old son’s summer travel team. They, along with their parents, have heard me say numerous times that anything that happens to them on a baseball field is a good thing. Obviously, I’m not referring to a major injury of some kind although some people may even include such injuries in that statement
“Time on the field” is another comment I will often make to parents who ask what is best for their young player. Time on the field refers to the idea that players just need to experience more of the game in order for them to learn more. That time can occur during rep work in practice and/or innings played in games. The more reps and experiences players get the better because each experience presents an opportunity to learn more about the game and what areas they need work on.
Here are a few examples:
- Screwing up a double-play because you rushed is a learning opportunity about taking your time to be sure of at least one out.
- Getting a quick yank after walking the bases loaded in the first inning might anger a player but it is also an opportunity to look for a better way to prepare to pitch at the start of a game.
- Sitting on the bench can be an opportunity to realize that no position on the field or within a line-up is guaranteed to anyone. The player can learn that playing time is earned on a daily basis.
There are a million other examples I could give but the point is clear. Good or bad, every event on a field creates an opportunity for the player to learn more about themselves and the game. As many adults can attest to, personal growth and learning are often byproducts of some of our worst moments in life.
Coaching youth baseball has shown me that it is very often the adults that have more of a problem with their young player’s adversity then the player himself. It’s important for those parents to realize that blaming something or someone else for the adversity their child faces eliminates or at least decreases the opportunity to learn and grow as a person and as a player.
To develop young baseball players, more time on the field and letting them fully experience the good and bad that baseball has to offer is key. Cut back on one or both and you may be doing more harm than good.
Good or bad, everything that happens on a field is a good thing … if it’s handled well.
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