When we go to the ball field, we all have a role to fill. Players play, coaches coach, parents cheer and umpires officiate the games. For some reason, these lines get very blurry, very often. To the point where many of us become something that we don’t understand, don’t like and can’t defend. We all know it happens but let’s talk about how we can make some changes.
1. Remember your role. It seems like a simple suggestion that’s very difficult to adhere to. Think long and hard before you enter the park and remind yourself that you do have a job to do today and it’s up to you to do it to the best of your abilities. If you remind yourself often enough, you might start to believe it, and follow it!
2. We all know the roles that exist for each of us when we leave the house in the morning. If you really think that you are capable of doing one of the other roles, then make the move to fulfill that role. If you think you can umpire better than the umpires, trust me they are looking for more umpires. If you think you are a better coach than the person coaching then go ahead and become a coach. If we’re not willing to take on these roles, then we better trust the people who are doing these jobs to do them.
3. Stop creating entitled children. Parents and coaches both have to take a look at this one. We live in a society where you get a trophy for finishing dead last and someone buys you ice cream even though you didn’t even try your hardest. This happens from a place of best intentions, but we are creating a generation of kids that would much rather run away from a challenge than take one on.
4. Stop making everything someone else’s fault. This is an easy trap to fall into. When we blame the coach, blame the umpire, blame a teammate we are deflecting responsibility from ourselves or our children and placing the blame somewhere else. Again, this usually comes from a good place. We don’t want our kids to feel like they are at fault, so we look for someone else to blame.
5. Teach kids to be coachable. All kids must learn to be a part of a team, to accept criticism, to be instructed, to be held accountable and to sacrifice for the good of others. We instill these attributes in the home and on the field. The harder we work to help our kids be coachable, the better off we will all be.
6. Encourage kids to play multiple sports. When we invest all our time and effort into one sport, we increase the pressure on them, on their parents and their coaches. When we start to look at one sport as the end all and be all for a player and her family, we greatly increase the likelihood that problems will be exaggerated in their importance and impact. By spreading the wealth across several sports, we offer a much better balance for all involved.
7. Don’t focus on the bottom line. When we attach financial gain in a scholarship or the amount of investment and financial sacrifice into the equation we greatly increase the pressure on all involved. We start to see one blown call or one coaching decision as being something that “costs” us. When we confuse the investment and the outcome in sports we are creating a huge trap that many people fall into.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Knowing how all these things impact the way we think and act at the ball field will go along way in helping you become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Wouldn’t we all be happier with less problems at the ballpark?