We see the frustration all the time. A fly ball gets hit and our 8 year old outfielder appears to have a bead on it and then all of a sudden, no catch. Of course Mom and Dad are mortified and coaches are frustrated. Their frustration is based on some misguided thoughts about what they just saw. It almost looks like the player stopped trying or lost focus or just lost confidence but there is likely a lot more going on than any of these simple explanations.
When I went back to college with he goal of becoming high school coach and teacher I had to take a lot of different courses. Some seemed to be a great fit and others seemed a little far removed from what may goals really were but I fought my way through them all. While I don’t remember the exact course title one of the most important was the class dealing with the development of gross and fine motor skills in children. What I learned in this class has proven to be very valuable to me and worth sharing with our readers.
All skills develop in children at different ages. There are many things that it just takes time to develop. The brain of a young player just might not be ready to process all the information needed to track and catch that high fly ball. They may not have the visual acuity and brain function to judge the different speeds of different pitches just yet. It’s not that they don’t care or don’t want to or aren’t working hard enough, they just don’t have the tools in the tool box yet to complete the task at hand.
What we all need to understand is that the frustration we feel when our young player doesn’t catch that fly ball is probably very misguided. And that frustration can be a very damaging thing. When a young player gets frustrated because they can’t do the things they want to do or have seen the older kids do, they get very discouraged. When a parent questions their child’s effort or passion or work ethic because of their frustration watching their kid not make a play that the older kids can make creates a very negative environment for the young player.
Before you get frustrated let’s do a little research. Are we upset about something that is just unrealistic for us to expect from a player this age? If a young player doesn’t have the motor skills required to track a ball we are foolish to expect them to catch them all. A little awareness will go a long way to help us all have a little more fun at the ballpark.
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?