I hope everyone enjoyed their first weekend of the Fall without baseball (and other fall sports)! I know I sure did, as my wife and I both reveled in how much extra time we had. But, I did miss it a bit… one of the things I find most fulfilling about coaching youth sports is that you really do become attached to the kids, rooting for them as if they are your own, seeing them improve and get better and taking a sense of pride in that you had a small part in that.
I like to do an end of season recap for all of my teams to give myself a sense of closure and think through my own areas of improvement. For this fall, I set out with the following goals as mentioned in my welcome email:
- First and foremost, HAVE FUN – I think the kids had a good time. Obviously winning makes things much more fun, but they seemed to enjoy both the games and practices.
- Focus on the process, not the results – All practices were geared around repetitions, which I hoped the kids would take forward to the games. It was slow, but we did see some improvement.
- Everyone plays every position, and everyone bats in every batting order position – I really tried my best at this. With 13 kids and only 8 games, the batting order lagged a bit, but I tried to have kids bat an equal amount of times in the top third / middle third / bottom third. As for positions, I tried to rotate everyone with the exception of Pitcher and 1st Base, but worked the kids in as I felt safe.
- Put the kids in the position to succeed, but be ok with letting them fail – we failed a lot this year. Great job!
- Incorporate teachings and vernacular from Coach Weigel’s varsity baseball program – practices were geared with this in mind, and the recaps will allow you to reinforce at home.
- Build teamwork, leadership – The kids really got along well and really pulled for each other as the season wore on. There was a bit too much goofing off behind the benches, but they’re 8 and 9!
- Build community – I think the kids really took to each other, the parents started to talk more as the season went on, which makes everything more fun! Hopefully you’ll remember some of the people on the team and say hi at future sporting events or trips to Scoop Shop.
I think we addressed these goals pretty well!
Even though our record wasn’t stellar, every single one of the kids improved, whether it was their comfort at the plate, their ability in the field, or their situational awareness. We had two kids who had never played baseball before, who were taking regular at bats and playing regularly in the field. We had multiple kids who had never pitched before take the mound. The kids gained in their confidence too. In all, I think this short season was a resounding success!
A lot of parents asked me last spring, “What can my child do to get better?” Sure, you could pay a lot of money to have private teachers, but I gave two very cheap and very effective suggestions, which I will reiterate here:
- Have the kids play, anything really. Have a catch in the backyard as you talk about your days. Get them a pitchback so they can throw by themselves. Enroll them in soccer to get them running. Keep them active, keep them moving, find different ways to work on fundamental skills in a way that they enjoy.
- Watch a baseball game on TV with them. Watching the game with them helps create a love of the game, a bond between parent and child, and enhances their fundamental knowledge of the game and how to react in game situations. I spent a lot of time coaching the kids over “which base do we throw to,” “what happens when the ball gets hit to the outfield,” “what are the steps the pitcher should do”; and these things all become innate the more they are immersed in the game. If the broadcast shows the “All 9” view, pause the game and show them how each fielder reacts depending on the baserunners and where the ball is hit. But most importantly, use that as time to bond with them.
The boys didn’t get trophies for the Fall season, which I’m ok with. But I do believe in finding a way to recognize their efforts and achievements. I’ll be sending each of them a baseball card in the mail with their own personalized statistics on it… (that’s the whole reason I was keeping score, by the way; not to actually track the score but to give the kids a memento and memory personalized to them). Please look for that in the mail in the coming weeks.
It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and your child, and I hope to cross paths with them again in the future.