When a Re-Direction Finds a Man Re-Connecting with a Game He Loves, Resulting in a Key Hit.

13

James loved to follow the Toronto Blue Jays.   A significant part of his acclimatization to Toronto involved immersing himself in every aspect of the Blue Jays organization. He faithfully watched games when they were televised and listened to every game on the radio. James described himself as a traditionalist of the game. He was dedicated, passionate, and derived happiness at experiencing the ups and downs of each baseball season.

Fast forward, James endured years of frustration at not knowing who he was and his direction. He was lost and profoundly stuck. As a result, he continued to depend on the financial support of his parents. While feeling guilty about taking the handouts, he accepted, as this was easier than finding the courage to take healthy risks.

Finally, after many years of stagnation, excuse making, and denial, James decided to return to his love of the game of baseball. This materialized, when he realized that he enjoyed creative writing, in particular, connecting it with baseball.   He understood that the very ups and downs he lived through with his beloved Blue Jays had come to reflect his own ups and downs. James saw that this mirrored life and that the only way to move beyond such trials and tribulations were to develop a plan, a set of skills in order to get through the rough patches.

With this revelation, James converted his hobby-like interest in writing baseball articles into investigating writing courses and programs at different colleges. His previous dormant approach lead to a personal motivation towards furthering himself and the openness to gather information and see the possibilities that lay ahead.

This newfound determination happened, in part, as a result of James’ parents removing financial support, and replacing it with emotional support.   This resulted in more confidence and more hits. James realized that the hits would only come when his effort was consistent. A dramatic shift in focus kept the hits flowing.

When Thinking About Hitting a Single Represents Too Much Work and Has No Value or Interest.

4
For many teenagers it is about the “like.” If the “like” is present, the marks will follow. If the like is not evident, the effort is not evident. In fact, excuses are often given. For example, a mark of a 50% or lower, sits in print on the report card, as a testament of the indifference.

Mark, 18 years old, has a penchant for writing and the arts. He also seeks to find short cuts in his learning to the point of justifying his decisions to suit his circumstances. However, Mark’s approach, like many, is rooted in the instantaneous world of the “NOW.”

Although Mark is gifted in the area of dramatic arts, he is also gifted in “weaving tales” and of taking minimal responsibility for his learning. For example, Mark complained of being tired all the time.   His mother suggested a B12 supplement, as her other children were taking it for sleep issues.   When probed, Mark admitted to staying up until 12:30/1 a.m. (up at 6:30). He disclosed having his phone nearby and “on” all night; Mark felt that it was important for him to be available to his friends at a moment’s notice. Mark’s school demands included a double curriculum as well as being involved in all areas of drama productions.

In regards to dropping science with a mark in the 60s, Mark explained that he wanted to only pursue his passion and that it was his passion that would allow him to be an intellectual and associate with those with a similar mindset.   Mark continued to say that he could have done better in science, had he hired a tutor and applied himself. However, Mark felt that there was no need to learn what everyone was learning as it offered no guarantee of getting him anywhere in the future. Additionally, Mark wanted his learning to be driven by him.   He did not like the idea of having to learn because it was being imposed. While Mark did not drop science altogether, he did drop down to the applied level in order to avoid the workload and having to push himself.

Although Mark was athletic and good at baseball, he refused to devote the time and effort to improve his game. Practicing was not part of his vocabulary. His coaches all had shared the same sentiment:   good athlete, but no motivation.

Each and every parent knows the game of manipulation. What is painfully clear is the need for parents to know their children and their habits and guide them in realizing their full capacity. It is simply not good enough to hand over full control to our children and hope they will make the correct decisions for their future. Often parents engage in listening to the rhetoric. It sounds good. It sounds convincing.

Mark’s parents gave him too much freedom and control. They did not want to upset him; however, in doing so, Mark only achieved short-term solutions, with long-term implications. Possessing no interest in working towards singles, resulted in Mark aborting that part of his life entirely for green, more instantaneous pastures.

Parents must relieve children from “going it alone” and be actively involved in their educational lives. Who cares if the child becomes agitated or claims he/she is not being heard?! In their world, not being heard means not getting their way. Once the child understands that the parent is there to guide and direct, then a realistic plan can be accomplished and “buy-in” achieved.   The line will be drawn and good habits will ensue.

Instilling responsibility creates a “win/win” scenario and parents must embrace this responsibility. Alternatively, the absence of responsibility taking will create losing ways, chaos and larger tantrums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Point of Pinch-Hitting?

31

You can control your emotions and how you react. The choice is yours. Game readiness entails being prepared for all potential scenarios. The dedicated ball players continue to work at their craft and wait for that moment when they are called upon.   Part-time players play an integral role on the team.   They are often referred to as role-players. As a member of the team, their services are valued in the same manner as all other players, coaches and team personnel. No one is bigger than the game.

Similarly, students may excel in one subject and struggle in another. However, school-day readiness will enable students to know how to work through slumps and tougher moments.   The self-control and discipline to manage whatever comes his/her way needs to be ingrained at an early age so that the child knows nothing else. Then the habit becomes automatic.   This discipline will make the child ready and wanting to tackle difficult situations.

The ball player being called upon to pinch hit will attack this assignment with vigor and a healthy intensity, assuming parents consistently encourage a positive effort and demand a standard of excellence in their work. Hiccups will occur; however, a dependable work ethic will be evident, provided that the effort exists. The choice will be the choice of a winning attitude.

This way, whatever the assignment, the approach will be the same. The consummate professional will assume the challenge and make something positive out of the opportunity at hand.

Pinch-hitting is a specialty that endears managers and coaches alike.   Accepting the importance of every role removes any stigma and allows for incredible moments.   Imagine, for example, Rich, 16 years old, gets the call from his coach to pinch-hit with the game on the line. The positive Rich will have taken practice swings, hit off the tee throughout the game, been a vocal supporter on the bench, studied the pitchers and been there every step with his teammates.   Rich will be eager to step into the batter’s box with the goal of putting a good swing on the baseball. While a base hit would be welcomed and celebrated, no matter the outcome, Rich will be embraced as a key member of the team.   More importantly, the good feelings of being called upon will resonate and stay with Rich.

Parents must encourage an attitude of “sticking with it” at all costs. Otherwise, the work will get harder and options will become more limited.   The “can do” approach is what needs to be emphasized. This will promote healthier choices and constructive risk-taking.

 

How Can a Family Work Like a Baseball Team?

18

The old adage “there is no “I” in team” applies to both families and parenting. A baseball club is a finely tuned athletic machine, a community comprised of unique individuals who have banded together. With the right systems in place, solid leadership will foster player buy-in and lead to positive results everyone will feel good about.

When a MLB player does not beat out a ground ball, the team suffers. The manager of the Toronto Blue Jays will go grey if this batter stops running or lightly jogs towards first base. Giving up on the play while it is still in progress turns a manager’s stomach and demoralizes the entire bench. Baseball teams often use a kangaroo court to police themselves by imposing a fine if one commits an infraction deemed detrimental to the team, such as not sprinting hard “out of the box” to first. Coaches or upper management may need to take different disciplinary action. This could result in penalties, being benched for a game or even a demotion.

The family franchise operates much like the inner workings of a baseball one. In both cases, rules and expectations must be clearly communicated. Confusion will arise for parents and children when consistent follow through is not evident.

12-year-old Vicky constantly walks by the garbage, which is overflowing in the kitchen. Mom gets upset and Vicky responds with equal and additional dismay. Vicky contends that all mom had to do was ask and she would have cleared and replaced the old garbage bag.   Vicky has ample time to text, go on YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. Where is the initiative, the responsibility and the sense of the family unit, the team?

The accountability lies with parents and lack of a deliverable plan. Why should Vicky contribute to household chores when their importance was not instilled during her formative years? Vicky breezes by the garbage, piles of clean laundry and the dishwasher because she can. It is far easier to absorb shouting, knowing that parents will complete the task.

Strong parenting demands a style where both parents embrace and deliver a clear plan.   For instance, had Vicky kept her head up as she rounded first base, she would have noticed that the ball got misplayed and would have accelerated towards second base. Anticipating the play before it happens represents buying into the game plan, paying attention and following through.   Parenting and coaching require the proper modeling at the outset to impart the foundation.

 

 

What Does Acting Up at Home Have to Do with a Player Being Allowed to Play?

29

Today’s child seems to think that their parents or persons of a certain age are not authority figures. What a counter-intuitive development!   The adults/parents in the room have set up a society where children think they are our “equals.” Everything is owed to our children. All Julian has to say is, “sorry,” or show some degree of remorse, and the shuttle service resumes service.

Very often, the baseball field replicates the atmosphere at home.   Julian is known for swearing, verbally abusing both parents and hitting his mother.  This confuses his parents, as Julian is the “model child” around other children and their parents. As a result, his parents frequently “cave in” to his demands.   Since he is so good around others, they feel sorry for him and don’t want to deprive him of positive social situations. From the outside-in, it appears as if Julian is living a dual life.

On the baseball field, Julian presents in an angelic manner.   He is aware that leading up to arriving at the game, he has not spoken appropriately to his mother; however, no one would ever know. Julian shows up, takes his position and carries on with his game day preparations.   The inner Julian feels shame and embarrassment. The game commences.

The right to play is a privilege not a right. Parents need to get over the fact that they cannot ‘take away’ their child’s passion, what they are good at. The paradigm needs to shift to one of choices. This can only happen through the proper guidance.   The way a child like Julian gets what is expected is through learning that hard work pays off.

Parents must decide their philosophy of parenting together and then develop a united front.   Julian will get the message when the message transmitted is free of excuses and full of opportunity and empowerment. Parents must lift the veil of denial and see how they are damaging their children by not laying down the “law of the land.” Expectations must be clear and consistent.

Children understand internally that it is wrong to reward bad behaviour. Their actions clearly suggest to their parents that this approach is not working.

 

How Do I Get on The Team?

 

21

Anthony possessed a flair for drama. He was generally talented, but also liked short cuts. He had learned the art of laziness. One day, Anthony declared that he was ready for his mother to find him a baseball team. He expected that she would do the “legwork” and make the necessary phone calls, and that he would be placed on a team without having to show up.

Anthony’s mom wondered about whether Anthony should have the choice to forgo weekly practices or whether he should be forced to attend. Mom cited his level of disdain and meltdowns the last time this was attempted. Anthony was able to cajole his way out of playing in the prior season due to his temper tantrums. Mom felt bad that he was having such a bad time and not enjoying himself.

Too often, we, as parents, create the monsters behaviourally. When Anthony’s mother decided not to give him the choice, Anthony initially “lost his mind”.   This was a light-bulb moment. Mom realized the manipulation and realized that she was not doing Anthony any favours by giving him such power.

Knowing his ability level, passion for the game, and raw talent, mom took the pressure off Anthony’s shoulders and re-registered him. This time the goal in mind was to create a structure of expectation, which did not include quitting.

If children do not like what we are doing, it means that we are doing something right. We are not their friends. They have tons of them (in theory). What children require are firm, but friendly and consistent expectations.   When your child is good at something and has demonstrated acumen for that particular activity (baseball), then it is the parents’ responsibility to say “no” to the manipulation (that is not fair) and yes to the advancement of the child (real-world thinking and living).

 

Why Even Try Swinging, When I am Going to Strike Out or Get Hit by The Pitch?

5

Approaching hitting in this fashion has no upside.   Remember, baseball is a game of failure. A very good batting average is .300, which means that 7 out of 10 times you do not reach base.   With that in mind, regarding the art of hitting from a deficit standpoint is hardly a productive exercise. That said, if the goal is to stand at home plate and pray, then perhaps it is best to stand on the “on-deck” circle and watch the game and/or life pass you by. Everyone strikes out and everyone gets hit. It is part of the culture of baseball.

Parents must encourage, be patient and supportive.     Learning the game of baseball the proper way mirrors the game of life. It takes time and a lot of practice. The ups and downs of a long baseball season can be a grind; however, with the proper guidance, parents can instill the necessary limits.

Parents must adopt the notion that limits equals love. Your son or daughter will not crack. Baseball pressure resembles school pressure. Players and students need to understand the expectations and the expectations must be enforced consistently.

One of two things will ensue: the fear of being hit or the humiliation of standing there will become a reality or the correct approach of stepping into the batter’s box with a plan. Parents set the stage and must be the role models.

It is about routine practicing. For example, Samantha is a rep softball player who is a dominating hitter in her league. Her teammates look up to her because she always seems on her game. Even when she is struggling, Samantha is focused and positive. Her demeanor does not shift.

Parental alert…It is not enough to go for the bare minimum. The good players wait in the on-deck circle, take practice swings in tandem to the pitcher’s delivery.   They study the delivery carefully. As well, this preparation occurs in the dugout when the hitting coach extends a few friendly reminders and prior to the game.

Parents must set the stage for optimal learning. Through their example, players like Samantha can hone their hitting skills and become better citizens who are positioned to assume healthier risks. Fear of failing is not failing, but the very definition of insanity.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Should I Attend the Tryout? I Don’t Want to Play.

40

Does this sound familiar? This response is as common and as predictable when your child does not like or accept parental direction/authority.

For example, Joshua (aged 12) had seen a reduction in his playing time, as a result of his indifferent ways both during practice and in game situations. It appeared that Joshua was content receiving limited playing time. After a few seasons with the same coaching staff and players, Joshua’s parents felt it was time to push him more. When the parents were asked about the change in their approach, their reaction was one of concern for Joshua’s lack of motivation. When Joshua was informed that he would no longer be playing on that particular team, and that he had a number of tryouts; whereby, scouts from more competitive teams would be present to evaluate his ability, his reaction was of allergenic proportions. Joshua frothed at the mouth, lowered his head and instantly appeared sad at the prospect.

A week later, when confronted with the situation again, Joshua was adamant that he did not want to participate. His answer was one word: “because”…When probed further, Joshua confessed to not liking the idea of having to practice and motivate himself to improve. His level of stress at the notion of having to work harder was not something he wanted to entertain. Upon speaking with Joshua, what emerged was his interest in wanting to be better, but concern and fear of how to get there was evident. When he realized that his parents were not going to back down, Joshua accepted that he would be at those tryouts. He understood that his effort and attitude would have to be more positive.   Following the protesting, Joshua declared that he would make one of the teams. Additionally, he asserted that he would try this new arrangement for a year and see how he felt.   It was like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

The parents conceded that they felt badly for him and thought it would be best for those earlier years not to upset him.   With a consistent view for his best interest, the parents came to realize that Joshua needed to feel some discomfort in order to see his capacity. In this family dynamic, too often, Joshua was given a choice and not told “no”.

What is the point of showing up early to the game, when I can be playing 5 more minutes of video games?

9

Michael exerted a lot of control over his parents. Like many children/adolescents/adults today, Michael’s entitled behaviour and his need for instant gratification superseded any other activity. He was agreeable to his parents assuming the like/interest was present, and he was self-loathing and upset (no shortage of emotion) when he was not getting what he wanted, when he wanted it.

Routinely, Michael lost himself in the world of on-line fantasy play. When it came time to concentrate on soccer, for example, Michael was found to be distracted and too social during game situations. The coach would often need to redirect Michael and this caused abundant frustration for the coach.

Initially, Michael’s parents were reluctant to limit his screen time. However, the need to do so grew as a result of Michael’s meltdowns, his refusal to follow expectations and his feeling sorry for himself.   When asked prior to the start of a new school year what he wanted to achieve during the first semester, he retorted with: Gs. He said that he would “feel nothing different with Es.” At that moment, Michael’s parents realized the need for more structure in his life.

Historically, Michael would quit midway and find excuses. Michael’s parents informed him that his priorities needed to be his schooling first and then time permitting, fun-time could be enjoyed.

Michael’s parents invested themselves in developing the correct work habits for Michael. They acknowledged that it would be difficult for him at first, as Michael would have to “block out” the negative outside influences.

Instant gratification does not represent reality. In order for a work ethic and drive to be present, parents must “put their foot down” early on in the game. If not, the window of opportunity closes and the job at hand becomes more difficult.

 

Why Do I Need To Go To Practice?

30

Johnny was a gifted athlete who excelled at many sports. In particular, he was passionate about playing baseball. However, Johnny did not cope well when he would commit an error while playing shortstop. He would sulk, hang his head and become unfocused. Johnny’s inability to recover while transitioning between the field and batting was very noticeable to his teammates, coaches and parents. He revealed that he did not like the feeling associated with shutting down and realized that his breakdowns in the field were affecting not only his defensive play, but also his hitting. After much protesting, Johnny opened himself to the possibility of re-thinking his approach. He was not happy about getting stuck and not being able to shake the shutdown mood.

For Johnny, it made sense to focus on self-control, breathing and viewing the bigger picture. He arrived at the understanding that he could make an error, learn, apply and move forward. Once he gave himself permission to write, “move on” under the bill of his cap, his attitude drastically improved, and he played a more relaxed game. Johnny learned how to exist “in the moment” and have fun.

A key component to his success was convincing his parents to “buy into” responsibility-taking. That is, engaging with positive reinforcement and ignoring the negative. The minute Johnny’s parents placed that responsibility on his shoulders, Johnny adopted and practiced a more relaxed approach.

Johnny committed himself to practicing, “move on”. This tool freed him and allowed him to embrace other tools to help improve his game.   Johnny’s parents witnessed the real benefits in pushing Johnny to slow things down, find solutions and keep his feet on the ground. With expectations, structure and positive messaging, the parents were able to give Johnny a foundation in order to work through his challenges. Johnny witnessed the value of practicing and smiled more.

Parents need to facilitate a practice setting in order for children to practice their repetitions. Through repetitions, good habits will be gained.