I believe that during the Growing years, a coach needs to be there for every player on that club. They need to offer advice about player technique, practice with his players, be a critic while motivating, and just teach those kids to work hard to achieve their goals. And the goal should not only be about getting better as a player, but help the team win!
With that means that team bonding needs to happen. It means that you pick each other up on a big or bad play and help keep each other’s head in the game. The game cannot be won by one great coach or 1 great player.
You need 12 guys that have the same passion and commitment. You need a coach that brings confidence out in his players too! But in this day and age… I am seeing a trend that I hate…
When it comes to practice, only half the team shows up. Why? Now I get it, sometimes homework is way too much and believe me, school is very important. Hey, maybe you have a communion you need to attend… that’s a family matter, no sweat.
But if you’re not showing up to play and grow with your team because you have basketball or you just feel like riding your bike. Well… that doesn’t cut it. Commitment is important at any age. It’s discipline… you signed up, you better be there!
Team comradery is important is baseball! You need to work together to improve in your craft. Here’s an example… you have a shortstop on your team that’s very good. He’s much more talented than many on the team and just ahead of the pack in style and poise.
But that shortstop never comes to practice because he’s always at lacrosse during the week. The other shortstop on the team is not as smooth, but works hard and is dedicated to the team.
He’s never missed a practice. He’s doing his best to make the plays and is slowly improving and you can see the confidence in his face.
But come game time on Sunday, stud number 1 shows up and the coach puts him there for 6 innings and shortstop number 2 plays right field for 4 innings and second base for 1.
Now these kids were 10 years old and this is a true story. And so I ask…where’s the commitment from shortstop number 1? Why is the other guy being shafted for doing the work, showing up and being committed to the team while the “stud” shows up when he wants, yet, he gets to play? That’s his spot? Why?
I hated it when I saw it, and I hate it now. My philosophy is much different…
You sign up, you show up, you work hard, you earn your keep. What that coach should have done was sit that stud, rolled the dice on the other guy because of the dedication he offered to his team. Life lesson folks, write it down.
Would that team make the plays that day? Hey, maybe less of them… but a lesson needs to be taught here; if you don’t put in the work, there is zero reason for you to be out on that field in the spot you want. ZERO. That coach wanted a win, and no doubt he was looking for the sure thing with that stud shortstop, but in the growing years as I call them, every player needs to be committed, every player needs to work and every player should have an opportunity to earn their spot once in a while.
I’m of the belief that we have gone off the rails when it comes to youth baseball. We want the “automatic” win, the sure thing, many of us coaches just want the trophy and not move around players because “it gets too complicated” as one coach once told me. Um… that’s the job… do it correctly and stop determining a player’s future for your sick “automatic” championship.
If you are not committed, you shouldn’t be playing. I hate to ever turn a kid away from baseball, but that’s the truth! If you show up, put in the work, and prove to your team and coach that you want to be part of the success of that franchise, it is important that you be dedicated, free from other sports and play dates and not showing up ‘cause you don’t want too. That’s all bologna.
Show your pride for not only yourself, but for your team! After all, that coach is out there for 3 months straight, running home from work to meet you at the field to do drills and inspire you.
The best respect you can give back to that coach is to be committed.
And when that coach sees it, the best respect he can give back is to make sure you get your spot… not because you’re expected to have it, but because you earned it.
Food for thought… now let’s play ball.
–Rob Monaco, Father, Coach and Baseball Commissioner
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