Baseball season is just about here, and with the spring comes Rec baseball.
As a commissioner of Recreation ball, I can tell you that there is nothing better for me as a coach! I thoroughly enjoy the season because there are always newcomers, there are the returning “veterans” and when you mix it all up and play on a big field, it’s an absolute blast!
But I have to tell you, these poor kids these days feel an enormous pressure to be perfect out there, and that is not how Rec baseball should be played. It’s just not. So do me a favor, kids… show up to practice ready to go, consume everything your coach is teaching you. Work at it, learn it well, and when you get out there Opening day, one piece of advice; just do your best and have fun! Do NOT put pressure on yourself! Smile out there! Enjoy the game and all it offers. Why? Because this is Rec, and this is the most important season of your childhood. Embrace it!
Rec baseball is not about championships. It’s about growth and development… and anyone who tells you differently has never truly understood what a Rec season is. If your dad wants you to play on a tough, competitive team, go play club. Good luck… I hope you make it.
This is Rec, where the pool of talent is across the board and you’re usually friends with the pitcher because he’s in your Science or Math class.
Rec baseball is about friendships, working toward goals and becoming a better ballplayer. It’s also about having a few laughs with friends and teamwork and good sportsmanship. After all… pickup games are long gone.
If you feel pressure in Rec ball, you need to shake it off. What? You’re worried about what your dad will say if you strike out? Forget it. You’re concerned that little Tommy’s gonna razz you in school tomorrow for dropping that fly ball? Blow it off, after all, he just made an error at second base. You’re even!
There is nothing “perfect” about Rec ball. In fact, there is nothing perfect about baseball in general. It’s a hard game! The only thing you need to worry about is being there for your team, respecting your team and opponent and LEARNING the game!
If you are a respectful, hardworking player willing to try and learn whatever is needed to get better, that will make a coach very happy. If you perform the task your coach is teaching in a game, he’ll be overjoyed. And if you make the play or play a role you’ve practiced… there is nothing better, for not only you, but for that coach!
Trust me, my favorite moments in Rec are the ones where kids who never played a position learn the spot in practice, and then execute in a game. That makes a moment for that player, it builds their confidence and over time, that player becomes consumed by the game. And that is the job of a Rec coach!
If a player can walk into Rec baseball liking the game, but walk away loving it, that coach has done his job. That child fell in love with baseball under their watch. He learned, he grew as a player and no matter the record… that player (or players) long to come back the following season.
In this day and age of competitive sports… there should never be pressure in Rec baseball. It’s about growing as a player. Grow and work hard and walk away knowing more about the game than you did before. That has always been the main purpose.
Sure… somewhere a while back we as a society lost our way and inserted the idea the championships and trophies for everyone as the new normal. It’s not reality.
Learning the fundamentals of the game, grasping the concept of teamwork and working hard to get better at this game is what Rec baseball is. If you win, that’s wonderful, but to me, winning is growing, especially in a season like Rec. Over time, with confidence, you can branch out to Travel ball, maybe even Club, and when you do, you will see the competitiveness that many have spoken about. Here’s the difference… because you learned so much in Rec baseball… you face those more competitive leagues with a much bigger perspective and tackle the challenge head on. Without Rec baseball, success at a higher level becomes more different. With it… you learn the tools to accomplish anything in this game. Ultimately, that’s why Rec baseball is there!
So for now, enjoy Rec. Forget your team’s record and the standings. Instead, ask yourself some questions… Are you growing? Are you learning? Are you having fun?
Bingo! Forget everything else!
I’ll see you on the field.
–Rob Monaco, Father, Coach and Baseball Commissioner
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