Many of us have shuttle our kids around to youth baseball for most of their young lives. It’s not like when we were kids. When we were kids, we got to the field by bike, our mitt hung from the handle bars and the coach had the helmets and bats in a ratty old bag. Now, these days, there personalize equipment bags, bats featuring a player’s favorite lizard skin, eye black, water bottles and a pair of Oakleys. That’s right OAKLEYS! You’d never buy them for yourself, but your son is a baseball player now and so, in addition to the club baseball fee, you shelled out a few extra bucks for those darn Oakleys.
The sport has become much more expensive and much more competitive. And in the back of your mind, you may think that gives you a free pass to say whatever you want thinking you’re improving your kid’s baseball ability. Well, we wanted to share a very interesting story featuring former pro baseball player Jeff Banister, who these days does what many of us do with his children. He too got them the necessary equipment they need, and he watches his kids play too. But there is one unique technique that he suggests parents should try… saying nothing on the baseball field. In other words… let the kids play.
Here are some excerpts from a terrific Dallas Morning News article by Robert Wilonsky. Check this out:
“…a few weeks back I ran into Banister at a youth-league baseball tournament in McKinney. His son was playing on one field; my son, on the adjacent diamond. During a break between games, a friend of mine who has two boys on my son’s team went over to visit with Banister, because why not. He came back about 20 minutes later and said I really should go talk to him. “A smart man,” said my friend Mason. I begged off, insisting I didn’t want to bother Banister. Mason insisted. Said I should ask him about being the father of a baseball player. Said it was important…
I told him Mason said he could tell me everything I needed to know about being a better sports dad. He grinned. And he told me things. Many things. Things I haven’t shut up about since….
If I had to pick out a key phrase, it’s this one: If you talk to your child while they’re competing – even from a distance, even in a whisper – that’s all they can hear. And it’s the last thing they need to hear.
‘When you are on the field as an athlete, especially as a young athlete, the people you do not want to disappoint the most are your parents,’ he says. And when a child hears a parent’s voice, especially one telling them what ‘they’ve done incorrectly or need to do more of, it adds to the tension and the anxiety. When you’re there and you’re cheering and you’re clapping and lending support, their feeling is so much greater. They’re going to compete harder. They’re going to focus. … When they hear the clapping they know they did something good.’
When my son started playing ball, I used to shout things from the stands. I used to think it was being ‘helpful’ and ‘supportive.’ That glower should have told me otherwise. Now I shut up during games. Don’t say a word – just cheer and clap, that’s it. And now the boy plays with a smile – even after a strike-out. I’m not his coach. I’m his dad. His cheerleader. His biggest fan. I shouldn’t have needed Jeff Banister to remind me of that. But I’m glad he did.”
And in the end, that’s what it’s all about as a parent. You need to be their cheerleader. You need to be their support system… not their critic.
We found this article timeless, even though it was published a year ago. It doesn’t matter, the message is important. When you truly open your eyes and see the big picture, you realize that it’s about your kid’s success and confidence… it’s not about you.