I saw something really cool this weekend. My girlfriend and I went to the batting cages and a dad was there with two 10 year old boys. For about an hour the father sat in a chair next to the cage the boys were hitting in and gave instructions.
Thirty to forty minutes into it, my girlfriend asks me “Does that drive you crazy?”
She has heard me be passionate about how we develop and go about developing our young athletes. She knows I feel our youth sports system is broken. She has seen me coach basketball as different levels and in different arenas. She knows how I go about developing the young athletes I work with and that I believe in empowerment, freedom to make mistakes and grow…all within a long term approach.
Maybe she asked me that question because she caught me watching them a time or two. I was watching them. I listened to the tone of the father’s voice. I watched his demeanor when giving instructions to the 2 boys and when they failed to do what he was asking. I watched the boy’s reactions to making mistakes and how they received the instructions from the dad.
It was awesome!
All of it was awesome. Eye contact was made at all times of interaction. The father let the boys make mistakes and let them know it was ok to make mistakes. The father also had a clear plan for that day…they worked on bunting, drag bunting and hitting line drives. I saw one boy hit 7 straight balls on the ground, the dad called him over, put his hand on the boy’s helmet and taught him in a calm, clear, positive voice. The boy hit 4 of the next 6 as line drives and the father celebrated that. Big smiles were on both of their faces as the boy exited the cage.
Those boys got better at baseball this weekend. But what we fail to see is that their love for the game probably grew because they were allowed to make mistakes and learn without worry. Their successes were celebrated and the interaction with the father was positive. We need more of this type of learning. We need to give our young athletes time to develop, freedom to make mistakes and the opportunity to grow from them.