I am without a doubt the biggest proponent of parents being involved in their kids’ lives. I truly believe the value of parents not only actively supporting their kids’ dreams, hopes, and aspirations through encouragement is under calculated but the act of physically participating in the teaching of and training of whatever their kid’s choice of activity might be is drastically under calculated just the same. I’m not sure if you caught it or not but in the second sentence, I wrote THEIR KIDS’ dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Goodness, this is such a fine line on a steep slope. That line/slope combo so often leads to the “Daddy-Ball” trend. Where dads/moms worry their kids won’t be college recruited by the time they are 13 and by 15 the kids are so burnt out by 60 plus games a year for the past 5+ years complete with 200+ bracket rings to prove it, they are ready to put up their sports career for good.
Trust me I get it. Ultimately, I’d like to believe parental participation all stems from love and wanting the best for our kids. It’s why the line is so fine and the slope is so steep. We want more than we had. Better coaching than we had, perhaps, or possibly it’s the exact coaching we had we desire for our kids because a coach changed your perspective and love for the game. Sadly, there is also the slight possibility that the dad/mom has something to prove through their kid, but I try hard to give the benefit of the doubt and assume this isn’t the case, either way, I’ll address that scenario shortly.
The daddy(mama) ball scene often stems from when these dads/moms become coaches for their kids and their kids alone. There is no desire to improve the sport and all players that are involved. When a “Team” is just a necessary evil for your kid to get more playing time, your kid might get better fundamentally in that sport, but the things that really matter in life, well they are going to lack, and lack big. This mentality, this type of coaching, leads to selfish players and/or broken players. Neither are usable on a sports field, collegiate field, professional field and if we’re all honest, in anything that involves “teamwork” in life. The heart for their kids is there, but anything drenched in selfishness will be lost in translation, thus, no one wins.
We all know that Dad who “could have made it” if he wouldn’t have thrown his arm out in little league throwing curve balls at nine and ten years old. I know one personally, and my kids call him Dad. His experiences good and bad have definitely set the framework for his mindset when it comes to his children in sports. Pitch counts, pitch types, and stretches are just a few when thinking about the game of baseball. He and my boys spend hours together watching and playing sports. Never once have I heard him ask them to go in the yard to throw, or to turn on a ball game. Our kids set the tone for each throwing/hitting session, each game of “Cat” in basketball and each “drill” in football. He’s a Ball Dad, and a dang good one. Their dreams are valuable to him, and the knowledge he brings to the table has great worth. The time he brings to the table, his presence alone, holds more weighted worth than anything else he could offer them.
I hope you walk that fine line on that steep slope for your kid. Truly, it’s worth it. I hope you always say yes when they ask to throw, hit, catch, or shoot. I hope you make a million memories with your kid whether it’s backyard coaching or windmilling your arms as a third base coach sending them home to score the winning run. Most of all, I hope you remember, your job as a ball dad/mom, is uncalculatable when it comes to value and holds more worth than any recruiting or success you could have through them. Use the time wisely, you are coaching people, not players. They become good players only after they become good people. Remember, it’s their dream, you are just lucky enough to get to be a part of it! Keep Getting Better- Coach Mama