Fixing an attitude

Hi everyone,

This is my first post, but I’ve been around before and would just like to say I love this site.

Anyways, straight to the problem. I’ve been out to watch my little brother play this spring and have noticed that his attitude can be at times very negative. Let me give you some background information.

My brother is 10 yrs old and plays at the highest level here in Ontario. He’s the youngest of 6, so he has to fight for everything and he’s got a very competitive nature. He’s a good kid and loves baseball, but like I said can be a suck at times.

It usually starts when he’s on the mound and there are errors behind him or he’s not getting some calls. Granted, from the games I’ve seen, he does have to get 4-5 outs an inning sometimes, but it’s his attitude for the rest of the game that kills me. It’s not so much as being a suck, it’s more like a “What’s the point?” attitude (a given up attitude) and it affects the rest of his game as well, like jogging out a groundball or hanging his head in the dugout while his teammates are cheering. I know that negative attitudes can be a poison for a team.

I’m 13 yrs older than him and was given the opportunity to play right through college and I craved to play every game and win or lose just trying to have fun, compete and get better. I also remember hating guys with crappy attitudes and I don’t want him to grow up like that in baseball or life. Things should be done 100% all the time.

He is usually so competitive, it puzzles me why he so readily gives up. I was never a pitcher, but to all the pitchers here, when someone makes an error do you feel like they let you down? Or maybe you let your team down because you couldn’t get the out?

His “new” attitude seems to have started this year, so I was thinking it wise to kill it before letting it grow. My dad has said he has talked to him a countless times about it with little success. I was wondering if anyone had an opinion or thought about how to fix this? Would a punishment for acting up, like making him run work? Or just keep trying to talk be better?

Anyways thanks in advance,


What you’re refer’g to here starts long before this.

Attitude and temperament traits are usually born of little things that compound themselves, and ultimately float to the surface –THEN RECOGNIZED after the personality cement hardens and set in stone. Trying to adjust that kind of “ personality brick” is a tuffy, if not impossible.

Unfortunately, other things creep into the processes like - not getting my way, I want that and I want it now, … you get the idea.

However, people like this don’t live in a vacuum. Other things during the day pop up and mom and dad usually let things slid, teachers at school just can’t be bothered, coaches in any sport aren’t their to baby sit and when a problem kid comes along it’s just too easy to replace him/her like a pen that just ran out of ink. Rarely do coaches become an important link in the culture of reinforcing what’s done at home because of what’s going on at home and other stuff.

Your brother will sooner or later have to come top-dead-center with someone getting in his field of view and saying … “grow up sunshine.” And that someone will have to BE someone in a long line of someone’s that usually stands behind mom and dad, along with hearing these words … NEXT!

Coach B.

Thanks for the quick reply Coach B., I realized trying to change a personality trait was hard, if not impossible like you said. But the thing is he hasn’t shown this attitude before, he also takes constructive critisism very well, whether it’s a change in mechanics or his swing, he takes in what you say and works with it.

He’s the captain of his hockey team and the first person who’d defend a teammate. This “I give up” mentality is mind-boggling, unless like you said it is just coming out now, but he still doesn’t strike me as a “suck”.

For baseball, it seems just to be on the mound. When he’s playing one of the corner infield positions(his normal positions outside pitching), he’s fine. Is there a different pressure when you’re on the mound? Should we just keep him off the mound? I rather him face the problem then run from it, but it’s embarrassing to see him act that way in a game.

Also, I didn’t understand your last paragraph (I’m a bit tired, lots of work right now). Could you elaborate?

Thanks again,


In my last paragraph…
Your brother will sooner or later have to come top-dead-center with someone getting in his field of view and saying … “grow up sunshine.” And that someone will have to BE someone in a long line of someone’s that usually stands behind mom and dad, along with hearing these words … NEXT!

Based on reading your remark concerning your brother …
“He’s the youngest of 6, so he has to fight for everything and he’s got a very competitive nature….” suggests that constantly striving to get his fair share of anything brings some pressure in addition to other things in his life that others in your family may not see, or understand. And on that note, pitching is by no means without pressure. And many times the experience can be less than stellar. So, with everything else that your brother has to deal with – PLAYING baseball at the pitcher’s position is anything but play – it’s agonizing.

Now helping a young man deal with pressure and striving to make his mark in this world is what family is all about. It starts with mom and dad doing with moms and dads do, brothers and sisters doing their part, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and so on. Why? Because the rest of the world expects a certain criteria of behavior, a norm if you will. Something I’m sure that comes as no sock to you. ( I apologize if that sounded sarcastic – I don’t mean to read that way.)

So, when I suggested a long line of people that stand behind your mom and dad expecting a certain norm of behavior that is civil, mature, reasonable and so on, they (those people) will expect to be doing their part AFTER mom and dad (and you) have done yours. Hence the word “next” in my post. And all this is a process during the growing years. And “those people” are teachers, scout leaders, sport coaches, pastors, crossing guards and school bus drivers/monitors, and the list goes on. These people are thee NEXT in line, after mom and dad, to meet and deal with your brother. And depending on age, time and place – when a youngster has a short fuse, gets belligerent and so on, invariably the first thing that crosses his field of vision is someone (those people) telling him to “ grow up.”

Did I answer your question?

Coach B.

Coach B -

Having not grown up around my grandfathers I was never privy to the sage advice all grandsons get from their grandfathers, but reading the things you write on this site makes me feel like I am getting a taste of it every now and then. I just wanted to say thank you for that and please don’t stop posting because the kids on this site really need to hear the things you have to say!

That poster could be describing my son, but…

He doesn’t get his way at home, he isn’t catered to, or coddled. Has a great work ethic and is, most times, a great kid to be around.

He also doesn’t “throw fits”, although he does have some attitude to him, most time he knows his limits. He only loses it during sports and or video games. He really, really doesn’t like losing/not preforming well.

My approach has been to try to get him to understand that in that state of mind poor play breeds on it’s self. That sports at this age is about learning and building towards the next level and when your mind goes to that place it can’t learn anything. I also find myself telling him at these times, “this attitude helps how?”

Last game things didn’t go well on the mound and I expected the worse. At one point he got to the mound, and of all things took a deep breath and got out of the inning. I made a really big deal over that. Maybe there’s hope for him after all, LOL.

Always providing validity to the term “Gentleman”, I really appreciate having a standard to aim at Coach :wink:
I can’t agree more with OC :clap:
The folks who participate on the site are very blessed.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.
The 1961 Cincinnati Reds had a pitcher, Jay Hook, who reminded one of the little girl with the curl in the old nursery rhyme. When he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad—he stank on hot ice. One day he was pitching against the Pirates, and on that day he not only stank on hot ice, he absolutely sucked. The Pirates were eating him alive, turning every pitch he threw into a line-drive extra-base hit, and finally the manager had to remove him from the game in the fifth inning. Hook returned to the dugout, where he sat in a corner and bemoaned the loss of his fast ball; it had up and deserted him.
Jim Brosnan, a very good relief pitcher for Cincinnati who might have made a good pitching coach if he had wanted to go in that direction, tried to explain to Hook: “Nobody has all his best stuff every time out. That’s when you learn this game. You have other pitches to throw. Use them when your fast ball isn’t there.” But Broz might as well have been talking to the wall. Hook appeared not to hear him; he just sat there and moaned and kvetched over and over, "Without my fast ball I can’t pitch."
He didn’t last much longer in the majors after that.
I hope your kid hasn’t begun to fall into that trap, because if he has he’s going to be in for a very hard time. Not only does he need to develop a good arsenal of pitches—and the control and command to go with them—he also needs to develop the mental toughness that will enable him to get through tight spots. I’ve seen too many major league pitchers fall by the wayside because of this. (sigh) If only he could get together with someone like Mariano Rivera, talk to him and above all listen to him; this great closer developed that mental toughness and refused to let blowing a save or two get in his way. And he’s arguably the greatest closer in the game, not only today but for all time. 8)

When I coach privately I always ask my young prospect what Major League team does he aspire to play for one day. I follow up that question with another – what player on that team do you most admire and if that player could be sitting right next to you who would you pick?

The reasons for the player pick usually follows suit with things like, “I can learn a lot”, “he can show me things that’ll improve my game”, etc.

I then immediately ask him,” If you had to pick people whose played the game of life, and has gone through all the things that your about to, who would be the best player that you would want by your side showing you the ropes.”

Invariably, without fail, there is a long pause and dead air. The young man will think and thing and think.

To move the meeting along, I start to nod my head towards his mom and dad – then the light bulb goes off. …. along with …” ohhhh yeah!

Mom’s and dad’s have traveled the road that most youngsters are on. Parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents have hit most of the pot holes, paid the fair, and normally come out of the experience with some pretty savvy stuff. Stuff that would comes in handy – like answers, or at least a suggestion or two to help along the way

The youngster that has SomeBaseballDad has such a teammate. And it seems like everyday of this youngster’s life he hearing " Son, the word came down - we’re sending you up today. You’ll do just fine."

Coach B.

Boy, this is a hard one. I don’t think I’ll let my son play baseball (or any organized sport) this coming year b/c he is way too competitive and loses it when 1) an ump doesn’t get a call right, or 2) he’s on the wrong end of a blow out.
To me, the issue is learning to distinguish between what you can control and what you can’t. Or, rather, how do you teach that? My son knows he’s made a mistake after he’s thrown a fit, but by then it’s too late.
Oh, and I won’t let him pitch till he shows he can handle it.
I even emailed Paul O’Neill to get some advice!

I had a man in my rotation that had issues with controlling his temper. How he go to our club without screening this problem out was beyond me, but it happens.

I noticed he couldn’t handle certain things that wouldn’t go his way. Most of the team kept him at arms length, which did nothing for the club in total.

After every “situation”, he’d go into his act … " I’m sorry, … got-a work on that … shouldn’t have done that … "

In a locker room, he snap’d a shoe lace while lacing up his spikes - took the shoe off and sent it accross the room. Near hit yours truely while reading the newspaper.

Three days later - gone. Shame too, the man could pitch.

Later on, I found out this wasn’t the first time the man had been past on. And for him - we were the bottom of the runner as far as talent goes in trying to make a paycheck out of this game.

I’ve never seen it fail - problems and personalities seem to mix with other experiences in life that spill over into most everything. But people aren’t born this way unless a medical professional says so due to … whatever. Trying to handle dissapointments, failures, even a red light at an intersection starts the front burner going which in turn boils over anything that sits on top of it. Not so good personal expereinces seem to be rehashed and rehashed in a person’s mind, and concentrating on what’s gonig on at the moment is not so easy - due to reliving something else.

For the individual that passed through my doors, and nearly missing me with his spike, he had a family, people that cared - but some how no one sat down with him and got to the bottom of what was bothering him. More than likely, they too kept him at arms lenght due his mood swings and lack of handling certain things - not to mention the guy was 6’ 3" - 225 pounds. But when people are young, those personalities are doable things to work with, regardless. And although I’d notice him talking to himself from time to time - muttering this or that, that wasn’t my concern. Heck, I talk to myself all the time - drove one skipper nuts and he’d deligate me to bullpen duty every chance he got. On the other hand, with this man at this stage in his life it made little or no difference to me - your gone sunshine - C-ya.

Coach B.