Our very own JD posted the below commentary on another site and I’ve brought it back here because it is full of wonderful insight and perspective. It’s a little out of context here but still very meaningful. It should be mandatory reading for all parents and youth coaches.
They didn’t get to be that sort of parent over-night. It is extremely daunting to look at this challenge. Society being the culprit, it’s populated by people, every layer has its own fault. We can debate remedies, as with training a pitcher, there are many approaches. I think while attitudes and behaviors are changing, the very best we can all hope to do, is to keep the dialog fresh, provide information to those folks who seek it, contribute vocally and personally when provided opportunity on a local/area/regional/national level (Where-ever the chance presents) and know that we can’t save those who don’t want to be saved. Damage to a kid isn’t always presented instantly, so misguided parents will continue to think that their kid is tougher, or the exception, or too good to fail. By the time they got to you Jake it must have been intense.
I think the playing catch thing represnts the issue clearly…if in an unsupervised leisurely way, you go outside and toss the ball with your son…it is positive on every single level, you’ll quit when your tired, bond with your kid, excercise in an aerobic, more natural way. You’ll be able to mess around with stuff like pitch development, delivery style…any number of things…this is the way that I learned baseball, I’d bet that the majority of people posting on this subject learned it similarly…in an informal, unintense…non-forced way. It’s why we could play the game with what seemed impunity, we never heard of arm issues or burn out…and our parents just wanted us out of the house playing and staying out of trouble. Since about the early to mid 90’s this sort of learning went away from the norm.
I’d ask…which one of you guys had a personal coach when you were 6-13? Which one of you played upwards of a hundred formal games a year? Played 5 or 6 serious tourney games, weekend after weekend and then not only played an association game or two, but had really intense, “practise til you puke” practice at least once during the week…all year long…every year? Who here wouldn’t say this is flat nuts…just looking at the words as I write them…they seem unbelievable but it’s happening right now, all over the place. The kids that do it are the creme de la creme so it looks great and wow it’s so cool to go all those places…to be “Elite”…Oh lord how I hate that term and all that it stands for…because when they get to Jake…that crucible has worn those elite way down…but the folks still see that glory…free education, the bigs.
When looking at the whole totality of it, how could anyone believe there could be a way to change it?
My take is this, is to do what you can where you can and it will change. My personal example of this is the University of North Florida. The just retired head coach there, Dusty Rhodes, spent his entire multi-decade tenure there, building up his community prospect pool. It’s how he saw 6 yr olds…potential prospects. So what he did was to offer clinics and camps. Meaningful stuff, not the “Get enough money to travel” stuff you hear TG mention from time to time, but he used his players to teach fundementals to kids, with an emphasis on fun during this age. For example the young kids at his camps went through rotational fundementals drill and lecture in the mornings, got a good lunch, went swimming in the olympic pool after lunch and then on the softball fields they played this wild, fun game where the UNF players pitched rubber balls and it was rollicking just like the stuff we did when we were kids…rubber balls careening everywhere…kids laughing…oh hell yah thats baseball…no one ever wanted to leave (Dusty told me that he wanted kids to be able to “create” and “imagine”). What a saint…they named the complex after him.
Our association (Babe Ruth) and many others were able to actually get him and his staff to come to us (We did it by contributing to a foundation charitably) and train our coaches “how” to train players (For my perspective pitchers). Dusty always knew and spoke to the fact that the majority that played for him wouldn’t make the pro’s so his position was that he produce successful and responsible adults. The upshot of this is that right now I know of at least 7 HS’s (Major schools with national rankings…in Jacksonville and Orlando) that have Dusty Rhodes ex-players as HC’s. His intuitive guidance created associations which not only produced high quality players (Ours won 2 state championships for the first time in our towns 100 yr history) but high quality well trained volunteer coaches. None of those coaches would do the things I listed as questions above…or advocate it. This is what I mean about doing what you can where you can. It can be done by like minded folks…success will bring more. [/quote]