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March 29, 2015


The Real BOYS Of Summer

by Larry Leek

With spring in the air the major league baseball parks will be coming to life next Sunday April 5th, as the 2015 Major League Baseball season gets underway. But before baseball gets going full SWING lets go WAY back to when it seemed SO much fresher. Back when there was SO much excitement inside us, because it was all new to you as far as the experience. Lets go back to the real BOYS of summer, The Little Leagues.

All around the country little league organizations are starting up their seasons and thousands of kids are getting their first feel of what its like walking in their heroes shoes. Its something we all have dreamed of at one time or another in our life. You look SO forward to the time when that opportunity finally comes when all those dreams you had about that first at bat and how you could visualize the ball flying out of the park clear as a bell and then waving to the crowd in the stands, busting with pride as you round the bases and suddenly in an instant the dream is DASHED and you realize all too quickly that it takes MUCH more than just wanting to play and dreaming about it in order for it to become a reality. Suddenly those two words you’ve always heard your heroes say, the words HARD WORK actually have a meaning. On every team in every classification from the pros all the way down, you will always have your rookies and your veterans and it’s no different in the little leagues. You got the guys that play on the same teams together from the first year until they move to the next age group and you have the coaches that already know what the kids in their 2nd, 3rd or 4th year of playing are capable of and where to play them and then you’ve got the rookies that come in still very raw as far as their baseball skills are concerned and to the parents that watch their kids one things for certain, when it comes to little league baseball RAW is just down right funny. BUT to a kid coming in as a rookie you can bet it’s anything but & can even be WAY more terrifying in fact than it could ever be for a rookie stepping on the field for his first time in the majors. Especially since kids can be some of the cruelest people when it comes to other kids, It can really be tough on the rookies if their first attempt at a sport don’t go as planned and the negative OR hopefully positive experience can also be the deciding factor that determines if they choose to pursue it further in life. So it should be that their first experience is a good one IF at all possible, because it could also have riveting effects on them in many different ways thru out their life. After all Success at anything on ANY level will always promote the will within to be even more successful at the next, where the lack of it can have the opposite effect causing fear at the thought of taking that next step or to be willing to try a second time. So if  you as parent has a child wanting to play a sport for the first time ever and as much as we ALL want to see our kids be great at it, we do need to realize that in order for them to truly ENJOY it and get the REAL experience they seek and that the sport truly offers. Its OUR duty as parents to make sure they are as prepared as your knowledge of the sport will allow, SO how can you achieve this you might ask?

This is Whats On My Sports Mind on this subject.

Today I had the enjoyment of reliving my childhood and also my younger years as an adult as I attended my two grand kids little league baseball games. It made me think back to the first time I ever played in an organized league and my first time at bat. I was terrified and knew no one on the team. The field was just a couple hundred feet from my grandmothers home, where I would stay for alot of my childhood growing up and neither of my parents were there that day to watch the disaster. As the pitcher was throwing to me, the balls were zipping by so fast I could hear the ball popping the catchers mit before I could even manage to swing the bat. STRIKE I heard the umpire yell as he was overcome with the moment and which literally almost made me jump out of my shoes and to make it worse I was now utterly confused. Then here comes the next pitch which yields the same result, POP into the mit, no swing & STRIIIIKE!! I hear the ump. yell out again, even louder than the first time and I’m even more confused. Then comes the third pitch and the EXACT same result and this time the umpire gets REALLY loud yelling STE-RIKE THREE YOUR OUT!!!!!!!!!! I know when he saw the look on my face it had to be all he could do to keep from busting out laughing, cause by then I had become sooooo confused I was beginning to wonder if I was playing baseball OR something else. You see I had never had anyone really explain even the barest of the basics to the sport and as I’m walking back to the dug out I’m thinking that umpire must be crazy, HOW in the world could he have called strikes on me when I never even took one swing at the ball. Later in life in my late 20’s and early 30’s I got to experience the other side of it as a father and then later as a coach and I wanted to make sure my son and my teams were better prepared than I had been. If you ever sign your kid up to play any sport make every effort to prepare him for the experience and ways you can do this is by teaching them the BASIC rules and fundamentals of the sport. Since we are on the subject of baseball lets use it for an example. First it’s important that they have an understanding of how the game is played and the objective. What an out is and the different ways one occurs, make sure they know NOT swinging at the ball can be a good thing and a bad one as well. Before they will ever actually hit a ball they need to learn HOW to hit, to keep their eye on the ball. NOT the pitcher. When learning to bat, teach them what the plate is all about and how it is used to determine IF they should swing at the ball or not. Teach them how swinging at a ball is supposed to be nothing more than the NORMAL, natural swing and teach them that normal (contact the ball) swing, and also teach them that if they have to swing the bat up high like swatting at the sky, down low like hitting at the ground or if they have to reach way out, stretching out their arms out in full extension or back away from it to keep from getting hit, that those are the kind of balls they should NEVER swing at. Teach them the difference between a ball and a strike and also how to run the bases when they get a hit. Teach them what a foul ball is. I saw kids hitting OBVIOUS foul grounders today and players in the field running over grabbing the ball and chasing down the runner (who was also running when he should have known NOT to) to tag him. Learning to catch the ball can be one of the most difficult things to learn for a kid. When catching pop fly’s teach you child how to line the ball up with his glove by sight and to follow the ball into the glove with his other hand securing it in the glove, while not letting anything distract him. Yell at him like fans would to simulate this and to help him to learn the meaning of the word CONCENTRATION. Have him throw the ball up as high as he can continuing to do so until he can catch them at a high percentage. When learning to field, a solid wall with no nearby windows can be a great asset in teaching a kid to field grounders & liners. Get a rubber ball as close to the size of a baseball as possible, give him a glove & let him stand back 15 feet or so, throw the ball at the wall or you throw it and as it bounces off the wall flying or rolling back towards him he can practice catching it over and over. In My Sports Mind, IF you are going to sign your child up to play a sport, don’t just sign him up and than say HAVE AT IT!!! assuming that he already has learned how to play from friends or that his coach is going to teach him EVERYTHING he needs to know. Remember your child is not the only player on the team and that the coach is going to have more kids than time will ever permit for him to be able to spend any kind of real time teaching the BARE basics to anyone of them individually. So it’s up to YOU, the parent to help them with the BARE basics to make their first experience a little less stressful and hopefully a WHOLE lot more enjoyable and memorable. 

So Whats On Your Sports Mind on this subject?



2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 25 2015

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  2. Apr 26 2015

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