As a parent, you were probably really excited for baseball season to start. Especially if you played little league baseball as a kid, you’re eager to see your child get out there and enjoy the game of baseball as much as you did. You might have even caught yourself daydreaming about seeing your kid achieve things you always wanted to achieve on the field, but couldn’t.
That’s why it can be so frustrating when you go to games, and you see your kid spending so much time on the bench instead of being an active part of the game. One of the questions we hear from parents all the time is, “My kid sits on the bench frequently, what should I do”. Today, we’d like to help you out with an answer to that question.
Know the Little League’s Rule on Play Time
First of all, think back to the beginning of the season, or even before the season began. Many coaches will have meetings with parents and players before the season just to communicate their expectations, and to answer any questions you might have. If your team’s coach didn’t have one of these meetings, it can leave you feeling pretty confused about why your child is spending so much time warming up the bench, and less time playing in the game.
If your team’s coach did have one of those meetings, he or she probably talked about the amount of time a player is expected to sit on the bench. Each league is different, as far as how they schedule playing time. Does your league require each player to have the same amount of playing time, regardless of their ability? If so, and if you think your kid is spending too much time sitting out of the game, it will be worth it to bring it to the coach’s attention. If your league allows the coach to have more freedom with each player’s playing time, and you think your kid is sitting out unfairly, you should also bring it to the coach’s attention too.
Communicate with Your Coach, Calmly
However, we’d like to give you a word of caution, along with this advice. It will never benefit you to discuss this type of an issue with the coach during the game. While the team is playing, a coach’s mind is probably in a million different places, and anything you might say might inadvertently fall on deaf ears. In the same way, it won’t benefit you (or your child) if you start yelling at the coach during the game because you’re unhappy about your kid’s amount of playing time.
The best way to get some answers to your questions is to arrange a meeting , either in person or over the phone, with the coach when the team isn’t playing or practicing. That way, you’ll ensure that you have his or her complete attention, and you can gain some real understanding for why your child isn’t playing as much as you think he should be playing.
WHAT IF: Your Kid Is Just Not That Into The Game
So what should you do if the coach tells you that your kid has a bad attitude toward baseball, and just doesn’t seem to like the game very much?
This is a tough one for parents, especially if you’re someone who played baseball as a kid, and you just fell in love with it. If your kid doesn’t seem to be thrilled with the idea of putting on those cleats every few days, his attitude is probably going to influence his ability to play the game well. If you find your kid more on the bench than in the field, chances are the team’s coach is just reacting to your kid’s interest in the game.
We’d like to encourage you! It is possible to reignite that passion for baseball within your child, and here are a few things you can do as a parent.
Practice At Home
Many kids are really into video games, and a lot of them can quickly pick up what they need to do to really excel in them. Sports like baseball are a lot different because most of us just don’t possess that natural ability. Being good at baseball takes a lot of hard work, and it takes a lot of practice, which can be discouraging. However, if you tell your kid to just go outside and practice, you’re not giving him much direction, and you’re also not making it much fun for him either.
Even if your kid doesn’t love the game of baseball (yet!), he loves time spent with you. Take some time on a Saturday morning and go outside and throw the ball around the backyard for a while. Do t ball drills together. Take turns at batting practice, that way he can get used to hitting and pitching too. Find ways to make it fun for him. Does he like to keep score? If so, make hitting into a competition between the two of you. Show him the right way to hold the bat, and give him some pointers to help him have a more powerful swing. You can find lots of ideas for some age-appropriate drills and baseball training videos on the Internet. Kids are visual learners. Make sure you use videos from the creditable sources! Before long, he’ll really start improving, and he’ll be excited to see himself overcome various challenges. Trust me, once he gets better, his love for baseball will grow immensely.
Give Plenty of Praise – Be Specific
You might have to start small with your praise, especially if your kid begrudgingly walks outside to practice with you. Look for things he’s doing well, and be sure to compliment him on those things. Does he have a really accurate throw? Does his batting stance look strikingly similar to a professional baseball player’s? Praise goes much further than criticism, and you’ll find that if you can give him a great deal of praise, he’ll be much more likely to listen to you when you give him direction. Once your practice time is over, be sure to point out the ways that he’s improved, even over such a short time. One tip is not to praise in general, but to give specifics. For example: “Good job” is a much weaker praise than “you tilted your shoulder just right!” Sports psychologists have a lot of researches done on youth motivation. Praise on details.
Take a Field Trip
If you live in an area that’s near a professional baseball stadium, it would be great to take your kid to a game. However, even the smallest of towns have their own teams. Make it a point to go to at least one game this year so that your kid can really get a feel for the game. Attending a live game is much different than watching baseball on television, and even if he never liked to watch baseball games with you on TV, he’s much more likely to get into it if he’s there in person. If he’s been assigned a position, be sure to point out the players who are playing his position in the game. Before long, he’ll be eager to watch them and try to imitate what they’re doing for himself.
When you take the time to invest in your kid, you’ll soon find that his attitude begins to change. There is a love of baseball lying inside of all of us, it just takes a little bit of time for some of us to awaken it.