The 6 Ways YOU Can Help Your Kid Get More Playing Time
By Garrett Gordon
Youth Parents, This Article is for YOU
In my years as a private instructor, travel ball coach and even as a player, “politics” in sports is something that is unavoidable. Although this is a part of most teams, is this really why your child isn’t getting the playing time they and you think they deserve? We hear it from parents a lot here at Baseball Rebellion that their child isn’t playing because of “politics” on the team. Well, today you’re going to learn ways to help your child break the barrier and get themselves on the field. Here are some reasons why your child isn’t playing and ways that they can improve that.
Realize “Daddy Ball” Happens
Most travel ball teams are coached by volunteer dads who have minimal playing experience or none at all. These parents give
up their free time to help manage the team when they play and practice and should be appreciated no matter what. Sometimes it’s obvious that the kids of these parent coaches are playing at the most sought out positions and bat in the middle or top of the line-up. Does this mean that they are the best and deserve to play there? No it doesn’t, but if they are the coach’s kid, chances are they are still going to get those spots!
At the end of the day, every single parent is biased towards their kid and they want the best for them. Volunteer coaches who have players on the team will most likely be the same way. Therefore the comments such as “that kid only play shortstop because his dad is the coach” are completely irrelevant. These comments are not helpful and shouldn’t be said around your kid because they’ll hear it and soak it in.
As I have said before, every parent is biased towards their kid and that’s a natural feeling to have. But at some point, you have to ask yourself a tough question – compared to the best players on your team or players they play against, how good of a player is your kid? When they are challenged, do they succeed and compete with the best of the best? Or do they continually fail and make no adjustments at all?
If you want your kid to become the best they can be, you can’t always look at them as “your child”. Instead, look at their performance from a coach’s perspective who is trying to win games. If your kid doesn’t perform at the plate, makes errors on the base paths and in the field, what makes you think they deserve to be in the line-up? As your kid gets older, playing time will not be equal, it will not be fair, and it will be based strictly on performance. Are you and your kid ready to handle this realization?
Go Lift, Go Train
Baseball is one of the most dynamic sports out there. Any baseball player who wants to take the game seriously has to train diligently for it, they can’t just show up on game day thinking that they’re going to do well if haven’t done any work!
Each player’s value is determined by five tools:
- Hitting for Average
- Hitting for Power
- Arm Strength
Be honest and identify what needs to be worked on. If your child is small and weak, his parents (you) are on the smaller side, he’s probably going to be small his whole life. Get a trainer and start lifting some weights. If your player can’t hit water if you fell out of a boat, get some hitting lessons. If they can’t throw strikes, and want to be a pitcher, get pitching lessons. Bottom line is that there are ways to get better and there are ways to get stronger. You either go out and find ways to get better, or someone else will, and that someone will be the one who is playing in the game.
Hit or Sit: Being Accountable for Playing Time
No coach has EVER not put a kid in the lineup because they had too many hits. Whether it’s hitting for average, power or a mix of both those who hit in the games will stay in the line-up. Now that doesn’t mean you can just forget about fielding and
running the bases. Making errors in the field and on the base paths is a one-way ticket to the bench, just saying.
At the end of the day, those who bring value to the team and help the team win will most likely play. As your child gets older and older, players who are in the line-up every day pay attention to what they do in their free time. These players are training (whether it be private instruction or in the backyard), working out, and learning how they can keep getting better.
Start instilling these habits in your kid, even from a young age. This goes back to the point I made above. Especially as your kid gets older and older: they have to TRAIN DILIGENTLY if they want to be great! If they don’t want to train to be great, that’s fine, that attitude might just be reflected in their playing time one day. Keep your child accountable for what they want on the field. If they want to play every day on the top travel team in the area, make sure they are working hard to get there. For youth players, it’s as simple as training in the backyard a few times a week (maybe even with Rebel’s Rack!) and doing push-ups/sit-ups before they go to bed. As your kid gets older and older, the players that dominate the game and earn playing time, are the ones that work hard and don’t wait for it to be handed to them.
Control the “Controllables”
Now to revert back to what I was saying earlier about “daddy ball” and the politics of the game. Guess what? You can be one of the best players, have the best tools and still get limited opportunities based on what your coach thinks is best for this team. I
found myself in certain situations in travel ball at a young age and when I was in the minor leagues with the Washington Nationals. This really messed with me mentally because I was working hard, performing in games, and still got limited opportunities. I started to worry about the opportunities I wasn’t getting rather than focusing on the opportunities I was getting. You can only control what you can control. If you only get to play 3 innings in a game, make sure you make the most of those 1 or 2 plate appearances and your time in the field.
Parents, instill this in your player from a young age and it will serve them throughout their playing career and life: Control the Controllables!
As I said above, parents need to be realistic on how good your child is and if they need to get better, get them help. If you are
not willing to get them private instruction or help them train in the backyard, do not get upset with them when your child fails
to perform on the field. To me, that is my biggest pet peeve I see. How can you demand your child to play well if you don’t help them get better?
After you have identified what your kid needs to get better at its time to get to work. The hours and hours spent are not only going to benefit them physically but mentally as well. It will teach them that nothing is given but earned, and that will help them for the rest of their lives. Teach your kid to earn their spot and don’t blame it on politics, because that’s just an excuse. Excuses get you nowhere but the bench and in return leads to frustration. The goal should be to play so well that they have no choice but to play your kid.
- Daddy Ball happens everywhere and at some point to everyone. Accept it and don’t let your player hear you complain about it.
- Be realistic about your child’s ability. Step away from being a parent perspective and look at your kid’s ability from the eyes of a coach that is trying to win games.
- Players are judged on 5 tools, if they are lacking in one of those areas, they need to work on it!
- Players who hit and get strikeouts play. PERIOD. If your kid wants to be one of those kids, they have to work for it.
- Control the things you can control. This goes for both you as a parent of a baseball player and your player on the field.
- Don’t let excuses come out. Don’t blame outside forces, even if you really want to. It won’t help you or your kid.
Questions about the Article?
Reach out to Garrett: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Garrett on Twitter: @Garrett__Gordon
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