Care More/Care Less
You're reading this, so you care about something. Maybe it's baseball. Maybe it's coaching. Maybe it's both.
Anyhow, thanks for caring enough to read. Hopefully as you read through this brief article it will grab your attention a bit and impact the way you coach.
The title "Care More/Care Less" doesn't really seem to make much sense, but it makes more sense than you might think. Let me do my best to explain...
I've been around baseball my whole life. I started swinging the bat and throwing the ball before I got out of diapers. Because I was around baseball so much I was exposed to different people along the way. Different types of players and different types of coaches. Different umpires and different people's parents.
Sounds like pretty much every other kid playing the game right? Nothing special.
In this lifetime that I have spent around the game of baseball I have been exposed to some pretty cool stuff and some pretty shitty stuff.
The cool stuff: playing pro baseball for 7 years living in different cities across the country, being a part of some cool teams, getting drafted by my childhood dream team, being a professional all-star, playing in the CWS, playing for UNC (my childhood dream school), getting cool awards in college and high school, and traveling around the country with my dad playing the game as a kid.
The not so cool stuff: getting yelled at by parents in the stands (mine and other kids' parents), lectures in the car ride after every game as a kid, getting yelled at by coaches (especially on youth teams), getting punished when I was giving it my all, being misunderstood by coaches, being ridiculed by teammates and coaches (middle school was a bitch), losing friends as a kid, all the injuries, and this is just the short list I can think of on the spot right now.
If you're a coach or a parent, you probably already care a lot...about something....but what?
Do you care about winning? Good. You should care about winning.
Do you care about kids being respectful? Good, you should care about their attitudes.
Do you care about the game of baseball? Good, you should care about the game you're coaching.
Do you care about kids playing hard? Good, you should encourage that from them.
Do you care about kids getting the best information? Good, you should care about that.
My message is that you need to care more about the players than anything else. Care more about the kids than the game. The kids' emotional and mental well being is more important than winning.
Care more about the kids than being right. You don't have to prove you're right to the kids, especially if you actually are right.
Care more about the kids than winning. Winning isn't everything, it's fun, it's important, but not at the expense of a kid.
Care more about the kids than your desires for them. You might want them to be the best player in the world and they just want to play for fun. That's ok. They don't have to be Bryce Harper.
Care more about the kids than playing the game the "right" way. There is no "right" way to play the game. Encourage hustle and a good attitude but don't demand they play the way you think the game should be played just because you think it should be played that way. Ever seen Javy Baez no look tag at second? It's a game, a fun game.
Care more about the kids than errors. Kids are going to make errors. Big leaguers make errors. Yadier Molina has 6 errors so far this season and he is one of the best catchers in the bigs! Let them make their mistakes and help them learn from them. Don't demand perfection and don't coddle them.
Care more about the kids than the numbers. Game Changer is killing youth players because you have too much access to their stats at an age where stats are meaningless. Their numbers do not matter. Don't get wrapped up in the numbers. Most pro players don't even look at their numbers because it gets in our heads.
Care more about the kids than beating the coach of the other team. Yep, put your disgust for that coach aside. Teach the kids how to play the game with dignity. If you're trying to stick it to the coach on the other team because he took your girlfriend in high school then you're not teaching your kids a good lesson.
Care more about the kids than the feud you have with their parents. You can hate a player's parents all you want. But don't allow their stupid mom or dad to screw it for them. Understand that kid is an individual too and they are not the one you are upset with. Don't let your ill emotions for their parents spill over into them.
Care less about stuff that doesn't matter.
Care less about the temporal things that are right in front of you. These kids aren't going to remember winning states their entire life like you hear people saying during speeches. You always hear that one youth coach try to pump players up by telling them "this is something you guys will cherish and remember your whole life." I hate to spoil it for you, but I don't remember much from playing youth baseball with regard to trophies and tournaments we won. And I hope a kid who wins a tournament at 12 years old isn't still basking in that glory 20 years later.
Care less about being the best. Yes, being the best is awesome and being the best is something players and teams should strive for. But some coaches and parents care way too much about it and who suffers? The kids.
Care less about the umpires making bad calls. Yep, stop caring so much. When has your insane caring over an umpires poor calls ever really helped much? All you do is get yourself pissed off then teach kids a pretty crappy lesson. I remember one of my coaches at 12 years old choking out an umpire. It didn't help from what I can remember and all it did was make me lose what little respect I did have for my coach. Umpires are going to make bad calls. Get used to it and compete in the face of it.
Care less about pleasing everybody. You will never please everyone. Kids will get mad. Parents will get mad. Umpires will get mad. You will get mad. Stop trying to please everyone because you never will. Make the best decisions you can with the information you have and roll with it. There is so much information available to us today that you really should not be uninformed about many decisions you make.
Care more about the important stuff. Care less about the less important stuff.
Make youth baseball better.