As we get ready to roll into high school sports, it’s time to give one last thought on Little League baseball and youth sports in general.
Madison County’s baseball 11-12-year-old all stars fell short a couple of weeks ago in their bid for a state championship.
Even though the loss had its disappointments, the memories and experiences of this year’s all stars will be something the kids will never forget.
I love youth sports. It’s one of the outlets for our youth in a busy and crazy world. It’s an outlet for kids to have fun, but at times it can be a stress issue for the parents. But it’s well worth the stress we go through to make sure they enjoy it.
I remember many great and not-so-great memories I had while playing youth sports growing up. I can remember how a good friend of mine talked me into trying out for Little League baseball despite my fears of a fastball being thrown at me. I was able to experience T-ball prior to that but hitting a ball off a tee compared to the fastball coming at me was a fear I had to overcome.
Needless to say, I gained confidence and ended up being a pretty good baseball player. I ended up playing post legion ball and survived the cut for travel ball teams for several years. Not too bad for a small kid who once jumped out of the way of a fastball. I learned to have confidence in myself on the field as a result from giving little league baseball a try. That confidence led me to join other recreation sports programs such as soccer and basketball and a few others.
I sometimes hear some parents’ opinions on kids playing sports being viewed as a waste of time. Those opinions always tend to get under my skin. What they fail to realize is that there are so many positive for kids growing up that are involved in youth sports. Like playing baseball did for me, it helps gain confidence even if a child isn’t as good as another.
Building confidence for children in sports sometimes can be hampered however by over expectations of parents. In what can be a confidence boost for most kids, over expectations of parents or coaches and the extra pressure can be what causes a child to quit never to step foot on a field or court again.
According to statistics, the number one reason kids quit youth sports is that it stops being fun and the pressure of not living up to those expectations.
I was fortunate growing up and playing youth sports. My parents always turned any of my poor performances on the field into something positive for me with just words of encouragement. I know my dad had to bite his tongue several times while watching me play. I would swing at a ball in the dirt or once threw a ball over the backstop from right field in an attempt to nail a man at the plate; all of which probably embarrassed my dad as much as me.
I could even see his face from right field and as unhappy as he looked, he never let those embarrassing emotions show after the game when greeting me outside of the dugout. Unfortunately, I have seen the opposite with some of my teammates and as a result, they would end up hating the game. Building confidence in our kids outside the lines will help them enjoy playing that much more.
Confidence is just one thing kids learn from playing youth sports. Sportsmanship, responsibility, developing social skills, and staying physically fit are just more positives for kids involved in sports. Sports help our kids develop teamwork and leadership and the importance of what it means to win as a team or lose as a team. As for me, I played on only two teams that actually had winning records. But I had the most fun being part of all the teams I was fortunate enough to make in tryouts. I can’t recall all of the coaches’ names I had while growing up and I can’t recall the different team names I wore on my jersey. But the one thing I can remember is how much fun I had playing and getting dirty on those ball fields back home. I can appreciate that good friend of mine who talked me into trying out that year and the lessons I learned as a result of his encouraging me to play.
In a world that can offer our kids so many things that can destroy their lives, it’s good to know that they have the outlet available of playing youth sports instead. And let’s face it, as parents; it’s an outlet for us as well. I know I will continue to enjoy it as long as the kids do.
Dallas Bordon is the former sports editor for The Comer News/Danielsville Monitor.