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Sunday, March 26, 2006

What is coaching? I was talking to one of the parents after the game today (our second in 24 hours) about coaching. She said her son liked having me as a coach because "Coach Jim always has something positive to say." I enjoyed hearing that comment, but it naturally came from a team mom. My own sons would not say that of me. I can be very critical of their behavior. That's one of the key differences between parenting and coaching. When I'm coaching, I always try to stay positive, to put the best face on things. When a kid strikes out, I tell him "You'll get him next time." Our goal as Little League coaches is to get the best performance out of our players during a game situation. In Little League, there is always another game, another chance. In Little League you can always improve your performance and "do better next time." In life, there many situations where there is no next time. When a beloved grandmother dies, she is gone. If dad loses his job, the family may have to move. Parents have to deliver bad news and help their children adjust to the truly terrible blows life can deliver. If your child is in an advanced language or math program and is failing, you need to pull him out. If he tries out for a sports team and doesn't make the cut, that's too bad. The lesson has to be "You just didn't make it." He will have to learn to accept the failure. In high school, the great funnel of our capitalist meritocracy starts to winnow out the winners and losers. Our children take a big step towards adulthood. Some are going to flunk French or get shut out of the popular social cliques. Some of them will have acne, become overweight or even develop drug problems. Enough negativity. I've got to turn in. We've got a practice on Tuesday and a game on Friday.

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