Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

April 11, 2013

MARK MAYNARD: Tips for parents of Little Leaguers

ASHLAND — Little League season is upon us with opening days scheduled throughout the area on Saturday.

Having experienced the joy of Little League some 20 years ago and covering youth (and other) sports around here since the mid-’70s, I consider myself somewhat of an authority.

So, with that said, I offer up some advice not for the little boys and girls who are playing the sport, but for the mothers and fathers who are watching. Especially for the novice parents who are entering this brave new world.

I’ve witnessed overbearing Little League parents and coaches, and trust me, it’s not pretty. Little Johnny and Jill deserve better from Mom and Dad. Don’t let their memories be ones of embarrassment years from now.

I offer this bit of advice up front: Get involved. Little Leagues run on a volunteer basis. If you’re not willing to be part of the solution, don’t be part of the problem. There are a lot of ways to help, from coaching, to scorekeeping, to groundskeeping, to concessions and even to umpiring.

You may think you’re not qualified to do any of that, but I guarantee there’s a job for you. Just ask.

What I’ve found was my involvement showed my son this was an important venture for him. I wanted it to be a great experience for him and his friends. We wanted to win because, after all, winning is more fun than losing. But Little League is there to teach about winning and losing. Life isn’t always fair. We don’t always win.

If you don’t have time to volunteer — and with the pressures of today’s work world that’s understandable — make time to work individually with your son or daughter. My fondest memories of those days are the sometimes hours of catch in the back yard. They’ve written books and made movies about the simple act of playing a game of catch. Not a word needs to be said between participants, but the experience is one you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

What we wouldn’t do for another game of catch with our fathers. Make sure you start making those memories now.

There’s a difference in working with your child and expecting him to be the next Brandon Webb. Lower the expectations. Give it time to develop and see what happens. The more time you put into your son or daughter, the better the skills will become and the more fun Little League will be for him or her.

Respect the coaches. You may not like it sometimes, but the coach’s word is the final word. He signed up for the job and you didn’t. If you have a problem with playing time or treatment, choose a time to speak with the coach away from your son or daughter. Talk to a trusted friend before you set up that meeting. Be calm.

Different coaches have different philosophies. You may understand his philosophy better in a private setting than yelling at him in front of other players, including your son or daughter. These young players are just now learning to respect authority figures and a coach is just that. You should respect him, too.

Be there for your child both at games and practices. Too many times I’ve seen parents drop off their children and leave. They need your encouragement during good times and bad. Watching practices will also help you understand the philosophy of the coach. You’ll be less likely to criticize.

Would you not show up for work and then tell the boss what’s wrong with the company? Of course you wouldn’t. Don’t do that to your child’s Little League coach, either.

Baseball is a game where you fail more than you succeed. It’s a mental game and the best players are the ones whose parents aren’t constantly berating them for striking out or missing a fly ball. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s a game. They’ll forget about it five minutes after it’s over — unless you won’t let it go. I’ve seen players whose confidence is gone because parents constantly harp on the negative. Don’t be like that.

If you have to talk about the game on the ride home, make it about the positives. Don’t talk about the coach or other players in a negative way, either. You are teaching your child life lessons whether you know it or not.

Meet the other parents and don’t create rivalry situations. This is your family for the next two months. Get to know them and their problems and offer an ear or support if they need it. Sometimes people just need someone who will listen. Be that person. You may just find yourself a lifelong friend.

Most of all, enjoy it because the time passes far too quickly. My experience with Little League was a fantastic one, from fun-filled practices to Watermelon Day at the park when we supplied both dugouts with freshly cut watermelon slices. We didn’t win the league every year, but we had fun.

My wish is it will be the same for you.

Play ball!

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Lana Bellamy: Waking up America's youth: 4/18/14

    I once read a quote by a man saying the reason today’s youth do not have the same “spunk” as youth in the past is because they do not have inspiration.

    April 17, 2014

  • Mark Maynard: Let’s just forget about it: 04/17/14

    The older I get, the more forgetful I become. Does that sound familiar?

    April 16, 2014

  • Uncovering forgotten treasures

    You know the big difference between me and a hoarder? I mean, except that you can walk through my house and there are none of the disgusting aspects of hoarding in my life.
     

    April 14, 2014

  • Political stories worth retelling

    With Kentucky in the midst of the political season, it’s time to share some stories I’ve heard about the art of politicking.
     

    April 13, 2014

  • 0413timbizcolweb.jpg Tim Preston: Great salmon; finding Dr. Amy; and more Maria: 4/13/14

    It isn’t an especially convenient location unless you happen to be going that way, and if you don’t get there within the next couple of weeks you’ll have to wait until fall to try it out, but I had the best lunch I can remember last week at one of the last places you’d likely think of when pondering where to eat.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restaurant horror stories; garden planning tips

    In my couponing classes, I always had fun with everyone by telling them gross restaurant stories. In encouraging them to eat at home more and save their money, I was also teaching them how much cleaner it is.
     

    April 12, 2014

  • Feeling happy is ...

    Anyone hoping the Ashland-Huntington area will soon overtake Disney World as “the happiest place on Earth” will be waiting awhile.
     

    April 10, 2014

  • 0410markcol.jpg Mark Maynard: Brick House (South Ashland Florist) brings in $13K so far: 04/10/14

    Here’s a 14-name salute coming your way:

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Cannon: Take this joint, please: 04/09/14

    Some of the things that occurred during our recent week in Jamaica were unexpected and even a bit weird. I suspect those will be the things we will still clearly remember long after the memories of the hours of lying on the beach have faded. I started to mention them in last week’s column, but opted to save them until a later date in the interest of length.

    April 8, 2014

  • AARON SNYDER: March Madness, sadness for Cats

    It’s just another game. That’s the message John Calipari preached profusely throughout the 2014 NCAA tournament. It’s typical coachspeak, but Cal’s young Kentucky team clung to the step-by-step approach to produce atypical results.

    April 8, 2014