Often players get wrapped up in worrying about things over which they have no control. The want to hit .400, make the All Star team, get a college scholarship and play pro baseball. The accomplishments are a byproduct of the process, not a given reward. Baseball is about the journey, not the destination. I think a young man should play baseball to learn lessons in life, individual striving for excellence, discipline, a work ethic, dealing with failure and resilience.
The reason anyone should work so hard today (in baseball or anything, for that matter) is to strive to have the maximum amount of success and fun possible tomorrow when he gets on the field to play the game again. His preparation should focus on being successful in that next game. Any possible big payoff down the road, like a college scholarship or playing pro ball is beyond his control. Even his high school team may be very strong, or the coach may not think he is good enough. College and pro scouts also may not believe he has what it takes to succeed on their level. He can’t control their opinions. But today, he is on a team. Tomorrow he has another game. He may get to play and he works to be ready to have success tomorrow if granted the opportunity.
A ballplayer’s preparation must not consist of just opportunities that are offered by his local league, his team, or his school. Those opportunities are not enough, both in time and level of development to help him get the most out of his raw abilities. Imagine for a minute if the violinist who gets a solo in the school concert just practiced in her orchestra class. Is that enough time to bring out the talent she has? Of course not. Likely, she too will not become professional in her musical pursuits. But in both cases, parents and coaches should stress that home training and practice is where you bring out more of the talents you have inside, whether its for math, music, or baseball.
In his home training program, your ballplayer will need to hit off a tee in the garage or basement. If he pitches, he will need to throw a bullpen in the backyard and Dad, you can help by catching his “pen.” You can throw him “Pickleballs” to him in the backyard. He will be able to develop a short and consistent stride on the ball of his foot, keeping his weight back, not blend his stride and swing and to execute rotational swing mechanics when hitting the ball without any one to help.
Frequent and focused work in a home training program is empowering. When he steps into the box in a game, he is empowered with the knowledge that by golly, he has EARNED the right to have success. He has the mental edge. He worked to EARN the success and fun he will be enjoying today.
Baseball is about the journey, not the destination. He may or may not play out all his dreams but when it is all over, he will be a man who has learned to work to be the best that he can be. Those memories of the journey shared with Dad will last a lifetime.