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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Mark H
    That would be using the gun the wrong way. I suggest reading anything you can find on the impact of immediate objective feedback in terms of motor learning. If you like I can give you a starting point.
    Mark - how do you mean "That would be using the gun the wrong way?"
    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.


    • #62
      I'm saying I agree with you that letting the gun generate a display of one upsmanship is a bad idea. Using it consistently during individual training for immediate objective feedback is consistent with motor learning research according to my experience and reading.


      • #63
        Originally posted by Mark H
        I'm saying I agree with you that letting the gun generate a display of one upsmanship is a bad idea. Using it consistently during individual training for immediate objective feedback is consistent with motor learning research according to my experience and reading.
        We agree...
        "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
        - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.


        • #64
          This game will really humble you.
          Tonight my boy had another game. We lost.
          He pitched and to be honest it wasn't pretty. His fastball was a good ten mph slower (at least but I didn't have a radar gun there). I could not see what he was doing wrong. The only thing I could see was that he seemed to be pushing the ball instead of throwing it.

          In the end I may have gotten caught into the trap of thinking my boy is better than he really is. That is dangerous. He's having a pretty good year but not near as good as I think he should. In all honesty I have to say it is my fault. He simply needs a better coach than me (I coach our LL team).
          I think he is probably playing at a good 50% level of his capability (in my opinion). One thing I'm having a problem with is attitude. Last year he had a lot of success and was far and away the best player in our area for his age. This year he's doing pretty good but he isn't doing great and his young mind can't seem to accept it.

          I"m at a loss at this point. I've decided it is best (at least for now) to relax and let him have fun this year. When this season is over I"m going to see what I can do about getting him on a traveling team so that he can get a better coach.

          I justified my coaching by saying I was giving him a lot of time. I wondering now....actually, I'm "realizing" that time simply isn't enough. Although it is important go give our kids time I think at some point we (or should I say "I") have to step back and let someone else teach him the things that I can't teach him.

          So we lost tonight but maybe I learned a lesson. Just let the kids have fun and stop saying we have the next Chipper Jones or Greg Maddux. When you tell a kid that he is good then I think you put too much pressure on them.


          • #65
            Originally posted by Sparksdale
            In the end I may have gotten caught into the trap of thinking my boy is better than he really is. . .
            Sparks - not "may have gotten caught," it's "DID get caught." We all do it. I did it with my two boys (Both now adults) and have seen hundreds of parents do it with their kids. I learned a long time ago you can't supress talent. If he's truly good and he wants to learn - he'll shine. All you can do is influence his journey.
            "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
            - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
            Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.


            • #66
              I agree Jake. What I am seeing now is he is still a good player but the other kids seem to be catching up to him.

              I'll be honest. The single biggest problem I am having with him is attitude. His first at bat tonight he struck out...he wasn't the same (It was the top of the first inning). In the bottom of the first inning he came up to pitch and his mind was still on the at bat. The umpire of tonight’s game was terrible, the worst I have ever seen. Never the less that is baseball and I tried to tell my boy that it is just something a baseball player has to deal with. When he struck out the ball hit the dirt in front of home plate and the umpire called it strike three. I don't want to bash the umpire because he did his best, but it was clear he made a lot of mistakes. Somehow I have to get through to him to learn to accept the highs and lows of the game. Last year he finished the season with a .933 batting average and was the best pitcher in this area. So last year was a lot of fun to him because he was so successful. Hey, it’s easy to play when everything goes your way.

              Let me tell you where I am at: I've never said that my boy was my son...he isn't. I am his granddad. My wife and I have pretty much raised the boy since he was born. Both his mother and father are drug addicts and about three years ago the court sent him to live with us for the boys own good.

              So in a nutshell this kid has been through about as much hell as you can imagine. Two years ago I signed him up for baseball.... he didn't want to play at first. Well, one thing led to another and after the first practice he loved it. He took to it like a duck takes to water. What we (and all the other coaches) quickly realized was he has an incredible arm.
              I’m not talking about just a good arm for a kid his age…I’m talking about an exceptional arm. He is very small for his size yet he can stand in deep center field and throw the ball to home plate in the air. He could do this at nine. I realize many kids in the country can do this but realize that there are no kids in my area (at least that we have seen) that could do that at nine years of age. It took me about a year of working with him to learn to throw strikes but once he did he really took off as a pitcher. He started having a lot of success with baseball and it was a way that he and I bonded. Baseball for him and I is more than a game. It is an escape from reality. It’s a way for us to come together.

              I swear my boy is the most competitive kid (or person for that matter) that I have ever seen in my life. He has always been this way about everything he does. In baseball if he isn’t the best he gets mad and it affects the way he plays. I don’t mean just a little mad either - he really can’t stand it. I’ve never in my life seen someone so competitive.

              I don’t know, I guess I’m just a little frustrated tonight as well. I really like the idea of getting him on a traveling team. Hopefully a traveling team will have a better coach. I would really like to see what my boy could do with a good coach. So I guess you can say I’m more down on myself. In some way I think I am letting him down. He deserves better than me and I just do not have the knowledge to give him. I’ve bought all the tapes and read the books but that isn’t near enough.

              So I’ve said my peace. I love this game of baseball, but it will humble you. Just when you think you know all the answers you realize you don’t even have the questions yet.
              Last edited by Sparksdale; 05-11-2006, 10:10 PM.


              • #67
                Originally posted by Sparksdale
                I'll be honest. The single biggest problem I am having with him is attitude. His first at bat tonight he struck out...he wasn't the same
                I wouldn't fret too much about this, it's pretty normal. I have had the same issue with nineteen y/o's.

                Originally posted by Sparksdale
                I don't want to bash the umpire because he did his best, but it was clear he made a lot of mistakes.
                Last night we won a game in the bottom of the 8th. I had a man on third - ground ball to SS the other team turned a double play to end the inning. Ump called the runner scoring safe - Game over. Ump bailed before we could discuss. I hate winning on a terrible call - but like you said it's part of the game.

                Originally posted by Sparksdale
                Let me tell you where I am at: I've never said that my boy was my son...he isn't. I am his granddad. My wife and I have pretty much raised the boy since he was born. Both his mother and father are drug addicts and about three years ago the court sent him to live with us for the boys own good.
                First of all God bless you for what you're doing. I wish you and your grandson all the best...

                This does make what you speak about different. The social and emotional dynamics between a grandfather and grandson is different than father/son, the former usually having a healthier perspective.

                Overall, if your grandson is looking at ball as something he really enjoys I would do whatever I could to accomodate that. Baseball may be his way of dealing with the issues life has presented him (and you). If you can keep it fun it may be the best thing for him....

                War Story Alert:
                My sister who is ten years younger than I am and in her 40's found herself unexpectedly pregnant. Her children were in HS and she was not looking to raise another child, but you have to deal with what's dealt. Not wanting to put her boy in day care she asked my parents to watch Brandon. My 74 y/o dad, found himself watching Brandon daily in the twilight of his life. Long story short... the two have become inseperable and Brandon has taken to my father's second love (mom being 1) golf. At four y/o brandon can hit a ball 100 yards and he parred his first hole the other day. Dad couldn't have been prouder.

                He puts as much into Brandon's golf as he did my baseball - somehow though -he and my nephew are having a great deal more fun at it than dad and i did.

                Good luck - keep us posted...
                Last edited by Jake Patterson; 05-12-2006, 06:39 AM.
                "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.


                • #68

                  Let me echo Jake's blessing about what you're doing for your grandson. And, the additional information suggests that their may be a whole lot of other authority issues you're dealing with, since I'm guessing his parents were not consistently the responsible, "always there for me" grown-ups that kids need. Quick question: is the County or Court that awarded you custody offering some kind of medical (or at least counseling) assistance? It seems to me he should be given the opportunity to get counseling to deal with the issues that may well be festering within him.

                  New thought. I'm going to project big-time here, but bear with me and feel free to disregard my theory here. I've found that kids can sometimes go in different directions when they sense that a dad-type really wants them to do well in baseball. Some -- particularly those who've enjoyed success and feel that they've generated some stature for themselves -- stay with the program and work hard.

                  By contrast, others realize that the Dad's desire for them to succees gives them some power over the Dad, and they resist the idea of practicing, or use it as a lever. I know I'd reached that point when I suggested to my son that we hit the batting cages and he said he would if I bought him some knicknack or other! I've seen other kids do it as well. And, I think the risks of kids "extorting" something from you in return for him undertaking the hard work to improve his game increase when you focus on the results rather than on the fun aspects of the baseball experience.

                  This too suggests that you might want to retain the services of a local professional coach type -- around here, it's a guy who graduated from our league and is now a skilled college player -- to try to improve his mechanics. This addresses both your concern that you're not a good teacher, and will motivate him to follow the advice that you may already have given but that he's not listening to you the way he should.

                  I'm feeling even stronger than is reflected in my earlier post that you should avoid getting hung up in the day-to-variations in his skill levels. Particularly if he's so competitive, you'll simply encourage his fits of anger at lack of successes. And, even something that should be as innate as pitching speed will vary dramatically from one game to the next -- sometimes the necessary will and the mechanics are not there, and it's easy to aim or push the ball. We have one 11-year old with a great arm but who's been in a bit of a funk; without the necessary fire, he's throwing just average speed, and getting lit up. It'll come back.

                  I'm a little concerned about your comment that you're worried that he's not as good as you think he is. Who knows where he'll end up as a player? All you can do is to give him the skills and desire so that he'll be "close enough" when the critical high school years come around. The important thing is that he's good enough for the two of you to invest your energy into it, and he can learn some life lessons about making use of his skills (including leadership skills) in a team setting.

                  Good luck!

                  sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.


                  • #69
                    First I didn't realize I sounded that way when I said I was worried that he isn't as good as I thought he was. Ok, this was my point. I swear as bad as this sounds I thought he might be the next Chipper Jones or Greg Maddux or what ever. In other words my expectations for him were too high (my fault). I can still see that he is better than the other kids around here but man I tell you I really messed up in my own head. Let me tell you what I "hoped' would happen our last game. Now this is bluntly honest but I feel it is necessary to show my point. I honestly thought he would throw a no-hitter our last game. That was foolish of me to do that and I feel I need to work on my own emotions more.
                    In our game he pitched all 4 innings (time restrants would not allow us to play six). We gave up six runs and lost 6 to three. My boy only gave up three hits and four of the runs that scored were due to errors that my young team made.
                    See what "MY" problem is? In reality he pitched a pretty good game but in my own mind it wasn't good enough. I realized this last night and I really got down on myself for being such a fool. This was when I realized he needed a better more experienced coach.

                    The truth of the matter is it is almost impossible to coach your own kids. HE thinks because he is the best player and my kid that he should be allowed to do what he wants. Now this is pretty normal for a 10 year old but he does take it to extremes. Now again, he is growing up so he has a lot to learn in life.

                    Oh, and regarding the matter of his work ethic. I tell you the boy works very hard. I have a big back yard and he is out there everyday trying to be the best he can be. Not a single kid on my team does this other than him. I mean my boy really wants to bet the best. The problem is that when he doesn't do well it really gets to him and his mindset. I'm sure a better coach could bring out the competetive part of him and teach him how to deal with the pitfalls of the game.

                    As far as getting a counsler. I would love to but my wife doesn't agree. Actually, she is a psychiatrist and she doesn't think he needs it. She and I vastly disagree on tihs matter but the wife is always right you know.

                    So we are doing the best we can with him.

                    I do wonder how I would react if my father was looking at 20 years in jail and my mother was caught with drugs as well. No wonder the kid is messed up...he really doesn't have a chance. He is so good in sports that I hope this is his way out.

                    So, I'll do the best I can and I fully intend on getting him at the next level next year with a better coach. I wouldn't mind sitting in the stands chearing him on for a few years.
                    Last edited by Sparksdale; 05-12-2006, 04:53 PM.


                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Sparksdale
                      ...he really doesn't have a chance.
                      Based on what I've read I think he has a great one. Don't underestimate the power of a grandparent.
                      "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                      - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                      Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.


                      • #71
                        when i was ten i threw around fifty, now im the ace of the team 2 years later


                        • #72

                          I suspect that we are of similar age, (I'm pushing 60 pretty hard) but I started later than most and have been coaching my almost 13 yo son for six years. I started coaching because no one else wanted to. Since then I've spent a lot of time and a fair amount of money figuring out what and how to teach kids and specifically my son. We've had our ups and downs in trying to balance teaching and coaching against letting him have fun. I, like you, started out thinking this is a kid who has star potential. He is pretty athletic, but I have no idea whether he has potential beyond HS. This is his last year of LL and I don't think I'm bragging in saying he is one of the 3 big studs in the league this year, and he doesn't yet weigh 90#.

                          There were times when I was convinced that I had ruined him for baseball because practicing was just about the last on the list of things he wanted to do. We would practice during regular team practice and then practice when there was just me and him. But, the bottom line has always been that I tried to teach him and the team the right way to do things, rather than just relying on the same stuff we all heard as kids and still hear from an awful lot of coaches. It's important to keep up with the latest info and the internet has been an incredible resource for me. I would never have stumbled across people like Steve Englishbey if not for the net. I am just beginning to realize how much I, my son and our team have gained from him.

                          But, I stray. My point is to just use your best judgment as you go along, and to keep your priorities straight. Even though my boy is a stand out at this early stage of baseball, and a good athlete in other sports as well, he is clear that grades come first and that music, acting and other extracurricular activities are important also. (He maintains a 95+ average in school, plays a decent trumpet and is one of the go to guys for the school's acting and singing teachers when they are putting together a musical or play)

                          But, baseball is our one big shared experience. After LL season this year he has decided to play on one of the 13-15 BR teams in the area rather than AS. This will be the beginning of the end of my pervasive involvement in his coaching. I'll still be around, of course, as long as I'm able to pick out his weaknesses and help him improve, but I'll no longer be the No. 1 authority figure.

                          I feel at this point that I have accomplished my two big goals. I've helped him develop a real love of baseball that he can carry with him forever, and an understanding of what it takes to go after and achieve whatever he wants in life. Just keep it all in perspective and teach the kids the best you can, and it will all work out.


                          • #73

                            Actually, I'm 41. My stepson is the one who is the father of my grandchild. My wife and I have pretty much raised our grandson since he was born (I wouldn't have it any other way).

                            Congratulations on your child doing so well.


                            • #74
                              We got a phone call last night from a coach of one of the local 12yr old teams (Remember my boy is 10).
                              The twelve year old team is going to be short a player this coming Thursday and they called my boy and asked him if he would play.

                              I talked to my boy last night about this. My words were this...I told him not to expect to much when he played this game because the 12 yr old boys are much bigger. I told him he should be proud just to have been asked. Out of all the players around here they called my boy to fill in and I told him that he should consider that an honor and it shows how well he has been playing and what the other coaches around here think of him.

                              We are excited as well as nervous about the game. I don't know about where ya'll live but the there are 2 or 3 boys on the twelve year old team at least six feet tall (all of them are pitchers). My boy is 4' 8" so he will look very small out on the field.

                              Personally, I doubt he will hit off these guys, after all they do throw much harder and a few of them "know how to pitch". Mainly what I would "love" to see out of my boy is how he stands in the box when he bats. If he strikes out then that is fine. I just hope he doesn't back out of the box. If he gets a hit then you guys will hear me yell all the way from where I live ;-)

                              He has played in one other game with the 12 year old kids. He didn't get a hit but walked and he stood in the box that day against the best pitcher in this area. We have a local kid that is 12 who everyone talks about and he pitched the day my boy played. This kids threw hard but my boy stood in there and didn't back out of the plate. I have to admit that my boy was pretty late with is swing when the other boy threw a fastball but that was to be expected. He had never batted agaist a pitcher that threw within 15mph that fast before. If I were him I would have been scared out of my mind but you should have seen my boy that day. He had a smile on his face that was as big as Texas. I think that is what seperates the good players from the average. Good players thrive in tough games and they want the ball.

                              Oh well, looking forward to Thursday.


                              • #75

                                A word of caution. It is against LL rules for a kid to play on more than one LL team at a time. He can play on travel or other organizations' teams, but not another LL team.


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