Getting to the heart of youth sports: more than just a game
That is very clear in the book I am reviewing today, Gods, Gloves, Pop Ups, & Ponies: A look at the character found playing youth baseball. Author Chris Smith tells how baseball affected his life and how he is now giving back to the sport he loves by coaching young players.
Chris grew up playing baseball and in the book tells the story of how his team made a run for the Pony League title in 1975. Along side that experience, he tells about his own experiences coaching a high school freshman baseball team in Colorado.
But Chris’ story is not just a mere recounting of baseball events, it is a look into the heart and soul of competition–how it affected his life and how it is affecting the lives of the young boys he now coaches.
Chris doesn’t just see athletes; he sees kids who need help growing up. And he knows that just as baseball helped him mature, it can also help the young boys he coaches. “I am back on the baseball field as a coach of boys searching for some meaning in the throwing of a baseball.”
And I think it’s fair to conclude that Chris has found it.
There are so many nuggets of wisdom in Chris’ book, it is a worthwhile read for any parent or coach. I want to share with you a few of my favorites:
- For many of us, the sports fields of our youth were the training grounds for many of our character building moments. On those fields we were able to make dumb mistakes and try out the new understanding of who we are or want to be.
- The power of the game is the ability to teach us aspects of life by allowing us to succeed and fail in the relative safety of the field.
- In this over-busy fast-paced world of ours we tend to organize the fun for our children to the point where they rely too heavily on their parents for their next life experience or boredom-busting fun. We do not empower, or better yet, demand that our kids take ownership of their fun.
- For a kid to really find the joy in sports, they need to find it on their own.
- When a boy (or girl) needs a schedule to announce when it’s time to have fun, then we have lost the route to joy.
- The motivated player of average ability will win out over the complacent phenom more times than not and most assuredly over time.
- Leaders are most often developed and created when a team plays poorly. It is easy to be a stud and leader when the score is in your favor and you are pounding the opposition….Character is created in times of stress and chaos. Rarely is a leader forged from the glow of victory, more often it is from the chaos of a runaway inning or an inopportune error. Who steps up when times are tough?
- The trick is create a lasting self-confidence which doesn’t require the fantastic play in order for the person to feel alive and in charge.
- The majority of kids are walking bags of nerves, fears, and doubts which have to be propped up and pushed forward and guided to the realization that they are okay.
- We all doubt ourselves at one time or another, but it is what we do about it that separates the winners from the scared.
I did a lot of highlighting when I read Chris’ book. Probably because he makes very clear what I’ve believed all along. We say to our kids, “It’s just a game.” But in reality, sports has the potential to be much more than “just a game”; with proper guidance and support, it has the power to build character and shape a life.
Yes, this is a paid review. But I stand by my promise to only review products that will help sports parents and their young athletes have a better youth sports experience.
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