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Thursday, July 15, 2004

What baseball teaches kids, cont'd

Since the first installment on this topic, my son's AAU team has gone 10-3 and gained some composure, a measure of confidence, and a sense that they can influence the outcome of the game by being in it -- consciously. They are understanding the difference between focus and anxiety.
Going on a road trip helped them become a team. Seven games in six days helped them become a team. Spending nearly every waking hour, meals, swimming, and even playing laser tag brought them together. (Oh, yeah, laser tag also sparked some disagreements, but none was permanent; it was a desire to beat each other and not personal animosity that caused some big talk.) Getting contributions from everyone -- literally, everyone -- raised their awareness that it can be anybody's day. A bunt when it counted, a caught liner at third leading to a double play with the bases loaded, a complete game pitched with a knuckleball featured as the main pitch, picking each other up after failure with fist-to-fist recognition. And a pre-game circle without the coaches, where what was said remains in the circle, brought them together. All these things they did on their own, decisions they made sometime, someplace that changed their approach.
Yeah, it's amazing with some wins will do and they still need to be really tested playing against teams that beat them (soundly in at least one case) this weekend, but they decided to take responsibility for themselves and each other and have played with the intention of winning.
It's the steps not the finish line that mark progress, and they are learning that the steps are their own.
One thing is for sure: baseball is a learning experience, every day.