Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Power of Baseball to Develop Character

Athletic activities for children can contribute to their growth and maturity in substantial ways. These activities are affected by coaches and administrators who manage them as well as other key people involved such as parents, sponsors, and spectators. Baseball is an activity in which its long history and tradition solidify positive standards for behavior and play that are universally accepted(although not universally practiced). Good baseball training is often a successful and powerful means of helping kids develop maturity. It can be a character builder.

Many of the good things espoused in baseball training was summarized by Joe McCarthy who penned the 10 Commandments of Baseball in 1921. At the time, McCarthy was managing the Minor League Louisville Colonels, just before moving on to the Majors where he had a long storied career.

McCarthy's commandments are not just principles for success in baseball, when examined in an everyday light, they can also be principles for success in life. McCarthy's principles have become part and parcel of every good baseball program although few coaches and players are aware of their origin. In their most succinct form, the principles enforce things like hustle, fortitude, self control, and respect for authority. Baseball continues to offer so many life lesson opportunities for kids--both male and female. We need to make sure the right people are doing the coaching.

Consider the following three common gripes we often have about kids and then think of how kids are trained in a good baseball program.

1. Kids don't listen or obey. In a good baseball program, kids learn to respect authority on the field. They must listen to their coaches and the umpire. Those who do not listen, get benched or kicked out of the game. Good coaches insist that players do what they are told. Kids want more than anything else to stay in and play the game.

2. Kids can't concentrate today. Whether at bat, in the field or running bases--players must pay attention at all times in baseball despite the fact that there are lulls in activity. Teammates are trained to remind fellow players of what is going on during a game. Every play is being watched. There is instant gratification on the field to those who hit, steal a base or catch a ball; instant punishment to those who strike out or get caught on the base path. No one likes to hear, strike three--you're out!

3. Kids are selfish and do whatever they want today. Baseball's rules and the regimen of the game make it essential that kids play their role on the team. Players in the field learn to call balls and move away from one that a teammate has called. They learn to sacrifice another player to second and backup a throw home. There is unselfish action all over the field in every game.

In a good baseball program, kids have structure and develop discipline. It helps that baseball principles are so well developed with our coaches. In other activities, this is often not the case. We should be able to carry the success elements from baseball into other activities for kids.

Copyright 2011 Sporting Chance Press. Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles of Success for Baseball (and Life) available online.
Image above from Library of Congress is Christie Matthewson, the Gentleman Ballplayer, consider by many to be one of the finest men to ever play the game.

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