Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lessons for Starting the School Year Off Right

Kids need to get off to a good start in school. At Sporting Chance Press we believe that sports can help. Rather than conflict with studies and other pursuits, we believe sports can help motivate kids and be used to teach principles that will be helpful in all walks of life. Sports lessons can be life lessons.

At Sporting Chance Press our books serve a purpose, to improve people's lives, to promote the good, but at the same time we want our books to be accessible, entertaining and interesting. Perhaps there is no better book on sports that meets this criteria than our first book: The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) by J.D. Thorne.

McCarthy's principles are simple statements that guide athletes, but also can be used to help kids understand what they need to do to achieve in the classroom. Below is a list of McCarthy's principles and suggestions on how these can demonstrate life lessons for kids when properly "coached" by parents, teachers and coaches.

McCarthy's 10 Commandments of Baseball

1. Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.

Kids learn to hustle in sports. Kids who succeed do; kids who don't hustle, fall behind. Kids who hustle in school will improve their schoolwork and other pursuits.

2. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.

Anything that's worth achieving, takes effort and perhaps more than that, takes some risk. Just like an athlete needs to risk failure by taking the bat off the shoulder to hit, a student needs to raise a hand in the classroom, answer questions on a test, and respond to homework. In sports, kids learn to step up to the plate, it's really the only acceptable action for a batter. Shouldn't we teach kids that they need to do the same in class?

3. An outfielder who throws back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.

This classic sports statement tells us that at some point, you have to cut your losses and look forward not backward. It tells us not to get too clever with our play. In school, if a kids misses an assignment, admitting one's mistake and looking forward is what a student needs to do--as opposed to continuing an effort to dissuade blame.

4. Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.

Just as an athlete wants to maintain self confidence by staying alert during a game, so to should students want to listen, respond and work hard so they achieve. If a student achieves in school, they keep their head up and not down. Like an athlete, a student who feels achievement in the classroom is more likely to seek more.

5. When you start to slide, S-L-I-D-E. He who changes his mind may have to change a good leg for a bad one.

Indecision can hurt an athlete, it can hurt a student as well. A good student will decide on a topic for a paper, meet peers on time in a group project, make time for studying when there is time, and by doing these can control his or her destiny.

6. Do not alibi on bad hops. Anyone can field the good ones.

In sports, the good player admits a weakness and decides to improve--learning to do the difficult. A good student, admits his weaknesses as well and sets out to improve skills and knowledge.

7. Always run them out, you can never tell.

Kids learn to not give up in sports. The extra effort it takes to excel may come at the end of a play, the end of a game, or the last moment of a season. The same is true in school. As the term wears on, it might be tempting to ease up on homework or studies, but it pays dividends to keep going.

8. Do not quit.

Similar to running them out, kids learn to grow in sports by finishing what they start. Kids who quit in sports often find themselves moving from one activity to another--and failing at everything. And just like quitting in sports, quitting in other activities may seem like the easy way out, but often it just amounts to a bruised and battered ego that may never repair itself.

9. Do not find too much fault with umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you.

Evidence in sports shows that players who look outside themselves for reasons for poor play or results are not the best athletes. The best athletes focus on improving their own game rather than making excuses. Sports have also demonstrated that players who get upset or annoyed over officiating are likely to perform at less than peak levels. Only those who can shrug setbacks off and focus on the game do well. Yet how often to people respond in ways that harm themselves and their "teammates" in sports and in life when something seemingly unfair occurs. A student who constantly argues about grades needs to be redirected to focus on what he or she can do to improve--reminding these students of how the best athletes approach setbacks can be valuable. Parents who encourage such arguments over "umpiring" and "grading" might also be advised to look at this principle.

10. A pitcher who hasn’t control, hasn’t anything.

Self control is key in sports. An even temper, steady effort and self control is what leads to success. In life, controlling our impulses and building emotional maturity is key. Despite how some athletes may function in various states of maturity, the best ones are under control.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of J.D. Thorne's The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) and other fine sports books. The 10 Commandments of Baseball is an enjoyable mix of professional baseball stories and the author's affectionate retelling of his own amateur baseball experiences. Whether male or female, young or old, the reader is pulled into great baseball moments that make the baseball commandments come to life with compassion and humor. The focal point of the book is the classic, but little-known, 10 Commandments of Baseball, the baseball principles created by Major League baseball's most successful manager, Joe McCarthy. Image at top of post is from Library of Congress: School kids in Maine.

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