Jimmy Cox asked:
These ideas are for managers, coaches, players, and parents. While this is written primarily for the beginner in baseball – the Little Leaguer – the reader will discover that the same fundamentals work in all branches of baseball. The right way to execute a play and the right attitude get the same results in the major leagues as in the Little Leagues, and the wrong way is just as inimical to good results.
The surprising thing is that so many major leaguers make mistakes – correctable mistakes – which proves that we shouldn’t expect too much of boys and that we should always remember that it is human to err. At the same time, we should never lose sight of the opportunity to teach fundamentals of play and of constructive living.
It was Herbert Hoover who observed that team sports are the greatest training in morals, second only to religious faith, and one of the greatest stimulants of constructive joy in the world. We can provide this joy and be a part of it if we realize the potentialities of a program like Little League and make the most of them.
Know Your Players
If you get to know your boys, their physical limitations and capabilities, their environment and their personalities, you will able to help them grow and develop. Thus you may find a boy whose parents take little interest in him and who has limited ability. A little praise will give a big boost to his morale. Remember that boys have a short interest span. Vary your instruction program and keep it fun.
To serve youngsters well, you must know their needs, interests, and ability, and you must know your own limitations, too.
Attitudes Are Important
Perhaps the greatest opportunity comes to the adult leader in developing attitudes. Since his own attitude will be reflected by a majority of his players, it is important that he understand and instruct that the relationships with umpires, managers, coaches, and other players should be a friendly one.
Keep in mind that players should participate for the enjoyment and benefit they derive. Too often the tendency is to shower attention and awards on the talented lad and to ignore the benchwarmer. Achievement is its own reward, and a boy who hits a home run gets sufficient satisfaction from performing that feat. He doesn’t need additional honors.
Too often on the playing field participants develop an escapist complex by blaming defeat on the officials, teammates, or “dirty work at the crossroads”. Youngsters should learn that the best teams don’t win all the time-even when they put forth their best efforts – and that the worst teams don’t lose all the time. There are days when the pennant-winning team gets the bad bounces, all the close plays go against it, and “bloop” hits land between the fielders.
The team that continues to hustle from day to day, profits by its mistakes and learns not to repeat them, and learns to accept the fact that the “breaks” will even up over a season is the team with the right mental approach to the game. It has come to recognize that a majority of games can be decided by good or bad play on the field and by the type of leadership provided, and it conducts itself accordingly.
Develop All Players
You will build morale by developing all of your players – not just the nine or ten best boys. The day may come when several of your players are absent, and you will be in trouble if you haven’t given your reserve players “game experience”. Every manager can find a way to play all of his players at regular intervals, and he will have a stronger and happier team at the end of the season and in forthcoming seasons if he gives all of the boys a chance to play and develop.
The dividends for making these extra efforts to prepare for leadership come to the manager through the privilege of building better boys through baseball.