Winning is Great, but always focus on the players
We don’t keep score in T-Ball. Every inning each team bats all the way through the lineup scoring as many runs as they can regardless of how many outs the defense accrues. As a competitive natured person I always kept a running total of “outs” in my head that my boys earned each inning and off that, I judged our win/loss. In my honest assessment the boys won all but one debatable game. Because there’s no official tracking of runs, outs, or overall record, it allowed me to focus on getting my kids to experience the game without any pressure. Now, I’m definitely not a “everyone gets an award” kind of guy and I firmly believe pressure develops character. But in the infant state of those boy’s game; they developed a natural enthusiasm for the sport itself, and I had the pleasure to witness it. Before the bullshit, the politics, the competitive edge, I got to watch the purity of the sport, the heart of baseball. The feeling is irreplaceable and indescribable to see a young boy hit his first ball, or score his first run and I watched them find thier passion for the game.
Patience is parabolic
Coaching T-Ball is like herding cats. Some the boys lose interest after the first inning and want to go home, others want to play in the dirt, even the best players try to see the sky through their glove. If you don’t keep two eyes in 12 places, you’re going to lose control of them. But little by little, each game we improved. I got into a routine and I found where each player needed attention. We started looking where we threw the ball, we kept level swings, we always played in the dirt. I found that my patience with them grew as the season progressed. Kids are the most observant beings there are; when they saw that I was relaxed and reinforcing, they went with the flow. That taught me in the aspect of general leadership too; patience breeds comfort, comfort breeds focus, focus breeds performance. Each game came more and more advancement I found myself in rhythm with the chaos. I forgot my worry about getting them dressed and ready to bat as fast as they could, everyone mistakenly will take thier eye off the ball at times, and talent comes with hard work.
Teamwork really is the base of greatest victory
My kids are at the entry level of organized sports. Teamwork is something of which they are relatively unaware. About half the team was 6 year olds the other 5 year olds and I had two 4 year olds (one of which was my boy). We had a couple kids that were very well rounded with fielding, hitting, and throwing. But one two or even three really good kids doesn’t add up to a victory in team sports. Our kids started to realize that it took more than one player to get “an out” on most occasions. They started realizing how to work together to get thier outs. At the beggining of the season there were dogpiles for the ball in the outfield, by the end we were sending one boy and he’d throw it in to a cutoff man. These boys found new friends on the team, they worked together to field and throw, they started to understand the theory of baseball as a group. When we first started I had 10 kids all strangers to each other; by the end of the season, the Braves were all friends and hell of good ball players.
Success isn’t always about victory, but consistency
These boys learned a lot on the ball field. I doubt I’d even be able to start on identifying them all. I obviously learned a lot through them. But the one thing that afforded this learning was constancy. These boys showed up, every game night ready to go. Coaches showed up ready to guide. “Catch the ball, throw to first… everytime”. “Run the bases as hard as you can… everytime”. Being a successful athlete requires showing up. Being a successful coach the same. Giving it all you have every. single. time. For me, being a better father to my son meant making every game come hell or high water (which we dealt a lot with the latter during the start of the season). Every game our stands were full of loving family; these boys fed off of that. They all had someone of whom was proud of them. Someone to walk tall in front of while they were cheered on. It’s not what we do every once in a while that creates our character, its in what we do consistantly.