Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Winning seems to be what sells in travel ball; winning is what drives the customers into the stores (academies/programs) and, of course … drives the MONEY (ka-ching ka-ching). Everybody wants to be on a winning team. Everybody wants to jump up and down and dance around on the infield after the last out at the big game. Everybody wants to go to the “victory dinner” at the Pizza Parlor. Everybody wants to be in the team picture with the trophy propped up out front.
However … sometimes/oftentimes/too many times that means that (some of the) players sit. And sit. And sit.
First off; for you coaches ... (here's a tip: Nobody from the Yankees is in the stands watching you coach because there's an opening at the Triple A level next year). What the parents are paying for (or should be ...) is DEVELOPMENT. If you really are a great coach; you should be able to do both; be competitive AND win games.
The problem with this method of doing business is that when a player sits; what they get better at … is sitting.
As a bonus those players also probably get better at fun things like … “Self Doubt” … “Performance Anxiety” … “Lack of Self Confidence”, etc; none of which contribute to what should be at least one of the major program goals: INDIVIDUAL player DEVELOPMENT.
Baseball is really really really hard. It is hard physically and even harder (much) mentally and emotionally. As well as baseball skills; hitting, throwing, fielding, etc. emotional and mental strength; i.e. CONFIDENCE needs to be taught and learned. A PART OF LEARNING CONFIDENCE LIES WITHIN THE ACT OF FAILURE. Michael Jordan famously said that "The key to success is failure" and also "To learn to succeed you must first learn how to fail."
What we do with our clients at every level; including the professional athletes we work with is to teach them that THERE IS NO FAILURE; only INFORMATION. Thomas Edison, when asked about his failed attempts at inventing the lightbulb; adamantly confronted that notion. "Each attempt is a success. Every time I fail to succeed, I learn how NOT to make a lightbulb."
Without playing time coaches are denying this opportunity to players.
If your son or daughter is CONSISTENTLY playing the BL or BR position (that’s Bench Left and Bench Right on your scorecard) at games and tournaments, YOU NEED TO MAKE A CHANGE. That specific method of pursuing your goals is COSTING you … and your child … big time!!! Drive time, gas; motels, bad food, and watching the game from the bench, will not equal success.
Please do not misunderstand. There ARE great lessons to be learned from the bench; perserverance, preparedness, active participation; yes even … self-confidence can be learned from the bench but … what is the barometer for success and where is the point of negative returns?
However; I'll give you a hint: when you play three games in two days; drive two hours each way; stay in a motel, eat bad food, and watch (let's be honest) teen age amateur baseball for over six hours ... and your kid gets one "pinch hit" at bat; you're being ripped off.
Like the old lady in the commercial said years ago, "Where's the beef?"
You and your child need to HONESTLY assess the current situation and act accordingly.
If your child is NOT going to play; they are better off staying home and taking swings off the tee, ground balls off the wall, or /throwing pitching into a backstop.
Have faith. There ARE potential solutions:
SPEAK TO THE COACH/PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR
Without confrontation, ask where your child REALLY stands in the program. What is THEIR perception of both his current and projected skill level. How does he fit into the team’s plans and goals.
CAN THERE BE MODIFICATIONS TO THE PROGRAM THAT WILL OFFER PLAYING OPPORTUNITIES
Some travel programs have taken actions to make adjustments in the program in order to accommodate individual player development and still win games; the availability of great instructors/coaches, an abundance of practice time for example; availability of scrimmages and extra games, etc. can offer players opportunities to grow.
FIND ANOTHER TEAM/PROGRAM
No playing time is an unacceptable answer. Find a program where your child will play and DEVELOP. The key to baseball success is passion and the Japanese phrase “Kaizen”; the continuous pursuit of IMPROVEMENT.
We have been enormously successful in placing players at both the collegiate and professional levels who were, at one point of development, struggling but continued to work and found success.
Forget velo, spin rate, and exit velo; your passion and work ethic are your most important “tools”. Don't kill it with hours and hours of "bench" time.