4 Game-Changing Tips from a Major League Pitcher

Traveling Sports: A Horror Story

From my experience, boys baseball and girls volleyball parents are the worst, with soccer and basketball parents coming in close second even though they are often the same parents.
          I don’t know if it’s their grandiose expectation that Junior will be a D1 athlete or the extreme amounts of time and money invested that causes them to lose all bodily function, but anyone who has been around traveling sports team knows exactly what I’m talking about.
          I was once carrying on a pleasant conversation on the third-base line with one parent when the next thing I knew he ran screaming to the opposing team’s first base coach because he rebuked his son for purposely plowing into the first baseman. It was mayhem. Ironically, both men attended the same church!

Go for the Gold

Last week we had Pat Combs on the Men in the Arena Podcast to discuss his book More than the Score, writes, “The problem is when we parents buy into a lie. We’ve let youth sports systems have way too much control over our children’s lives.”
          And Pat should know. He was an All-American and Academic All-American at Baylor University, where he was later inducted into the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame. He spent 8 years playing professional baseball and as a collegiate athlete and represented his country in baseball for Team USA where they won the gold medal at the 1998 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Pat is now a behavioral analytics consultant for numerous professional athletes, MLB, and NFL teams.
          Here are the top four game-changers I took away from his book.

#1: What is your sports “Why?”

          Why is Junior playing sports?
          Pat asks, “Why are we spending our treasured time playing these sports? If we can answer this question well, it becomes our barometer and compass. Our why helps define our purpose, and that helps us identify the real wins and losses, those beyond the scoreboard.”
          He continues, “I’ve seen two approaches parents often take with youth sports. First, some use it as training for a potential professional career or collegiate scholarship. Second, some use it as a place to do life and have their children learn valuable lessons. I’d strongly urge you to be in that second group.”

#2: Church and Sports

Traveling sports creates massive conflict between church attendance, often removing kids completely from midweek youth gatherings and Sunday morning worship attendance. To quote past Men in the Arena Podcast guest Todd Wilson from FamilyMan Ministries, “You are a home school parent.” It is your job to teach and disciple your children, and you must solve the dilemma of church and sports or your children WILL suffer.
          Colossians 3:23-24 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible; “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

#3: The Game Belongs to the Children

Pat writes “I believe the game belongs to the children. That’s how we respect it. The right and proper perspective is what needs to be taught, measured and brought to account.”
          You are not only stewarding Junior’s sports venture but ultimately you are the steward of his or her heart and will be called to account for it by God. At the end of the day, IT IS A GAME and it should be fun. Too much pressure is placed on kids by Helicopter Parents who have lost perspective.
          Sports should be fun.

#4: Get Outside of Yourself

Your child’s success is not about you. Do not make the mistake of so many has-been parents who live vicariously through their children. It is not fair for Junior and your glory days are long gone.
          Combs writes, “One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children, especially through sports, is to get outside of themselves. We have seen this massive movement toward self and self-fulfillment become the over-riding thought in mainstream society. It’s nauseating.”

#5 Boots on the Ground: Flippen Flip Flippen

Let’s get our values in line with the Word of God: God first, wife second, and children third. The massive mistakes sports parents make is spending more time, money, and emotional equity on the kids instead of the marriage. In his book, Pat shares a story of when his boss Flip Flippen (his real name) asked him to rate his marriage 1-10, and Pat proudly ranked it a 9.5. Flip took Pat’s phone, called his wife, who promptly rated it a 4 out of 10!
          About Flip, Pat wrote, “I am blessed to say that I have had many more like him, who have spoken truth into my life and held me accountable to a higher standard.”
          Who are the truth tellers in your life?
          How many marriages have ended soon after the kids leave home because the sports parent invested too much in Junior’s short-lived athletic career and not enough on their marriage?
          How do you rank your marriage? How does your wife rank it?

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