Why One Youth Baseball Coach Says Winning is Secondary
From GameChanger and Mark Kern
Playing sports can help children grow up and develop relationships. By going out and competing with their friends, kids create memories and friendships that can last for a lifetime. However, in today’s sports, the game can be taken too seriously by parents who seem more interested in the score and if their child is hitting home runs.
Drew Kraxner, who coaches fifth-grade baseball in Kansas — while also coaching basketball and football at the middle school and high school level — said the first thing he tells parents at the preseason meeting is to understand that wins and losses aren’t the focal point at this age.
“I coach at the high school level, where obviously winning is very important,” Kraxner said. “However, at this age, there are many things more important than wins and record in elementary school.”
More important than wins and losses, Kraxner said, is learning the fundamentals.
“There are so many things to learn in baseball, it takes time to become good at the sport,” Kraxner said. “By allowing the kids to learn and have fun at a young age, it helps the kids to fall in love with the sport and dedicate their time to improving.
“Basically, learning the game makes winning and success more possible in the future.”
Another quality that makes baseball different than many other sports, Kraxner noted, is that it takes a crowd of people to go out and get a game going. In basketball, you can go shoot baskets by yourself, or in football you can practice running routes with just one friend. While you can also play catch with a baseball, the only way to truly learn the hitting and base-running aspects of the sport is to get a game going with a group of kids. That makes organized baseball practices and games all the more important.
Plus, as Kraxner noted, baseball teaches kids the importance of teamwork and working with other people to get something done.
“I went on to play football at the collegiate level, but baseball was the first sport that taught me what it was like to be a good teammate,” Kraxner said. “Those summers out there with my friends are something that I will never forget, and I can’t wait to enjoy this with my children. It taught me the importance of sportsmanship and many life lessons, and I think too many times people are more worried about wins and losses, rather than the life values baseball can teach you.”
Of course, winning is something everybody wants to do in anything in life, not just sports. We all work hard to get to a point in our careers where we feel like we are winning but, as Kraxner said, we also need to remember where we learned many of the lessons.
From GameChanger and Mark Kern.
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