by Christie Perkins
I have learned a great deal about coaching kids through others. Sometimes kids fall. Sometimes they mess up. Sometimes things don’t go quite right. Our response is crucial to their learning process of who they are. Of the many great coaches we have had in life, one moment stands firm in my mind. I feel impressed to share it with you today, not last week like I was going to.
Someone needed this today.
We all have coaches in life. Sometimes we are the coach. Sometimes we are the player. I learned something great through one of my boys’ baseball coach. I believe it is key to how we coach our kids, especially when they mess up.
It was pouring rain. But we were playing ball anyway. Too many games have been cancelled this year already. And since the game started out dry that was good enough.
I huddled under layers of blankets with the denim quilt as my oversized poncho and hair destroyer. Lovely. The afghan wrapped around my arms and legs kept me mostly warm with frequent blasts of cold air finding its way through the holes.
Sly comments about a holey blanket in this mad weather kept coming back to me. Again, and again, and again… and I could see the obvious mistake. They were absolutely right.
Psh! I chuckled at the irony. They could all see the holes. I didn’t.
I peered through my 20 pound poncho. Denim’s heavy, especially when wet. The score was 2 to 2. We were tied with the biggest, baddest, team in the league.
There was one out with a runner on second, sneaking his way to third base.
I could identify my guy out in the field (though the rain fuzzied his features a little) he was the shortest one. The batter sent the ball sailing to outfield. My 13 year old ran up and stuck out his glove like he had done before, always catching the ball.
But this time was different.
The ball dropped millimeters in front of his mitt sloshing in the grass below. He picked it up and chucked it in. Every mom knows what’s going through their kids head’s at this moment. It was evident by his actions. His shoulders dropped, he closed his eyes, and turned around slowly. He was beating himself up.
If we could at least get a glimpse of the stars to align the mitt just right, things would have ended up differently. Our minds knew the fairy tale ending of this moment: if he caught the ball he could toss it in to second and get a double play, ending the inning at a stand still, with the score at 2 to 2.
But that didn’t happen.
Self-inflicted brash comments about the gaping hole on the end of his mitt kept coming back to him. Again, and again, and again…and he could see the obvious mistake. These comments were absolutely right.
He could only see the holes in his efforts. If only he took one more step further. If he reached out his arm six inches. If, if, if. Argh.
At the end of the inning and several more runs in from the opposing team, the mistake was even more evident in this young boy. He jogged in from outfield and passed the coach who hollered at him, calling him by name.
He knew he was in trouble. He knew how he had disappointed and messed up and changed the game. He could clearly see all the holes. They were blasts of cold air to his confidence.
He cringed and answered back, “Yeah?”
He knew what was coming. It was obvious the words that would blast him. He could almost synchronize his thoughts with the coaches words.
Then, coach surprised him. I’m sure he could see how he was already beating himself up. I’m sure he has mistakenly worn an afghan in a blustery rain storm.
“Good job,” he said.
Good job? But, didn’t he see the mistake? Good job? Coach was the warm fuzzy on the blanket, not the hole.
How is it possible that the coach could think of that when he couldn’t shake the mistake from his mind? Coach could see how he had caught other balls in that inning. He wasn’t focusing on the one mistake. He saw all of the good that he did in that inning. That comment was not what he expected.
But it was what he needed.
When all my boy could see was the holes, coach didn’t. Or at least he didn’t acknowledge it. And that made all the difference in the ride home from baseball that day.
So in the many innings we play in life we must step back and see the good. One bad moment is just a moment. One. That’s it. There are plenty of other good moments to pick at. Choose carefully the situations you choose to see and you will successfully build and inspire confidence.
I know, because instead of staring solemnly out the window on the ride home, he was smiling.
We all know where we fail. Choose to see and point out the good. Thanks coach for seeing and focusing on the good. Thanks for building my kid up. And thank you to all of the many coaches that my kids have had and have made a great impact on who they are. These coaches are teachers, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, Sunday teachers and scout leaders. You all make a difference and are answers to prayer from a mother who knows the internal struggles of her children.
Thanks coach, you taught me something I needed too. It was clear he knew his mistake, when situations arise I’ll focus a little better on the effort they make, not mistakes. Thanks for teaching me this little gem.
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