The most important thing that we could do as role models for our growing players is show them that we care. We could do this in many ways, and I would like to share with you one way that my father showed us that he was invested in our future without spending much money or even saying a word for the matter.
Most of my playing career took place in the 90’s, and as we are all familiar, baseball facilities and academies were few and far in between. In fact, this was a time when most athletes played more than one sport, which would have made it difficult for businesses that thrive during the “off-season” to succeed, being that there never really was an off-season.
This meant that players needed to make use of their free time in unique ways. My father, being a baseball coach, knew this and was able to put together something that helped us become better baseball players.
One way is to make use of the space and the things that you already have, and here is how that applied to our family.
In our unfinished basement, to the left of the washing machine and dryer, and to the right of boxes of old uniforms and baseball equipment, my father was able to nail an old bed comforter to the exposed rafters as our net. Then he took a tall orange street cone and was able to tape the top so it served as our tee. Lastly, he placed an old dirty plate down on the cement floor, and that completed our tee station. Now we could get our tee work in without ever leaving the house.
Although he would often remind us to get our work in, he never forced us to work out, nor did he hover over every swing. In fact, my father wouldn’t have even had the time to do that being that he was a high school and college basketball official who often did more games than there are days in a week. But we liked this space because it was OURS, and we could use it how ever we wanted and whenever we wanted without the pressure or scrutiny of each swing.
The point here is that we often want to show our players that we care by purchasing inventions and contraptions, sending them to expensive lessons, or putting them on reputable club teams. Although I am an advocate for providing your player with the best opportunities available to you and the most exposure to competition as possible, we need to keep in mind that your son or player may very well remember the little things that you continue to do and did for them in the past.
This is the essence of the mission here at The Baseball Drive. It isn’t to show players that we could do more with less in the past (they have heard that story a million times), but to remind parents and coaches to keep all things in perspective, and that sometimes the smallest act of kindness could make the biggest impression on your player. My father creating a tee station out of scraps for my brother and me in our basement is one of those memories for me.