Today’s post comes from Sam Flamont and is syndicated from his site at www.samflamont.com. Sam played minor league baseball for 4 years, and has been giving private lessons for the last seven years. After being a part of the coaching staff at Central Michigan, he now the hitting coach at Davenport University, an NAIA school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sam has worked with a World Series champion, Little League players, and everyone in between. You can learn more about Sam and read his work at www.samflamont.com.
It may sound like a negative statement, but telling kids not to believe their own hype is probably the best advice I or anyone can give them when it comes to baseball. I like to call it “Greatness Syndrome” and it starts from an early age. It usually starts when the kid has proven to be one of the better players on his youth baseball team and usually comes from his or her own parents. I always tell kids your parents job is to tell you how great you are and my job is to tell you the truth. They tell their kids this because they love them and they want the best for them and I do not blame them for that, I just ask that parents take a more realistic approach to giving their kids compliments. Greatness Syndrome starts when parents begin telling their kids they are the best and they brag to others right in front of them. You may think this is helping but more often then not they start believing you and start getting a big head. When they start thinking what you are saying is true, which happens pretty fast since you are their parents and they trust you, the child begins to stop working hard. He will get an attitude with other players and may even stop listening to the coach, because what does he have to learn? He is already great. Kids who acquire this syndrome usually do not handle constructive criticism very well either. When someone tells them they are doing something wrong they simply blow it off or worse yet, tell them they are wrong. This part goes back to an earlier post when I asked how many times have you seen the best player become average and the average player become the best? It happens all the time and it happens because the kid who is the best begins to believe his own hype, where the kid is average keeps hearing his parents say, “Get ’em next time.” Well the average kid is sick of waiting until next time, he wants next time to be now, so he works and works as hard and as often as he can, while Kid Greatness is relaxing by a pool or playing video games. Pretty soon, little by little you start to see a change and what usually happens is around the time everyone hits puberty Kid Greatness is no longer, and the average kid is now the best. It is what happens next that surprises people. Kid Greatness usually quits or makes baseball a secondary sport pretending not to like it as much in order to save face. The average kid who is now being told how great he is plugs his ears. This kid is determined, and even if he hears it, he does not listen to the noise. Kid Average is now Kid Greatness plus he has a work ethic that he developed as a youngster. Remember this is youth baseball and chances are neither of these players play beyond high school, but the average kid with the work ethic is set up for success for the rest of his life, because to him failure is not an option, and he will do whatever it takes to get past any obstacle he encounters. Kid Greatness is set up to be lazy, and yes he can correct this behavior as he gets older it is much tougher to do so.
What I ask of you is to help keep your kid grounded, you can encourage him/her and you can tell them they did a great job, but you can also tell them their is always room for improvement and hard work has no substitute. I am not asking parents to be drill sergeants, I just do not like to see kids who could have been really good, fall off because they didn’t work hard enough due to the fact were told they are great.