The Concept of Perfection
The Dodgers had a breakfast a couple of weeks ago to tell
their story about off-season moves and the team they'll put
on the field for 2005. I was there to listen to the new owner,
Frank McCourt, the general manager, Paul DePodesta, Hall of
Famer, Tommy Lasorda, and the Dodgers' manager, Jim Tracy.
They told a good story about the Dodgers and what their plans
are, but the most interesting aspect to me was something that
was said and its application to teaching kids about sports
and ultimately, life.
After the presentation was finished, people from the crowd
were allowed to ask questions. One guy asked about Milton
Bradley and the Dodgers' thoughts on the negative example
that he sets as a role model for high school and younger ballplayers.
You may remember, Mr. Bradley has not always been a shining
example of good sportsmanship and is currently undergoing
anger management counseling as a result. To a person, each
of the four Dodgers representatives, while acknowledging that
there had been problems, defended Milton Bradley as a great
guy who is often misunderstood; as a member of the Dodgers
family, he deserves a second chance and that everybody really
does like him as a person.
The Concept of Perfection
To me the most interesting comments came from Jim Tracy.
Not only did the Dodgers' manager say that Bradley is somebody
he loves working with, he said he is an ever better player
to manage because he is a "perfectionist". I'm paraphrasing,
but Tracy basically said that he loves Milton's attitude because
he never thinks he should make an out when he's at the plate
and he doesn't feel like there is ever a ball he can't catch
in the outfield. He expects and demands that he will be "perfect"
every pitch, every out, every inning, of every game. After
the meeting, I talked to Jim Tracy about this idea of "perfect"
as it applies to kids.
What we talked about was perfection: how is it good for a
ballplayer, especially a child, to expect to be perfect? More
so in baseball, where failure is the expected norm; failing
7 out of 10 times makes you a star. Everybody swings and misses.
The best players in the world regularly walk in runs, and
errors are made almost every game. Why is perfect the right
goal? Jim Tracy had to leave before we had a chance to finish
the conversation, but it did get me thinking about the goals
and attitude we should teach our SportsKids.
The Right Attitude - It's about Control
Why would anybody ever tell there kids to be perfect? Michael
Jordan once said: "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my
career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted
to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over
and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
Babe Ruth had the record for strike outs in a career until
his record was broken by another Hall of Fame member of the
500 HR club, Reggie Jackson. Nobody is perfect!
If you can't be perfect, what is the right goal? In his fantastic
book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven
Covey talks about being "response-able" for your actions.
In sports and in life there are so many things that are completely
out of our control, but we individually have the ability to
choose our responses to each situation - positive and negative.
In essence, you can't control the actions of anybody else
or the results; only yourself. Consequently, the focus has
to be on what you can control.
Surprisingly, my 5 and 6 year old basketball team that I coach
had the answers. Since I was thinking about Milton Bradley
and perfection, I decided to ask some of the kids their thoughts
on the subject. First, each of them is afraid of different
things playing sports. Some didn't want to miss a shot, get
a rebound off their head, make a bad pass or lose the game.
So we talked about Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Kobe Bryant
and others and how they made mistakes too. It became very
liberating for them to realize that they didn't need to do
everything perfect to be a good basketball player.
The more we talked, the better the kids started to feel about
themselves. Realizing that you don't have to be perfect is
a good thing, but does that conflict with what Jim Tracy said
was so great about Milton Bradley: expecting to get a hit
every time at bat and to catch every fly ball? Not necessarily
if the focus shifts from being perfect to doing what you can
control. While my older teams that I coach focused on the
"results" of actions, it was again the 5 and 6 year old kids
who did a great job in helping me understand what elements
of a game can be controlled:
1. Fundamentals - there is no reason that every kid
can't learn to do things the right way. If the coach can teach
a kid to perform with proper fundamentals the results will
follow. The emphasis here has to be on first, the coach learning
the right things to teach, and then, insisting that the kids
do it correctly. Remember: Practice makes Permanent!
2. Focus - Every kid can think and have their head
in the game. Even the kid who can't make a basket can be in
the right place all the time.
3. Hustle - Do your best and put out the most effort
that you can on every play. Every coach should be working
on kids to hustle, play hard and put out effort - not on results.
4. Teamwork - This plays into focus as well, but working
with your teammates is something that every player can do,
control, and excel at.
5. Sportsmanship - There is never any reason to not
be a good sport. This year, I've seen far too many kids saying
"bad game" instead of congratulating the other team on their
effort. Be a good sport - always!
Measuring Your Results
At the end of each game, ask the kids to evaluate their
individual and team performance. You'd be surprised at their
own understanding of how they did. Don't spend time on performance
measurement, but on the non scorebook things that the kids
can control. We can't control the results of our actions,
but if we work on everything we can control, we won't be perfect,
but we will be the best we can be.
Copyright Ken Kaiserman - http://www.sportskids.com
Ken Kaiserman is the president of SportsKids.com
, a leading youth sports website featuring games, sports news,
sports camp and league directories, community features, and
Kid Sports with over 150,000 products.
Ken coaches youth football, basketball and baseball. He also
serves on the local little league board of directors as well
as the Park Advisory Board. You can read and subscribe to
the SportsKids blogs at http://www.kidstore.blogspot.com
Article Source: http://www.hotlib.com/articles
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