Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Tough Losses

There are many different ways to be associated with a team. Of course you can be a participant, coach, friend or relative, fan, and of course, video guy. And no matter which role you play, there will be that one time you walk away frustrated at some part of the game.

It doesn't matter the level, there are always frustrations. And coaching a group of first and second graders in t ball not only is fun and rewarding, but I have also had my time of frustration.

I won't call out anyone by name, and I will try to keep this positive, but tonight was a tough game to coach. My team has a core of players that have been together my three years with the game. We have improved over time, but most important, we have had fun throughout the years. The first two years was a sense of playing the game while hitting of the tee. This year it is coach-pitch and we are encouraged to coach them in preparation for the next level. However all but two of my 12 team members are playing their first season at this level and are still maturing their skills.

But tonight the level of play was raised to new heights and the expectations of that team were much greater than I expect out of mine. Its a preference and either are fine. My philosophy is making sure the players are solid with their fundamentals while having fun. That was important with our opponent, but their coach reminded me tonight that, "we are preparing them for play at the next level."

An example is the first inning. Our more mature opponents were able to get three outs before my entire team had a chance at the plate. On their third out, they raced back to the dugout leaving my team to ask why they didn't get their turn to bat. Approaching the coach rules were pulled out to inform me that is how the game is to be played. Of course this is game 7 of the season and this was the first time we adhered to that rule. Other times we were cognizant of it, but gave our opponents the courtesy of batting through. "Three outs prepares them for the next level," was the reasoning I was given. My reply, "At-bats prepare my team for the next level!"

I am also beginning to notice a different performance level between the two different age groups of this t ball league. My team has mainly those exiting first grade with two leaving the second grade. The team we played this week as well as the week ago were much more mature than my first graders. Mature enough that I had to pull many of my players 4-5 steps further back than they normally should play. Tonight's team had big kids who could hit the ball, and my younger team's reaction time was slower concerning me of their safety if a ball was connected squarely.

My team did well, but it is very frustrating to watch them play to a lesser level of their counterparts. It is also disappointing to watch these 7 year olds wonder why they didn't get their opportunity to bat. The best my Rays could do for outs in one inning was 1 unless you want to count those we got out on the last batter.

Next week I hope to return to play a team more comparable with mine. Those games are fun for my kids as well as the parents to feel better for their sons or daughters that they may not be hit by a line drive. As tonight's was closer to self-defense than preparing for the next level.

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