10 Lessons from Travel Baseball

We opted for travel ball over Little League for our youngest son for several reasons, not the least of which was to up the level of play by being on a team and playing against teams filled with high-level players. What a great season, not without loss and disappointment, but filled with great instruction and new friendships.

As the season progressed, I was struck by how what was yelled during games by coaches, parents and even the players themselves, has great correlation with how to live a life of excellence.

  1. Get dirty! While this may be a mother’s laundry nightmare, getting dirty in baseball generally means a player went all out to make a play. Sometimes in life, we need to “get dirty” in order to make a real difference.
  2. Make a play! Making a play can change the momentum of a game. When we find ourselves feeling stuck, sometimes the only way to break out is to do something out of the ordinary.
  3. Keep your eye on the ball! One of the most common mistakes at this level of play comes when a player takes his eyes off the ball. They key point is focus. When we lose focus, we often fail to achieve a goal.
  4. Shake it off! While certainly less common as the season progresses, mistakes do happen. Someone drops the ball, or strikes out or gets tagged out. The best approach when a mistake is made is to admit it, learn from it, and move on. Don’t let it snowball.
  5. Down & ready! One of the most embarrassing moments in a baseball game comes when a player sees a ball too late to stop it because he failed to pay attention. Being down and ready shows a player is ready for the ball. Life sure throws unexpected struggles at us all the time, but many trials in life also come as surprises simply because we weren’t prepared.
  6. Everybody moves! When the ball is hit, every player needs to move to his assigned position. While the ball may not come to you, being ready and in position is often half the battle toward winning the game.
  7. Put it in play! Hitting a baseball is probably the hardest task in all of sports. A player who gets a hit half the time is considered a good hitter. At this level of baseball, simply putting the ball in play presents a solid chance at advancing around the diamond. In life, some seasons are survived simply by putting yourself in play and seeing what happens.
  8. Get there! These boys sure do throw the ball fast, so getting to base often requires being extremely fast. All out effort is often needed to just get to first base. What would happen in your life if you gave all out effort? What progress would you make?
  9. Be a wall! One of the position my son enjoys most is catcher. The catcher must stop every ball from getting by him to prevent players on base from stealing. Hopefully, the mitt stops the ball, but often the catcher’s body must stop it. Some seasons in life certainly require that we stand firm, not letting negative circumstances derail us.
  10. Smother it! Another phrase relating to catchers, this means covering the ball as it hits the ground in front of you. For me, some days come filled with needing to protect my time, my family and my faith. Some days, I simply need to smother what’s important to protect it from getting away from me.

Through the basics taught in travel baseball, these boys (and, if we’re teachable, the parents too) have a solid foundation for becoming better players and individuals and for achieving great victory in baseball and in life.

DISCUSSION: Any advice related to applying the above tips? Any tips to add?

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10 thoughts on “10 Lessons from Travel Baseball

  1. 11. Practice does not make perfect.. Perfect practice makes perfect. You have got to put the time in but that time has got to be spent right.

    12. Root for your team mates. Never say a bad thing about them.

    13. Don't let the other team see you sweat. Keep your emotions in check and rely on your training, skills, team mates, and coaches.

    14. Be prepared.. before every play know where you are going with the ball if it comes to you.

    15. Play your role to your best regardless if you are on the field or on the bench.

  2. I really like all the points, but when I reread Mark's final one something hit home. I am no longer, "on the field" so to speak, but I have a new role. Even as a team I was not the player, but the cheerleader in the stands, not the ones out in front. And I still love sports and root for my team, in this case anything UW Wisconsin team, GB Packers, Brewers, well I am after all from Wisconsin!
    God asks us to give our best. To do all we do as unto HIM….I have found that baseball can teach us a lot, Tom Tarver used it and now you Kari. Keep up the good messages of inspiration and instruction…we all need them to help us do our best, to be prepared for those surprises that can cause us to become emotional and not function at our best. God Bless MJM

    • We tell our son to "do your best" before every game he plays in and even during practices, while doing homework, etc. That's all God asks and all we can ask of him as well as of ourselves. We also love the movie Facing the Giants, and our son often says the phrase "If we win, we praise Him. If we lose, we praise Him." Definitely application that works in baseball and any sport as well as in life. Thanks Mary. The Truth of God's Word is the only way I've found to combat my flesh and emotions.

    • Go Pack Go… Here in Virginia my children Levi, Jessi, and Esther are all Packer fans. Levi and I and Jessi and I have both been to two games at Green Bay. I am a Vikings and Saints fan.

      • How did this turn into a Packer's Fan Club? Maybe I should change the focus of my blog :-) Just kidding… Actually, my oldest likes the Packers too (and they are in my top 5). He only likes the to bug my youngest, who is a Lion's fan.

        • LOL… I did not know there were any Lions fans!! Whose your favorite team? My daughter had wanted us to go see Brett Favre's retirement game honoring him so I set that all up and of course that was preempted by him signing with the Jets but we had the tickets so we still went and of course it was Aaron Rogers first game as the Packers starting QB so now she is glad of that she was at his first game.

          • Um, I have to root for the Lions. I AM from Michigan, and I started rooting for them in the Barry Sanders days. Just hoping… Maybe his son will join the team one day and finally make it happen. I also like the Packers, Bears & San Francisco. Did like Denver until they cut Tebow. May have to change that top 5 spot to a team out east :-) But my favorite team is any team that beats Dallas!

  3. Excellent summary of baseball and life. If your son gets "Be a wall" down, he'll be an exceptional catcher.

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