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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