Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lessons From Little League

The Little League World Series has captured popular attention these days, and rightly so. Little League is awesome to watch.

Over the last few years, as a father of two boys, I've really learned to appreciate how special little league really is. Not only is it great to watch (the drama... Will he make the catch???) but also the lasting lessons that the boys (and a few girls!) learn.

Such as:

"Baseball is a game of throwing and catching."

This sounds really simplistic and it is. Our coach tells the boys this when they completely fall apart in an inning. They are down. Demoralized. But really, the game is to make good throws, and make good catches. If the team does this, they likely win. It is a good lesson for future years. Feeling overwhelmed at work or school? Concentrate on the basics. It will get you back on track.

"There is no crying in baseball."

Everyone has heard this one. And it is great. The first thing you learn in baseball is that baseball is a game of failure. Sounds rough, huh? But it's true. Everyone strikes out. Everyone misses a catch. Everyone has a wild throw. Failure is constant, and everyone experiences it. When you fail, do you cry? NO!! Why not? It's just part of the game. And guess what, it's part of life. With my son we have a little handsign we use similar to flushing a toilet. When you botch a play, just flush it. It's good advice. Have a bad day at work? Flush it. You can't relive yesterday, move on.

"2 out rally."

The boys start chanting this when someone is at bat with 2 outs. The game is never over. I've seen so many games turn around, amazingly, even in the last inning. Walk off wins that we thought were hopeless. Even with two outs, get up there and get a rally going. Baseball, and life, are emotional. If you think you will lose, you will lose. If you think that any ups could be the start of a streak, you keep trying. It is an amazing expression of positivity, learned at the age of 7. Some people never learn it ever.

"Let's have some fun out there."

Every (good) little league coach will tell the boys this. "Let me see a smile." In my experience, kids hit better, catch better, throw better when they are smiling and having fun. For reference, watch the teams that pull from behind in The LLWS... Are they having fun? You bet. And isn't this true of adult life? And why not have fun? The game is not over until it's over. There is no reason not to keep your chin up.

"Dig it out."

This is what gets taught to ever kid running for first base. Don't watch the ball, just drop the bat and run as fast as you can for first. Why? YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Many times, they get the ball to first, and you're out. Oh well. But sometimes, there is a bad throw. Sometimes the first baseman misses it. Remember, baseball is a game of failure and sometimes you get the benefit of this. Keep trying, always, because you won't get lucky unless you try.

"No booing, no heckling."

Our coach comes down REALLY hard on the boys when they heckle the other team. This is sportsmanship, and good life skills, learned early. I learned this from my grandfather at Michigan football games. In business and politics, this is a good lesson that not everyone learns. Do your best, but don't spend your time trashing your rivals.

... And many more. Little League is such a treasure. I'm sure I'll update this later when I have more time and think of some more. Email me if you have some good ones.