3 Reasons Your Child Won’t Listen To You

Joe Breen, Director of Baseball Operations, RBI Baseball Academy

This phrase is something heard around RBI on a daily basis and a conversation I had with a parent of a lesson last night pushed me to blog about this topic.  At RBI, our instructors work with hundreds of players each which accumulates to several thousand over the course of a season.  While we encounter various skill levels of players we also come across parents possessing various levels of knowledge of the game.  I think one of the best things about our staff is that not only do we have a knowledge of the game but we do a great job of passing that knowledge on like a “teacher” not a “coach.”

While we have many parents who feel comfortable handing their player over to our instructional staff and letting us do our thing, we see many who believe they have enough knowledge to provide their child with the needed instruction themselves.  I see both the positive and negative in this situation. 

The positive is that a father and son working together builds a relationship.  My father was a great coach and I will never forget what he taught me and the manner in which he taught it.  Another positive is that, well, let’s be honest…it saves money!  However, the percentage of dads I see in the cages with their sons who do a very good job of teaching is fairly low (understand there are a LOT who are great, but the percentage is low).  I feel this is for a number of reasons.

#1. Too much emphasis on the “what not to do’s”.  There are times I wish I had a video camera so I could tape the father/son bickering battles as the father yells “stop doing this, stop doing that.”  All it does is remind the child of them being yelled at to stop pulling their sister’s hair or stop chewing with their mouth open.  While the parent is most likely correct, it’s not the best way to get them to stop doing it.

#2. Not enough emphasis on the “what to do’s.”  This is where I feel as though professional instructors have a good place in the development of a player.  I spend most of my lesson explaining to a player WHAT TO DO rather than WHAT NOT TO DO.  I see this as the biggest difference between someone who is a professional and someone who has not had enough personal experience in playing and teaching/coaching the game to teach the proper way to do things.

#3. Tone of voice.  It’s a lot easier for a parent to yell at/raise their voice with their child than it is for a non-parent.  To be honest, I think every player deserves to be yelled at once in a while.  I’m not in support of the whole “babying our children” and “everyone’s an all-star and gets a trophy” movements so a good tongue-lashing can instill discipline if done correctly.  However, I can definitely light a player up (based on age/maturity level of course) without yelling so loudly for all to hear causing an embarassing scene for both you and your player.  This is done typically to a player who you have a strong relationship with and is not displaying the proper focus to get the work done.  I, nor our other instructors, would scream at a player for messing up in a lesson, but I see parents do it all the time.  Once that happens, the player tunes you out and just wants to get the heck out of there.

SUGGESTIONS:  My suggestion when working with your own child would be to concentrate on a 4:1 ratio of positive feedback to negative feedback or as I mentioned before “what to do’s” vs “what not to do’s”.  If I tell a kid 4 things he is doing right or correctly and then mention 1 thing he is doing wrong or incorrectly, he is more apt to hear the message.  As a player gets older, more mature, and begins to perform at a higher level, most of those players actually rather hear what they are doing wrong/incorrect.  They just want to make sure the coach sees what, if anything is “off” in their mechanics so they can correct it. 

Try it!

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One Response to 3 Reasons Your Child Won’t Listen To You

  1. yahoo.com says:

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