There is a thin line between winning and development

     When I was young and growing up in a very serious, competitive , baseball atmosphere, we played a lot of pick up games. Sometimes, we would play until dark and instead of finishing the game at that time with a winner and a loser, we would just continue playing the next day. Was it a continuing of the same game or the beginning of another? I honestly cannot remember. What I can remember is always learning how to play and compete. I can't remember any scores.


      Now, in these modern days of baseball, it seems that all emphasis is put on winning and losing. In these days of travel baseball, which consist of players from ages 8 to 18, there is a certain amount of prestige to win a tournament and get the recognition. Over the years, the importance of winning a tournament has become contagious and the travel team organizations have benefited greatly. They try to get as many teams as possible in a tournament, and consequently limit games to a maximum time of two hours, and the most detrimental thing is that there is no practice before games.


      Please don't get me wrong, I love to win. Any athlete in any sport goes on the field of competition and plays to win. But I think young players should learn how to play the game first. In order to become a winning player, you have to know how to lose. I've seen times where young kids are made to feel like total failures if they lost a game and that just shouldn't be. There is always positive things that can be learned from a loss. Now once you become a professional baseball player, you are expected to produce and win, but that comes from being able to develop as an amateur and prepare yourself to become a pro.


     I recently heard a story about a father who was coaching his son's team in a tournament and was pitching his son every game because he really wanted to win the tournament. When his son told him his arm was beginning to hurt, his father told him to just toughen up and keep pitching. That is an absolute tragedy and really is a form of abuse. This kid may not only lose his desire to play, but his chance of living his dream of playing professional baseball was put in serious jeopardy. Apparently this is not uncommon.


      I truly believe that winning is a result of good development. A winning attitude is a result of a young player learning that in the process of learning how to play the game, losses are going to happen. But in order to win more games than you lose, you first need a winning attitude, a good  work ethic, and knowledge of the game. So, if you are a player with some talent and have a desire to play at the next level, learn to play the game, and let the results take care of themselves. There is a thin line between winning and development, but if you development well, you will become a winning player,  but there will still be times that you won't lose the game, but you will get outscored. There is a difference.

Talking Baseball with Leon Lee
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