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If you want to enjoy the ups in baseball, you have to accept the downs

Baseball, more than any other sport, is a game where failure is acceptable. Imagine a basketball player only making 30% of his or her shots. A placekicker only making 30% of his or her kicks. A tennis player only getting 30% of his or her serves in. In baseball a hitter getting a hit 30% of the time can end up in the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb finished his career with 4,189 hits. It took him 11,434 at bats. That means he made 7,245 outs. He has the highest lifetime batting average in Major League Baseball history at .366. That is a lot of failure.
I know as the parent of a young ballplayer that sometimes it is hard on your child when he or she makes an out. My son started playing organized baseball at the age of 4. He played 3 ½ years before he ever struck out. He was very proud of that, but he could not understand why he had never hit a homerun while some of the other players were hitting them. He was trying so hard not to strike out that he was just making contact. Sure he was getting hits, but the players that “rattled the fences” were the ones that got all the accololades. I bought him some baseball instructional videos on power hitting. I went out and bought a baseball encyclopedia to show him that even the best players strike out. Reggie Jackson landed in the Baseball Hall of Fame based mostly on his 583 homeruns. Reggie also struck out a major league record 2,597 times. His lifetime batting average was only .262. That is a lot of failure.
No matter how bad of a game my son had, I always tried to talk about the positives in the game. Sometimes it is hard for a young player to see that just because they went 0 for 4, they could still have a productive game and help their team. His first strikeout was very hard. There was a lot of crying. I tried to make him feel better over an ice cream cone after the game. All of the sudden he stopped crying and asked about “that Reggie guy”. Pretty soon everything was better.
After that first strikeout, something changed in my son’s approach to the game. He started swinging harder and hitting the ball farther. Pretty soon he connected for his first homerun. Sure more strikeouts and outs came, but suddenly he realized that it was OK to fail sometimes. This was a major step in him gaining the confidence to become one of the better players in his league.
Sometimes, we as parents, need to help our kids accept failure. It is a part of life. How many sales people close every sales call. Learning to fail in sports sometimes can carry over into everyday life. Sure it is fun to sit in the stands or in the dugout and watch your child go 4 for 4 and be the star of the game, but we have to remain positive for them when things don’t go the way they want them to.

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