Joined: Jun 2005
My son has blossomed in the past year since graduating to the big field. Literally, he was the last player off the bench on his all-star team from 9 through 12, no matter how well he did in the house league or how much he worked during the off-season. He never lost confidence in himself throughout the years, often contending that he knew he was a better player than many of the starters, but that he couldn't get in the groove with one at bat per game, and sometimes none. He said he felt so much pressure to perform whenever he got a chance, that he could never relax and just play.
Well, he joined a travel team a month after all stars ended last fall with 3 other players from his All Star team and became the star of the team. One player from the old team was constantly riding him all fall, because he wanted to play shortstop and felt he was better, but the new coach saw my son's glove and moved his own son to second and put my son at short. He had the best season of his life at the elite level, playing every inning, and was the top hitter on the team. I was startled by how many of the new parents came up to me commenting on 'what a ballplayer' my son was, and by the confusion and strange reactions of the parents and players from his old team.
This situation was created by his old all-star coach who was, despite taking positive coaching training, very abusive and sometimes profane. He would blame losses on specific players and plays in front of the team, strangers in the stands, family, and friends, while the kids often sat sobbing on the bench. He often would curse and threaten when he thought the kids were out of earshot. Several times they were right behind him without his knowledge and had heard every word. I was a coach, and we had several arguments over this, and I even took my kid and left once, to be talked into coming back by another other coach. He had no confidence in my kid, and my kid did not respond well. Once he even justified his behavior by pointing out that a local HS coach calls one of his players his bench jockey and waterboy. He said babying the kids did them no good at all, and claimed that he treated his own son that way, so other parents shouldn't have any objection to it.
Since then my son continues to thrive. I have been contacted recently by 5 different coaches who all want him to join their teams next season. Our team ended the season early, and another team asked if he he would play with them for their last three tournaments and, after one practice and one game, became their 3rd batter and shortstop, playing every inning.
So here's my question: The only time he has struggled all year is when he faces a team that has kids or the coach from the old all-star team. He is clearly trying to impress them and show them that they were wrong about him, and it gets him out of his natural rhythm. How do I make this learning opportunity pay off for him? I see it as an important step for him to be able to face this situation and be successful. Clearly this situation harkens back to an early age and concious/subconcious emotions. I know he is thinking too much. Any advice? (Sorry for the long post...)