- I couldn’t see the ball
- The machine threw bad pitches
- It was going too fast
- It was going too slow
- You don’t help me enough
19 May 2010
It’s amazing what you can learn at the batting cage.
You can learn how to keep your hands back.
You can learn how to keep your head in.
You can also learn all about psychology.
More on that in a moment.
A few days ago, my eleven year old son and I went to the batting cage to work on his swing.
It took him about one pitch to get frustrated.
Ok, maybe three.
That’s how I knew he was my son.
When I was his age, I had the maturity of... an eleven-year old.
So watching his temper kick in feels like I’m watching an old black and white movie get re-made into color.
But this time I’m a supporting actor instead of the star.
God rest the souls of the wooden tennis rackets that lost their innocent lives about 32 years ago by being slammed into the concrete by an immature child.
Come to think of it, I was A LOT worse than he is.
After ten rounds in the cage -- which included me walking away, him yelling at me, me trying hard (and somehow succeeding) to not yell at him, me walking back, me yelling at him and him yelling back -- we calmly sat down in the car to talk about how it went.
At first, it sounded like Happy Hour at the Excuse Bar & Grill:
And that was just the first round.
Now before I continue, let me say loud and clear, my son is a GREAT kid and is quickly developing into an even better baseball player.
He loves the game, respects the game and most of all believes that he is going to be a major leaguer someday.
Just like we all did.
I’m not sure he understands yet the work that it’s going to take to play even high school ball, but I hope that I don’t get in the way of his dreams.
The good news is even after all of our battles, I still believe in him as a player and he still believes in me as a dad.
While we were sitting in my car, I had a flashback to one of my recent therapy sessions, where we discussed controlling what you can control and not wasting your time on the things you can’t.
What a simple concept.
What a difficult execution.
So I asked my son, "when you are in the batter’s box, what can you control?"
“Your swing,” he said.
I asked if he could control where the pitch is going.
My mom once told me, never ask a question you don’t know the answer to.
“No,” he said.
So, then why are you so concerned about the machine throwing bad pitches?
If it’s a bad pitch, don’t swing at it.
Wow, if life was only that easy.
I learned when I was managing people, if you can set up bad news with a nugget of good news, it has a lot better chance of being accepted.
Managing kids is no different.
I told my son that when he kept his hands back and his head in, he really crushed the ball.
Which he did.
I then reminded him that we all have only a certain amount of energy and if we waste that energy on negative things or things we can’t control -- like making the machine throw better pitches -- we won’t have any energy left to do positive things, like crush the ball.
My therapist must be so proud.
I guess all that time I was staring at the wall, I actually was paying attention.
By the time my son and I were done with our conversation, there was so much bonding going on, you would’ve thought Sean Connery and Roger Moore were in the car.
I asked my son if he wanted to go take five more rounds.
Once again, never ask a question you don’t know the answer to.
Ten minutes later, we headed home, as a better hitter and better friends.
I’d call that a home run.