Category Archives: Articles

The Card Ride Home Pt-6

The final installment in this 6 part series, the entire series can be re-visited in the archive section.

THE CAR RIDE HOME (that takes 5 minutes)

6) The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent / child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better and allow him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can. This is your sixth ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.

Why your patience is a huge key with your child.

A while back I spoke with a high performance coach who also happened to be a scout for a Major League club. He had observed for many years the anxiety parents struggle with as they watch their kids develop in the game.

He asked me to write something on patience. He just wished parents could be more patient with their young athletes and the process. He wished parents could understand that some kids are not skilled or mentally tough enough for professional baseball. They maybe more suited to different levels of college or even being content with being a valuable player in a state team or a club team.

It’s very hard to see clearly where our child sits in the big scheme of things—next to impossible, actually. I find it hard. I like to think I have an understanding of my son but I know I’m blinded. If I applied the odds to my son making it to the top I should be locked up; fancy allowing him to throw away many years of his life striving for a goal that only 6% of those signed professionally ever run onto a major league field. That’s why young athletes are encouraged to have backup plans.

I justify my son’s position: he’s an ‘all or nothing’ guy. I know that’s my characteristic so I don’t know how much it’s me being ‘all or nothing’ for him or him believing it himself. I tell others he’s shooting for the stars and when he falls—as everyone falls at some point—that though the fall will be hard and discouraging, even depressing, family will be there to support him.

This is his reckless adventure.

If my wife and I aren’t patient we will be of no help keeping him on the rails, and he will not listen to our words when we do have something to say.

There must be calmness and a resolute smile about our long suffering. Yes, long suffering, an old English interpretation of what patience means. A parent once said to me, we need to happily suffer together on the sideline.

Be realistic. This sounds hypocritical coming from a parent who encourages his kid on a reckless adventure, but I’ve sort feedback of where my kid sits in comparison to others: skill wise, mentally, and with his work ethic. I’ve been offended by some truths and wanted to be defensive. Fortunately, I chose to say nothing, feel the internal suffering, and take it as positive input for my son to learn from.

Bottom line, if I don’t show patience, if I don’t seek realistic input from outsiders who can observe my son better than me, I am not helping him and am only holding him back. Hard truth to swallow.

Allow your child to become a better you.

Allow your child to find their way.

With patience they will listen to you. With impatience they will ignore you.

Mark Maguire

(You can contact me at maguireonfire@bigpond.com if you would like to discuss your experience or dilemma. I’m always open to learning something new and I’m always open to giving time and thought to help)

The Car Ride Home Pt-5

THE CAR RIDE HOME (that takes 5 minutes)

5) The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent / child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better and allow him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can. This is your fifth ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.

How to ask those difficult questions.

For the first time in my life I recently had the thought my son might of just hit his peak. I dreaded the thought. My world of believing he is going to become a great baseball player was in turmoil.

It came about when I heard of other similar aged baseball players in the USA and Latin America clocking times in their sixty-yard dash that blew my son’s times off the track. Though he is one of the fastest players in this country, over in the centre of baseball universe he wasn’t turning any heads there with his time.

I considered asking him do you think you’ve hit your peak. But I couldn’t ask him that. Does that send a message I don’t believe in him. Surely I can’t ask him that. I know he was still recovering from a hamstring injury when he was recently time trialled and I know he was very disappointed with his time. Yet, I felt like I was betraying him by doubting him.

Though I was feeling confused I didn’t need to blurt out whatever I was feeling. I’ve done that too many times before. I thought about it and decided to rephrase and reframe any questions I wanted to ask.

“What do you think of that time that Dominican kid hit in his sixty?” I asked.

“Very impressive, no wonder the Dominican was offered 5.1mil’,” he said.

“But 6.3, how is that possible?”

“I know, it’s unbelievable, isn’t it.”

“I know your target was 6.4, but could you ever hit 6.3.”

“Dad, get me a sprint coach and I’ll get close to equalling that time.”

“Really, do you believe that you can compete with that time?”

“Yes I do. Speed is my number one tool and I see where I need to be.”

“So you have no doubts about yourself that you haven’t hit your peak.”

“No way! I want to train harder now and get my body in better condition.”

At the end of the conversation I was slightly embarrassed suggesting if he doubted himself. Fortunately, because the conversation was framed around the Dominican’s time, my son took it as an inspiration and something positive to strive for.

Often times, when we ask or tell our kids things it’s out of our frustration. We care; we care deeply; we care too much. We care to the point that clouds our view of what’s really going on. And as much as it is good to ask questions (and not blurt our presumptive statements), if we ask when we are not calm and have applied little thought to our words, it is very obvious the issue is really all about us and not about our child.

It’s ok, we’ve all done this. It doesn’t take much to turn this around. Suffer for a bit longer and ask yourself what do I want my child to take out of this conversation. If it is about you getting something off your chest you’ll only pass your suffering onto them. If you want to pass on calmness and encouragement to your child, make sure you’re first calm and your questions are framed in an encouraging way.

Mark Maguire

(You can contact me at maguireonfire@bigpond.com if you would like to discuss your experience or dilemma. I’m always open to learning something new and I’m always open to giving time and thought to help)

The Car Ride Home Pt-4

THE CAR RIDE HOME (that takes 5 minutes)

4) The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent / child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better and allow him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can. This is your fourth ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.

 At the very least expect THIS from your child.

Theoretically, as parents, we have an unfair advantage of instilling our will and discipline on our kids. Most of us would have no chance if we had to sell our will and discipline to them like one business person to another. That salesperson really has to work to sell their idea or product.

A parent can use their authoritive position to demand the sale… and most of the time the sale to our child is reluctantly bought—I mean enforced.

I’ve tried to enforce my will and my view on my son many times about his baseball. The more I tried to assist—I mean enforce—the more he would resist. By the age of nine he knew, and I knew, and I knew he knew, that he knew much more than I did. He said to me at the age of twelve, “Dad, your job is now to help me with my mind.”

One thing we both agreed upon was one’s attitude towards playing the game. It is easy to tell out there on the baseball diamond—in fact any sporting field—what a kid’s attitude is like by what she or he did: by the speed of running on and off the field; were they watching the coach when they talked to them; did they even listen to the coach… There were always obvious actions one could observe if a young athlete had a good attitude.

In baseball, a simple measure of attitude is how fast a batter runs to first base. A batter hits a ball and by all measures they are guaranteed to get onto first base: do they bust out of the blocks hoping that luck maybe on their side and they are looking at gaining that extra base. Or do they run at 75% with no consideration of getting onto second base.

A batter hits the ball into what looks like an automatic ground out or pop up fly. The batter doesn’t run at full speed to first base; the batter considers themselves a given out. The observers interested in that player are judging the player’s attitude by his or her speed and don’t give up mindset.

Coaches generally want their players to hustle on and off the field; look interested, look alive, look like they want to be there, look like you’re a ball player that cares… Again, this is where a young player’s attitude is judged.

Coaches love a great attitude even over pretentious skill.

Yes, skill can be obvious, but skill with a poor attitude is obnoxious.

A lack of skill, or some bad luck out on the field can’t be helped, but a good attitude will always give hope for a better outcome.

One thing that is never accepted between my son and I is a poor attitude. Whatever team he is on; whoever his teammates are; whatever level he is playing at; no matter if his personal form is down, a good attitude is expected. And this is the one thing that he excels at. So whether he makes it to the top or not a good attitude will help him be successful whatever he does in life.

If you’re ever going to expect anything from your child, if you’re ever going to have those challenging conversations, make it about attitude. Attitude can be measured and seen. You can’t enforce it but you can expect it.

Mark Maguire

(You can contact me at maguireonfire@bigpond.com if you would like to discuss your experience or dilemma. I’m always open to learning something new and I’m always open to giving time and thought to help)

The Car Ride Home Pt-3

THE CAR RIDE HOME (that takes 5 minutes)

3) The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent / child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better and allow him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can. This is your third ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.

How to stop dumping your stress on your kids.

Recently, I spoke to a group of baseball parents while their kids were beginning a Friday night winter program. I spoke about how our stress and anxiousness while watching them doesn’t decrease as they get older but only increases.

The player’s ages ranged from nine to twelve. Every player desired to be there to improve his or her skills.

Every parent desires to see their young athlete perform to the best of his or her ability and hopefully, just hopefully, go on and do something in their chosen sport.

My son is sixteen and he is now one of the young coaches on this Friday night instilling what he has learnt from the game. I told the parents when my son was at the age of twelve I had a chat with him about what he thinks of my yelling from the sideline giving him instruction and trying to inspire him to do better.

My son said bluntly, “Dad, it doesn’t help.” And he further went on to say that none of his teammates liked it when their parents called out. He was brutal in his appraisal and it sort of stunned me.

I thought I made a difference. I certainly did: the difference between my son enjoying the game or not; the difference between him learning from someone else without me interfering; the difference between him having his own pressures out there on the playing field and then also being loaded down with my stress that I unknowingly dumped on him.

That’s exactly what I was doing, unknowingly dumping my stress on him. In my excitement I believed I was helping and inspiring when I was only increasing stress and anxiety in him.

Fortunately, my son is not an anxious kid. Thankfully, because of his mum, he is calm and collected. I wanted to be a part of that calmness and give him a further chance to do well so I decided that day when my son told me, dad, it doesn’t help, to shut up and let him play without my interference from the side.

I asked the parents that first night of winter development to have that brave conversation with their child; ask them if they like all the yelling and instruction from the sideline. I told them there is enough pressure on our kids on the field without having to be burdened with our excitement issues and inability to shut up. *

Nothing gives me more pleasure now than when my son says to me, “Dad, you really helped.” Isn’t that what we all really want to hear from our kids one day. They have the rest of their lives to gain their own stresses without sharing ours inadvertently from the sideline or the car ride home.

* There is NO fine line between cheering and calling out instructions. Cheer your heart out; applaud your child’s effort. Even clap the opposition team. All your child needs to hear from you after the game is, ‘I enjoyed watching you play.’

Mark Maguire

(You can contact me at maguireonfire@bigpond.com if you would like to discuss your experience or dilemma. I’m always open to learning something new and I’m always open to giving time and thought to help)