Category Archives: Articles

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)

THE CAR RIDE HOME PT-2

THE CAR RIDE HOME (that takes 5 minutes)

2) 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 second 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 you need to keep your opinions to yourself.

Opinions. Everybody has one, two, or a lot to share. You may not think you’ve got strong adamant opinions; you may not think you blurt them out; you may think you have your tongue under control. You may even think, so what, I’m entitled to my opinion and I’m free to express it…

I’m driving my son home from a baseball game and I ask him,

“What did the coach say afterwards to the team? Did he bring up some of the same old stuff again?”

“Yeah he did,” my son said, “and he also challenged me to yell out to the other outfielders to whether they should go back or come in on the fly balls.”

“You always yell out,” I said.

“Yep, that’s what I always do,” he said.

“Did you say anything to the coach?”

“No, I just accepted it because he brought it up in front of the team and I wasn’t going to be defensive back to him.”

This is where I stated my opinion:

“The coach should have asked you first whether you call out or not and then say something after he heard your answer.”

My son said nothing.

And this is where I really stated my opinion and blurted out something derogative:

“Rookie coach error.” I muttered.

I knew it the moment I said it this would not be helpful to my son. He hears enough conflicting information from various coaches at different levels without me confusing the issue more. This wasn’t fair to my son and it certainly wasn’t fair to his coach. I could learn a few things off my son by keeping my mouth shut as he did.

He didn’t let his disagreement with the coach affect him. He didn’t like it, however, he got it off his chest with me. And that was the end of it for him.

Not me. No way. I had to say something in response—something not helpful. I even thought for a moment to bring the issue up with the coach. I would have been calm and collected. But I was about to become one of those parents.

What I should have said to my son at the time was, if you disagree strongly about the issue being raised by the coach then perhaps you can talk quietly with him about it during the week. If you, however, feel neither here nor there about it, well done, you’ve taken it on the chin and you can move on.

I spoke to him the next day and apologised for my arrogant opinion of the coach. The coach deserves every respect and honour; he gives up a tremendous amount of his time and energy to manage the team to the best of his ability.

No one is excused from the responsibility of monitoring our personal opinions. We can freely give them but are they constructive or destructive? Are our opinions beneficial or belittling?

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-1

THE CAR RIDE HOME (that takes 5 minutes)

1) 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 first 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 inspire your child to overcome their fears.

All our children have fears lying deep within them. Some fears are inconsequential. Most will ignore their fears and give little regard to how they affect their game. More than likely, if the fears remain undealt with, they can hold the young athlete back from successfully taking the next step forward or enjoying themselves more in the sport they’ve chosen.

We are anxious to help our kids overcome their fears but often times we don’t get our message across. Why?

Mostly, it is how we deliver our message. We’re not communicating in a language and a weakness that they can relate to.

Yes, weakness, that’s exactly what I wrote. Your child will relate more to you when they hear about your insecurities, your uncertainties, and your human frailties. And when you share them at the right moment they wont just feel closer to you they’ll feel inspired by you.

My son, in the last few years, has been reluctant to dive to catch a baseball because of a fear he would hurt a swollen left nipple. It’s an embarrassing problem a few teen guys suffer with and something that generally goes away as the teen gets older.

He’s a centre fielder and he’s expected to spread himself over the grass to make the catch if his speed can’t quite get him there; most of the time his speed gets him there. However, there is the rare occasion he should have dived but he didn’t. The lingering and undealt with fear can speak quickly: don’t allow your nipple to get hurt.

I shared with him a certain fear I had about umpiring in baseball games. I would flinch when I perceived the pitchers delivery was going straight for my facemask. What hasn’t helped has been umpiring to catchers that completely miss the ball or the ball deflects off their glove and I wear it in the mask or in the body somewhere in an unprotected spot.

I would tell myself: ok Maguire, don’t flinch; wear it if you have to. Still, I was scared about being hit. Until, one day, I was watching an umpiring instruction video and the speaker said: you’re an umpire, accept it, you’re going to get hit; if you don’t want to get hit don’t umpire.

As simple as that I overcame my fear because I faced the fact and accepted it. I resolved that I wanted to be an umpire and part of the job is I’m going to get hit.

I said to my son: If you want to be an excellent baseball player and go somewhere in the sport you’re going to have to accept you’re going to hurt yourself while diving. If you can’t accept this you’ll limit and hold yourself back.

I went back to him a week later and said: I still now and then flinch, yet I simply smile and tell myself to stare at the ball all the way into the mask; I’m an umpire and I’m going to get hit.  He came back to me three weeks later and was beaming: guess what, dad, I dived, it might have been a bit sloppy, but I didn’t hold back.

Mums, Dads, Coaches: Inspire them through their difficulties by being open about your difficulties and fears and how you fought your way to conquer them. You’ll see your young athlete expand their mind and challenge themselves to greater heights.

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)