Didn’t Make the All-Star Team? So What?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

Our local Little League has established a new tradition in the years since I served on its Board of Directors. At the beginning of June, lawns signs appear throughout the neighborhood honoring players who have been selected to this year’s all-star team. I’m sure it’s exciting for the kids who were chosen. But I feel badly for the ones who didn’t get a sign.

Whether it was baseball or rec soccer, my kids all made all-star teams when they were younger. In Little League I coached a tournament team for eight straight years. I had a big part in the league’s restructuring of its voting methods so as to make the selections more democratic and transparent. It was always tough choosing the final three or four players because you hated to see anyone be disappointed, but once the rosters were finalized we moved on and didn’t think much about those left off.

So maybe I’m getting soft with age, or maybe it’s because as my children got older some of them did experience major disappointments in their athletic careers, but whatever the reason, it makes me sad to think of a boy or girl who was hoping to get one of those signs and didn’t. Who has to see it on a friend’s yard every day for the next few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for the abolishment of all-stars. I recently read an article on a popular youth sports-related website basically shaming leagues for picking some children for all-stars and leaving others off. The author suggested that everyone who wants to play should be allowed and that they should create as many teams as necessary to accommodate them all. Then it wouldn’t be all-stars, would it?

Instead, here is the message that I would like to convey: If you didn’t make it at age 10, you can make it at 11. If you didn’t make it as an 11 year-old , you might at 12. And if you didn’t make it at 12, guess what? I’ve seen dozens of kids who were the best players in the league at 12 but who, by the time they were 16, had been passed up by others who were not as talented a few years earlier.

Turn this disappointment into motivation. Make it your mission to improve so much that they have to pick you next year. Or the year after. Don’t give up. Be determined to make believers of the doubters.

Often in youth sports its a lot about size. Kids who are shaving at age 12 have a huge advantage over youngsters years away from puberty. Some 12 and 13 year-olds are fully grown. Others won’t grow until high school. But if you’re a late-bloomer even that can work to your advantage. Many big, strong, full-grown pre-teens don’t work hard because they can have success without effort. This is one of the reasons so many of them are overtaken later.

Or maybe you are of average or even above-average size but your skills need improvement. Either way if you really want to be good at something you can be. You just need to practice. And this is true for anything, not only sports.

So if you’re truly disappointed about not making the team this year I do feel badly about it. But not too badly, because from my new perspective I realize you have the power to do something about it. Understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a kick in pants is a step forward. Use this to light a fire and start working harder than anyone else. Just wait and see where you are next year, the year after and the year after. And, if you aren’t willing to pay the price – to do what is necessary to become the best you can be, then I guess you weren’t really that upset about not getting a sign after all.

Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

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What are you going to do this weekend?

Got an all-star tournament to attend? Going golfing on a warm summer day? Maybe a swim at the beach? Tennis anyone? Whatever you do, around the chores and sleeping in, make sure to get out and get some sports and exercise in. When Monday rolls around again you’ll be glad you did. Enjoy your weekend!

Controversy in Tee Ball!

We get that everyone loves their kids and the first time through sports we don’t always understand the importance (or lack thereof) of what happens in games between five and six year-olds. Here is an example. A Little League District Facebook page posted a Tee Ball rules clarification. Reading through the comments it is clear to see what occurred and that not everyone can let it go.

Little League District:
TEE BALL RULES UPDATE: it has come to our attention that there is some confusion about some types of defensive plays in Tee Ball. The issue is a little technical, but to make a long story short…CLARIFICATION (in short): Any defensive player in possession of a ball ruled in play may attempt to legally put out any batter-runner or runner.  This is not an umpiring issue – this was a well-intentioned comment on player development by District representatives as a response to a question during the pre-tournament umpire clinic. The umpires were doing what they were told were the prevailing approved decisions, and they have been informed of the clarifications for all future games. All prior games, whether impacted or not, are final. The games were called equally for both teams. We appreciate the opportunity to learn this game of baseball in front of this community, because sometimes it is hard to keep it all straight.

Post from Individual 1, sharing with Individual 2:
those 3 outs would have counted

Individual 2 replying:
Wow!! Oh well. Now we know for next year.

Post from Individual 3:
So what does this do for the games that have already been played. Rules should have been clarified before the start of this tournament. It is unfair for teams to prepare to play and rules are not carried out across the board. I came to watch games on Saturday, and when it was time for our team to play on Sunday the rules were completely different, and the same umpires were there. This is unfair to the kids involved. This clarification had it been done BEFORE the tournament started would have made a difference in the games. It is unfair and something needs to be done. A conversation needs to be had regarding these games and implementing rules. You can’t post a clarification 2 days into a tournament and say all games are final. What are we teaching our kids if ADULTS can’t take ownership. This is a District issue that needs to be fixed soon.

Reply from Little League District:
I appreciate your statement. It was a pleasure to talk to you today, and I look forward to meeting with you soon to continue the conversation.

 

Checklist for all-star parents

It’s that wonderful time of year when all-stars come around. The fun, the excitement and the memories can’t be beat. But there is also a tendency for parents to get over-the-top wrapped up in the team and make what could have been an enjoyable experience a contentious ordeal. Several years back we published a checklist for parents to guide them through the all-star process. Are there any additional tips you can add?

Have a great weekend from CoachDeck

We hope your weekend includes lots of fun sporting events with the kiddos! All-star games are starting and summer tournaments abound. Let’s be positive, supportive and encouraging parents. Remember, you can’t go back and do it again!

Can you tell it is June?

June is when youth baseball leagues around the country gear up for all-stars. And that means parents everywhere are wringing their hands and pacing their floors worrying about whether or not their child will be given a chance to try-out and be selected for a team. No time of the year brings more concern about fairness and nepotism than all-star season. Don’t believe us? Check out what some of the top search terms were just yesterday for people who found their way to this blog: what to expect at little league all star tryouts; how to pick a little league all star team; little league – how many players on all star teams; definition of a little league all-star; little league all star selection.

We encourage every league conducting try-outs to have as fair and transparent process as possible. Simply having league officials and team managers convene and pick teams and announce who made it on the league website is a sure way to create confusion, hurt feelings, uproar and accusations of impropriety.

Youth baseball all-stars are coming

And you want to be ready. Ready as a player, fan, parent and especially a league administrator. We always recommend establishing clear-cut guidelines for selecting these teams prior to the season so that there are no misunderstandings, (read: cries of foul play and nepotism or cronyism), but if your league hasn’t decided completely how you are going to pick your all-stars, here is our take on the best way to do so. Good luck this season in those fun and exciting all-star tournaments!