Last Spring (2021) my wife and I nervously agreed to sign up our 8 year old Ben for Coach Pitch Baseball. Our major concern was COVID but we agreed that since it was outdoors it should be ok. I even got to be the coach for my boys team. The experience was fine for both of us. Ben learned that he liked being a catcher because he got to touch the ball on every play. Overall Ben enjoyed playing but was completely fine when the seson was over. Being with the other kids was fun but he didnt really love playing. Even with this, he proved to be a good enough player that he was put into the 8U All-Star team.
The All-Star league was a completely different experience. Where as the regular league there wasn’t a score, everyone hit each inning, and there were no strikeouts the All-Star games were full on games. The only exception was that the coaches pitched to there teams but everything was little league style baseball. I joined as an assistant coach and helped with practices and games. Honestly, I was a bit nervous that it would lead Ben to anxiety and frustration and maybe hurt his early interest in the game but a weird thing happened – the competition sparked a love of the game.
Ben shared thebcatching duties with another player. They immediately bonded; a handshake was created, they supported each other and started sharing advice and talking strategy. Benny started watching old games YouTube and asking me questions about why the players were doing certain things and the decisions they were making. The team only won one game but only lost the other two games by a run or two. We have a really awesome video of the kids running off the field after that victory throwing their gloves and jumping in each others arms. There was a catcher handshake.
The love has only grown. My little baseball dirtbag signed up for Fall Ball and is currently the youngest player in his 10U league. He is still catching and still asking questions. He made an awesome play on a ball that got past him with a runner on third. As the pitcher caught the ball and tagged the runner out at home plate for the 3rd out he came sprinting off the field with a giant smile and high fives from his teammates.
He’s had games where he strikes out or forgets to slide into home but he recognizes he’s learning. He recognizes that the failure is part of the process of growth. It’s been amazing to see how adding that layer of competition proved to be a foundation of his growth – not a detriment..