It's funny as you get older, how the things you do as a parent emulate how your parents raised you as a child. My pops was involved in a lot of our activities growing up. Baseball and scouting were the two biggest activities for my brother and I.
We played spring ball, summer ball and at times, travel teams. Dad pitched in when he could. When we weren't practicing with a team or at a game, we'd hit the local field with pops to mess around. That meant we'd sit in the outfield and he'd loft them out there to us. We'd switch, grab out bats and head to home plate. Pops would toss the ball our way, making it harder for us to hit with each pitch. One of us would bat, the other would shag. We'd do this for hours, until the sun went down and the street light came on.
As far as I can tell, Dad wasn't much of a ballplayer. He was athletic, but he wasn't Ted Williams or anything. He knew enough about the game that he taught us all the basis and then some. Pops was competitive, which meant, we were competitive. We hated to lose. Losing sucked and we were downright miserable when we lost. As a kid, I remember sulking in the back seat of the car, crying because I was so pissed.
The one thing I remember, though, is the long practice hours being fun. It wasn't work. Dad didn't put pressure on us to be the next big thing. He didn't yell at us if we missed a grounder. He was just there, helping out.
Fast forward quite a few years and I'm coaching two teams -- my youngest's and my oldest's softball teams. The rules in softball are slightly different, but the game is virtually the same. The way I coach is also the same way my Dad approached the game with us. I make it fun.
Throughout the years I played ball, the coaches that I seemed to respond to and wanted to play for, made every practice and every game fun. I hope do to that for my teams.
Whether it's high fives for a job well done or challenging the kids to a game of toss without any drops for five minutes, I want them to know that I'm there to not only teach them about the game, but teach them how to play together and enjoy it.
Sports are only fun if you're having fun. I know that sounds like a bunch of horse shit, but it's true. If the kids don't respond to you, don't respect you or don't listen, you're not doing your job. If the kids follow all your drills, call you "coach" and generally do what you ask them to do, then you're doing something right.
I guess what I'm saying is that coaching isn't complicated, but if you don't put enough "fun" into effort, you and your team won't have fun either.
After all, isn't that's what sports is all about?