I love baseball (long-suffering Padres fan!), but I only played one year of Little League as a kid. My sons, Garret & Taylor, both played. We all had very different experiences, but we all learned some valuable life lessons.
5 Valuable Life Lessons Learned From Little League
1. Swing like you mean it.
This is something I used to tell my son, Garret, and his teammates when I coached their team. Too often they would give a weak, tentative swing. I told them over an over again that – even if it wasn’t a perfect swing – at least swing like you mean it!
The same is true in life. Whether it’s in business, ministry or at home, none of us are perfect. But whatever you do, give yourself to it fully – swing like you mean it!
2. Keep your eye on the ball.
Who hasn’t heard their Dad or coach tell them this? If you’ve played ball at all, you’ve heard it! And it’s true. You can’t consistently hit the ball if you’re not focused on it.
Too often in life – especially these days – we get distracted (which is why I wrote my last post, The Power of Distraction And Tips For Beating It). But at any given moment, we’ve really only got one thing we should be focused on. Just like the ball making it’s way to home plate, there’s something we ought to be focused on so that we can swing like we mean it. Take your focus away, and you’re going to swing and miss.
3. Catch the ball with two hands.
Here’s another saying that everyone who’s played ball has heard. We ought to use two hands when we catch the easy fly balls. Do you know why that is? Because it’s the easy fly balls that we take for granted and easily make mistakes on.
Isn’t that the way it is in life, too? Think back to the mistakes you made in life…I bet that often we’ve gotten tripped up because we were too relaxed or comfortable in a situation, and simply failed to keep our guard up or think through what was going on so we make the right decision. We thought we had it covered, but before we know it, we’ve dropped the ball and the opponent is sprinting around the bases at our expense.
4. Communication matters.
Don’t you love that picture of the three little guys going after the ball? If you’ve ever been around Little League for more than a few minutes, you’ve probably seen something like this happen. There’s no communication happening there! I doubt that any of these kids shouted “I got it!” and I’m very certain none of them are listening even if one of them did call for it. No communication, and whoever hit that ball I’m sure got an extra base or two because of it.
In life, communication matters immensely. It’s important that we work constantly on our communication abilities – and that includes our listening skills. When I coach young leaders I often emphasize the importance of communication in almost everything we do. Relationships, careers and reputations can be built or destroyed based on communication. Communication matters!
5. Not everyone should get a trophy.
When I was a kid, only the winners got trophies. By the time my boys played Little League, it seemed everyone got a trophy. But you know what I discovered? Once they were old enough to really understand the difference between winning and losing, getting a trophy for just being on the field didn’t really do much for them. They seemed to instinctively know that just showing up shouldn’t be enough to be rewarded.
Boy I wish everyone young person today understood this! I’ll spare you a rant, but it’s true – not everyone should get a trophy! Recognize hard work. Encourage and correct. But trophies are for those who excel! In life, raises and promotions and rewards ought to be for those who hustle and learn and apply themselves. You can’t just “show up” in life and be successful in business, grow personally or spiritually, or be a great parent. It takes work, focus, dedication and time.
OK, I better stop before the rant begins. 🙂
What life lessons did you learn from Little League (or any other youth sport)?
(please share in comments below)