As he got a little older, I noticed the stains required some more coaxing to remove. And I soaked some more. I tried pretty much every laundry detergent on the market. I used dish soap. And bars of soap. There was the baking soda and vinegar soak. And yes, I even scrubbed those stains with toothpaste! Back in the little league days, I could typically use one of these methods, or several on some days, to get the stains mostly out. I found using a combination of scrubbing with a good liquid laundry detergent, then pre-soaking in the baking soda-vinegar mix, and washing normally worked best to remove stains and odor.
Ahhh, the sweet bliss of naivete I should have known it was too good to last. Not to mention that I now had three sons playing baseball several days a week. But I still wanted them to look like I made some sort of effort, and of course, I had to try to get out some of the odor, or I feared the uniform might actually start walking around on its own. At this point I was frustrated and at a loss for what to do. Until one life-changing afternoon on the diamond.
I was chatting with another baseball mom and we started talking about the uniform issue. Honestly, when she first said it I swore she was joking. It sounded like some made-up language. This was a kid who played hard for the entire game, and always looked just as dirty as my own boys after nine innings. Either she had a huge secret stash of brand new pants and gave her son a new pair for each game or she was definitely onto something.
But, like any good skeptic, I had to try it for myself. First, the soap was easy to find- I had my choice of heading to CVS, Walgreens, Home Depot, or my local family-owned market to pick up a bar of the stuff that was going to solve all of my dirty uniform problems. Armed with my new secret laundry weapon, I headed home to scrub some uniforms. Now let me begin by saying I was not about to spend an hour scrubbing every single stain out of three pairs of pants.
My goal was simply to remove the most offensive stains in the shortest amount of time possible. I started by wetting the pants with some warm water and then went to work. I scrubbed each stain for about a minute with the bar, then rubbed the fabric against itself to really let it work its magic. Then I left it to sit for a few minutes while I worked on the other 2 uniforms. This is what the stains looked like after a little bit of scrubbing with the Fels-Naptha.
After that, I threw the uniforms in the washer with my regular detergent boosted with a cup of vinegar in the fabric softener compartment and a cup of baking soda in the basin and waited for the cycle to finish. The stains I treated were gone, and the pants actually looked presentable for a change! And it didn't require a lengthy process to see the results. I literally scrubbed the stains for about a minute. Those stains disappeared just as easily as the fresh ones.
The best part about it? Fels-Naptha is simple to use, inexpensive, and effective. I felt like I had wasted so much time and money on other stain-removal techniques, none of which were nearly as effective as the Fels-Naptha. I encourage you to check it out for yourself, and let me know how it works for you! Every day there is a new challenge, a new worry, a new issue to address. And parenting athletes comes with its own set of demands. Are my children working with the right trainer? Attending the right events to be seen by the right college coaches?
Sure, it's fun and exciting to watch your son develop and have success on the field, but there is a lot of hard work, tremendous sacrifices, and a number of struggles along the way. Now if your teenagers are anything like mine, their favorite words are "fine," "good," and "not much. I get it- they have long days and a lot on their plate between school, sports, friends, girls, college plans, social media, eating right, getting enough sleep I definitely do NOT miss being a teenager, and kids today face more challenges than we ever did.
They are being pulled in a million different directions, so it's not surprising that the last thing they want to do is spend what little time they have talking to us about anything. Here's the thing- whether they want to admit it or not, they need to talk, and there are certain things we need to know in order to support them as young adult athletes. The biggest surprise was the fact that all three of my boys expressed a need for regular open dialogue between athletes and parents.
Throughout our conversation, they reiterated the fact that it is vital for parents to really know their kids. Clearly, athletes DO want to talk, it's just about finding the right times to engage. For example, Jake addressed how parents should handle times when kids struggle versus when they are playing well.
He said the key is to "read" your child; that is, recognize the cues he is giving you about what he may need and when. He said if your son gets into the car and immediately puts on his headphones after a particularly bad game that's a sign that it's not the right time to talk.
Maybe he needs space to decompress emotionally and process what went wrong but he may be ready to talk later that night or the next day. On the other hand, some kids may leave the field, hop in the front seat and begin breaking down each play, so it really is a matter of knowing your child.
And when he's playing well? Give him feedback but don't overdo it. When parents are excessive with praise it loses effectiveness and can eventually lead to bigger issues when your son hits a rough patch. I'll admit, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement when your son is playing well and getting attention for his on-field success.
It can be equally difficult not to internalize things when your son struggles. Do they want and need support and advice? Do they need us living vicariously through them? There is a dramatic difference between being supportive and being over-the-top. Michael said it best when he replied, "I just want you guys to keep things as low-key as possible.
Stay even-keeled and be subtle, especially with your praise. Have a positive attitude, let me know you are always there for me and that you care. Let me handle the rest. He's reminding us that success is a result of personal dedication and drive, which can only come from a passion within a player, not from what a parent wants. We always tell our kids we can't want it more than you because that is never a recipe for success. Speaking of success, we need to talk about the difference between being proud of your athlete and bragging about every single achievement. It's a fine line, and one the boys made clear you do not want to cross.
Certainly, we have every right to be proud of our kids.
They work hard and devote a tremendous amount of time and energy into developing as players. We spend time and money helping them achieve their goals. But celebrating every single accomplishment is a recipe for disaster. Posting every amazing tidbit of their sports career on social media is embarrassing, and no matter how well-intentioned, comes off as bragging. The boys made it clear that major achievements- a college commitment, playing in an elite national or international event, making an all-conference team, even hitting your first home run- should be celebrated in earnest, but detailing stats, plays, and every single win is a no-no.
Not only does it turn people off, but it adds a tremendous amount of pressure to your athlete. Sure, it feels great to be successful, but what happens when he starts struggling?
Does that mean we aren't as proud? And when we are over-the-top with praise we run the risk of creating a player with an overly inflated self-image, which will only hurt him in the eyes of teammates and coaches in the future. As parents, it's helpful to remember that a little humility goes a very long way.
There's a reason I painted this sign and hung it front and center in our family room. Coaches definitely want players who are humble and kind. They also want parents who let them coach, which was the next big point I heard from my boys. The LAST thing a player wants to hear is his parent screaming instructions over a coach, or yelling at an umpire about a call. It's humiliating, it is a distraction, and it hurts their standing on the team and within an organization.
This can be REALLY hard, especially when you feel like an umpire is changing the outcome of an at-bat or a game because of poor calls, or a coach is missing opportunities to capitalize on strengths of a player or situation. Show you care about your player by handling the situation in a respectful manner, so you don't reflect poorly on your kid by your behavior. Better yet, empower your son to talk with the coach on his own. The boys' last point involved parents educating themselves about the process, and how this is critical to success.
They explained how parents are most supportive and effective when we do our homework. It's our responsibility to know what they need and how to provide it. That means researching travel programs, finding high-quality trainers, getting knowledgeable people to evaluate their skills so they have reasonable expectations for their future.
Gather information from sources you trust and accept guidance from those who have been successful in the baseball world. Sammy pointed out that parents should understand that their sons do not need to say yes to every invitation they receive. He stressed that parents and players should have a clear goal in mind, know the purpose of the event, and understand if and how participation in the event can help the player get closer to his goal.
That's not only a waste of time and money, it can be demoralizing and frustrating for a young player. As parents it's our job to gather information, have a knowledgeable person properly evaluate our son's skills, and put them in the best positions at the right time to reach their goals. Talk to your player. ASK for help from those who are going through the same things. When our kids feel loved and supported, no goal is out of reach. We have all been on the sidelines with THAT parent. The one who blames everyone but their son for the throwing error, strikeout, or dropped ball.
Thing is, I totally get it- there are times I have been guilty of criticizing umpires for bad calls, when in fact, my son just missed a really good pitch to hit. In the short-term, it seems to make us and them feel better. Pat Summitt, former Tennessee Women's Basketball coach, said " Responsibility equals accountability equals ownership.
A sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a team or organization can have. Those three words- responsibility, accountability, ownership - get tossed around all the time. As a teacher, I discussed them daily in the classroom. Unfortunately, I've observed an alarming trend in the past decade, both in the classroom and on the field.
Parents and their children have been moving toward blaming external forces for failures and mistakes rather than admitting their responsibility in the situation. I call it 'the blame game. In the classroom we see it manifested in the parent who blames the teacher when their child fails a test.
We have all seen those videos of parents who get into brawls on the sidelines of little league games. Lack of responsibility is also revealed when parents say that kid made it because "he got lucky" or "his parents have more money" or "the coach just liked him better. Whether it's a public display or a private post-game bashing session, this blame game is doing serious damage to our kids. It not only has a negative effect on the individual athlete's psyche and performance, but it can bring down parents, coaches, and entire teams in the process.
As parents, we want the best for our kids. We are supposed to love them, believe in them, and advocate for them whenever possible. But when we fail to help them take ownership, we are doing more harm than good. First, we need to admit that there is a problem. That requires parents and coaches to do some soul-searching and take account of our mindset and behavior during training as well as games.
Ownership starts at the top, and how we carry ourselves directly impacts our children. When we make investments in fostering ownership, individuals and teams have the capacity to reach their fullest potential.
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They not only become their best on the field, but they become responsible human beings. And that's a win for everyone! Comment below and let me know how you are fostering ownership in yourself, your athlete, and your organization. I don't think anyone else in the division can compete with that. In fact, spring training becomes the basis for all kinds of expectations about the coming season.
Team and individual performances provide statistics for making predictions about potential playoff teams and future all-stars. It's the nature of the business at the professional level. It's part of the allure of sport. Who will predict correctly? Who will live up to those expectations? Who will exceed them? We all know those kids who are singled out based on their skill set and previous performances. I've experienced it with my own boys. Once a player is singled out as "the guy" he is saddled with expectations about his performance.
Expectations are external assumptions that arise when there's a strong belief that something will happen or that a player will achieve certain things. It's a rigid mindset based on a desire for something to happen. They are based solely on outcomes- what has the player produced on the field and what can we assume he will do in the future? Expectations are typically out of a player's control. They can be realistic or unrealistic, self-imposed or come from others. The danger lies in confusing expectations with goals. Goals provide the basis for becoming what we want. They are completely within a player's control.
They are tangible, concrete, and measurable. Goals provide focus and a plan for achieving the desired result. Unlike expectations, goals are flexible and require work; they don't just "happen" to a player. Expectations exist in the mind of others, goals originate in the mind of the player. Players who get caught up in expectations risk disappointment and frustration. You may feel added pressure and begin to change your approach at the plate, start swinging at bad pitches, and lose your focus. Trying to live up to expectations can seriously hinder development and lead to deterioration in performance and confidence.
Like I said earlier, focusing on other people's predictions can make or break a player. But a player who goes into a season with clear goals and a plan for reaching them is empowered to create his own destiny. He can live free of expectations because his focus is specific and intentional. His success is within his control. Let's start with parents because the development of a player starts at home. We establish the environment that contributes to their physical and mental development.
What should parents keep in mind when helping players deal with expectations? Once we take responsibility for establishing the environment at home, it's up to coaches to set similar standards at the team level. Parents and coaches create an environment that can help minimize the effect of extrinsic expectations, but ultimately the player has to take responsibility for managing them as well. How players handle expectations and pressure will impact their performance. The key is having a plan and setting realistic goals within a healthy environment that focuses on development.
I hope to continue our conversations so that we can help players, parents, and coaches keep athletes strong, healthy, injury-free, and in the game they love! Lilac tree I want to tell you a story about a little lilac tree. Suffice it to say that this was the first time I realized quiet boys are up to no good. It was pretty bleak. Thriving Lilac Tree And that is the lesson here. Yoga for Athletes Human beings are meant to move. Here are links to a few articles that explain more about the benefits of yoga for athletes: Jesse Biddle, a Philly native, is in the bullpen for the Braves Dreams do come true.
Those are some freak circumstances. Ones that could have encouraged many players to give up. It took 8 years. So today I came up with a crazy idea- I am going to let you take a peek inside my refrigerator. What's inside your refrigerator? So, what do I feed my boys? As the mom of three teenage athletes, this is one of the questions I get asked most often. In a nutshell, our philosophy is this: We actively choose what to put into our bodies.
And the fact is, you get out what you put in. Model healthy eating for your children. You simply cannot encourage them to snack on fresh fruits and vegetables if you are eating a box of cookies. When they were young, I made it a habit to have a plate of fresh fruit, vegetables, and cheese with hummus or guacamole ready for my boys as soon as they got home from school or practice. They are always starving and having this out provides immediate nourishment and helps fill them up until dinnertime. Having those healthy options ready stopped them from running to the cookie jar or box of pretzels because they were famished.
To this day I still put out that plate of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cheese and now they look forward to that healthy snack when they get home! Choose whole, unprocessed foods as the foundation for your menu. Decide to make lasting changes that you will maintain! Aim to add more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to the menu in manageable ways for you and your family.
Kids will eat the food that is available to them in your home. Here's where ownership comes in. Give them options and make sure they are highly visible and easy to grab and transport. Speaking of visibility, if they can see it, they will eat it. Clear glass mason jars are your friend. They come in a variety of sizes, preserve food really well, and since they are glass you don't have to worry about chemicals leaching into your food.
I always take about 30 minutes on Sunday evening to prep the fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. I wash, dry, and chop, so they are ready to go for snacks and lunches. This also helps reduce waste- no containers of fruit left to rot in the back of the fridge. And if there is anything left near the end of the week, I toss it in the freezer for smoothies! Provide the "staples" you know your kids like and add a new food each week.
This way you are making sure they have access to foods they enjoy while having the opportunity to try something different on a regular basis. And while we are on the topic of trying new foods Often kids will not like a new food until they have eaten it several times. Try cooking the food in different ways. I did this with cauliflower and discovered that my son will eat it roasted with a little salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Additionally, tastes change all the time, so give kids the chance to realize they actually DO like something now that they may have shunned before.
Make healthy foods accessible and convenient. I mentioned this as part of the visibility factor above, but the convenience factor definitely deserves to be highlighted. As I said before, I prep all of my fresh fruits and vegetables on Sunday only takes about 30 minutes to wash and chop everything! So much of what we put into our mouths is based on convenience.
I promise this simple step will make you and your kids more likely to eat the good stuff because it's easy and ready-to-go. Include your kids in the meal planning. Ask them what they like. Leave a grocery list posted in a central location so kids can add to it. Have conversations about healthy choices and be proactive in finding ways to make healthier versions of their favorite foods. Be flexible but firm. Talk to your kids about their likes and dislikes, but insist they at least try new foods.
My rule has always been that the boys have to try the foods that I prepare. I do not make different meals for each member of the family. If they try the food and genuinely do not like it, they can choose a healthy alternative. For example, my oldest son doesn't like broccoli, so on the evenings I serve broccoli with dinner he tries one piece and then chooses to eat a salad or a plate of raw cucumbers and carrots. In this way, he tries the food again, has control over his dinner choice, and learns to substitute a healthy alternative when faced with a food he doesn't like. To scrub, or not to scrub, that is the question!
But the odor only tells half the story, because we cannot forget about the stains. So, we can safely assume that your son plays hard and his uniform is going to stink and be really, really dirty. What do you do about it? And she said the words that changed my life- Fels Naptha. Good thing I had three disgusting uniforms to wash that very night. Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar First, the soap was easy to find- I had my choice of heading to CVS, Walgreens, Home Depot, or my local family-owned market to pick up a bar of the stuff that was going to solve all of my dirty uniform problems.
Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap Now let me begin by saying I was not about to spend an hour scrubbing every single stain out of three pairs of pants. Post-game pants- Front View Post-game pants- back view Pant stains up close I started by wetting the pants with some warm water and then went to work. The result was nothing short of a miracle. Front of pants after using Fels-Naptha and washing Back of pants after using Fels-Naptha and washing The stains I treated were gone, and the pants actually looked presentable for a change!
What kid wants to look like they never play anyway? Things are about to get real. I don't know about you, but most nights I lie awake wondering if I am doing anything right when it comes to parenting my athletes. Parenting athletes is hard So I decided to ask them. What did you do at school today? How did you feel hitting in the cage? So I sat down with my boys and asked them one simple question: What are the most important things you need me to understand about parenting you as a baseball player?
Each of my boys had unique insights, but there were definitely some common themes. Humble and Kind Coaches definitely want players who are humble and kind. Be parents, NOT coaches, or trainers, or umpires. To summarize, your players want you to remember: Have a plan, be supportive, and listen to what they say.
Be supportive, be low-key, and guide them with a positive attitude. Be proud of their accomplishments, but don't brag, especially on social media. But that pit in our stomach tells us it doesn't feel right. Because deep down, we know the truth. So, how do we solve the problem? How do we help athletes and teams re-learn the concept of responsibility so that they can take ownership of all aspects of their development and performance? As parents we must: ENJOY watching our kids play!
If we don't have that sense of joy we cannot expect our athletes to love playing the game. This is about THEM, not an opportunity for us to live vicariously through them. If there is a disagreement or question, we must handle it in a respectful and private manner. Whiz Kids Post-Game talk- fostering ownership It's important to realize that while parents and coaches set the tone for ownership, the most effective way to accomplish it is when players hold one another accountable.
How can coaches establish this mindset of accountability with their athletes? Involve every single player in establishing team rules and goals. When each player has a voice they become invested in the outcomes and are more likely to take responsibility for their role in achieving those goals. Hold regular team meetings run by the athletes. Ask for feedback and opinions- even if you can't use them every time, it's empowering for players to know they have a voice. Have team leaders who can actively reinforce those team rules and goals fairly and consistently.
Sometimes leaders naturally emerge. In other cases, coaches may see leadership qualities in a player or even have the team vote for its leaders. The leader must feel responsible for setting a clear example for the team and be willing to invest time and energy into helping younger players develop their skills.
He or she must also respect every single player and have the ability to recognize each player's unique talents in order to help the whole team. The mindset should be that each player has something valuable to contribute. The leader must hold themselves to the same standards as the rest of the team, and also have the ability to engage in tough conversations with teammates when the need arises. Start with the basics that every athlete is capable of doing every single time.
These are the non-negotiable things that do not require special talent or expertise. Be prepared with equipment and uniforms. Have a good work ethic. Be willing to put in the extra effort. Exhibit positive body language. Establish these core principles and use them as the foundation on which to build accountability in other areas.
Communicate them effectively and consistently. Each player should know the team objective and their role in accomplishing it. Have a "no-excuse" policy. This means establishing from the start that no one is perfect and we will all make mistakes. The difference is when we do make mistakes, we take ownership of them and work to correct them rather than placing blame. Foster the idea that mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow as individuals and as a team. Acknowledge successes openly and enthusiastically.
Be proud of individual and team achievements, and use them as motivation for building future success. Encourage players to commend one another for embodying the core principles as well as making great plays. Teach players to win with humility and lose with dignity. Have you seen the new cover of Sports Illustrated?
That's a lot of pressure. And it can make or break a player. That's why it's critical for players to understand the difference between expectations and goals. Jake PC Baseball So, how do we help players develop goals that free them from the pressure of external expectations? I believe it requires action on three levels- from parents, coaches, and the players themselves.
He is playing a game- it should be FUN. When kids become overwhelmed by pressure and expectations, they stop having fun and many will stop playing the sport they once loved. Remember, his high school game is not Game 7 of the World Series.
Don't try to coach from the bleachers or yell at umpires from the third baseline. This only adds stress and embarrassment to an already high-pressure situation. Emphasize effort and development over performance. Recognize gains based on training- did your son decrease his home-to-first time? Has time in the weight room led to increased arm velocity? Celebrate those measurable achievements rather than the number of strike-outs or hits in a single game. This is not to say you can't congratulate him for an outstanding performance- just don't focus solely on the game.
Do NOT get caught up in rankings, lists, and social media chatter. This is a BIG one. I understand, lists are cool. It feels good to be ranked 1 in your state. Who doesn't want to be told they are the best? Thing is, those lists change all the time. And they can be somewhat subjective, depending on the organization producing them as well as what events you attend and who is making the decisions. Congratulate your son and move on. Keep your own emotions in check. Don't get too high or too low. This is a mantra I have heard from my boys since they were little.
They don't want us to over-hype their successes or over-analyze their failures. Have open lines of communication and know your kids. Know when they want some extra advice and when they just need space or a hug. Help your son set realistic, measurable goals. Make a plan that has specific, defined actions in a step-by-step manner. Use this system to set short and long-term goals and help him re-evaluate regularly. This will create a habit of ownership that can enhance performance at every level.
Hold each position 10 times for 6 seconds each. Start with no weight and gradually increase the weight as needed. A strong core will help you transfer energy efficiently into your arms during a swing or throw. The Pallof Press is a terrific exercise for building anti-rotational core strength. During a throw, your front leg must be able to absorb all the force that your body generates. If it can't maintain this energy, your overall throwing velocity will be negatively affected. The Front Lunge helps to develop a strong front leg and optimal energy transfer during the throwing motion.
Both swinging and throwing are initiated by energy harnessed from powerful lateral movement, which is then converted into rotational power. Ample strength in the frontal plane will pay off big in your swinging and throwing. Your hands and forearms are responsible for the final power push during a swing. A strong grip and ample forearm strength will help you transfer more energy through the ball. Plus, if you're hitting a mph fastball, your forearms need enough strength to absorb that force and swing powerfully.
That's the reason many big league hitters have gigantic forearms. A Common Problem for Young Pitchers. Path to the Pros Samaje Perine, Oklahoma RB.