By Julie Shepherd
When I was in high school I was a cheerleader and ran track. Although I absolutely loved my experiences with these two sports, I never played a team sport and as an adult it is definitely something I feel like I missed out on. The camaraderie of a team is something special. Your teammates cheer you on when you achieve good things and they rally around you when you feel like you made a mistake. You grab the trophy as a team and walk off the field as a team talking about how you can do better next time. It’s a thing of beauty to watch and more often than not, it brings tears to my eyes when I witness this team mentality.
We were fortunate to be a part of this team mentality over the last nine weeks while working with four teams (10u, 11u, 12u and 13u) from the BStings Baseball Club. Each team had a unique personality, but they all exhibited that special team camaraderie.
What was great about our time with the BStings was that I believe we learned just as much from them as they did from us.
Today, I want to share with you three things I learned from the BStings over the last nine weeks:
1.Be Flexible. We go into each and every class with a plan on what we will teach. It is a progression from the previous training session to build on the skills we want them to “master” by the end of their nine week program. Admittedly, I like things to go as planned, but we quickly learned some days we had to change things on the fly. Some days we needed structure and others needed to be a little more free flowing. I think it is important to take cues from your athletes on what they need on any particular day, and when we did this the classes were successful.
2.Have Fun. We only have 45 minutes with each team, which is not a lot of time. We wanted to make sure they left each class learning something new. On occasion, we might have gotten a little too serious trying to get it all done. There were a few boys on the team that always seemed to remind us in a subtle way that having fun is part of the learning process. From the dancing, to the infamous yell one of the boys would do about every 5 minutes, it always put a smile on my face and kept me in check.
3.Confidence breeds Engagement. The first few weeks most of the work we did was new to everyone. We needed more time to explain the movements and this sometimes turned into less engagement and attentiveness from the teams. I believe the cause of this was because they were not confident with what they were doing, and thus they reverted to making jokes or not paying attention. As the weeks went on and they gained confidence with the program, there paid more attention to what they were doing. Adding a little weight to a movement or more reps of push ups (they loved doing the push ups) kept them engaged. By the final week I was proud there was less instruction and more doing.
I hope in the future we can work with them again. I could not be more proud of them and the effort they gave during the nine weeks with us. I will conclude with an anecdote on my final day with the 13U team. We had a great session and as I was about to start cleaning up, one of the boys called me over to the team. He handed me a ball they had all signed and said, “thank you” from the whole team. On that day, at that moment, I felt like I was part of a team. I will cherish that “game ball” forever!
Thank you BStings!