Tuesday, 26 February 2013 12:02

Dugout Doings: Yogi and Jack Featured

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The coaching wisdom of Jack Llewellyn The coaching wisdom of Jack Llewellyn

Yogi Berra and Jack Llewellyn get to the same place by different routes. 'Baseball is 90% mental,' the Hall-of-Fame catcher once said. 'The other half is physical.' Llewellyn, an Atlanta PhD sports psychologist, puts it this way: 'Supplement physical talent with mental ability.' 

For more than an hour on Sunday, Llewellyn, who has worked with athletes on all levels in all sports, shared his philosophy of youth sports with more than 200 NYO coaches and parents. As he paced the hardwood of the NYO gymnasium, Llewellyn told tales of big-name athletes he has helped, but he grew most passionate about children who likely will never rise to those professional levels. The presentation, sponsored by the Positive Coaching Alliance, builds on prior years' efforts that, according to NYO President Clete McGinty, are paying off. 'We have a lot fewer (negative coaching and parent) stories to tell,' he said. 'But we do have a few overzealous grandparents, and we are working on them.'
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Here's a sample of what Jack Llewellyn said. If Yogi has 'Yogiisms,' consider these 'Llewellynisms.' 

'Seventy-five percent of kids quit sports at age 13 (because they are burned out). Yet, there is no better place to learn life's lessons than in sports.' 

'Don't choose a sport for your child to play. It's not your choice to make! If a child needs motivation from you to play the game, maybe they shouldn't be in that game. The key is keeping them in the sport through the awkward times. Create a positive environment so the kids want to be there.' 

'If you coach your own kids, only coach them when you coach the other kids, too. Not at home, not on the way to and from the ballpark.' 

'What should I tell my kid about the horrible game he played? Nothing! And for those who video(tape their children), only keep tape with correct performance. Park things in the positive file. We continually criticize. I'm not one of those psychobabble guys. Those guys never had kids. Kids want to be disciplined. They have to fail to appreciate success. But you don't magnify failure. By (age) 18, they've been told 200,000 times what not to do. (They begin to think,) if I don't fail, I've succeeded.' 

'Kids try too hard (to succeed). You can't 'try' to hit the ball. You have to let yourself hit the ball. Visualization is seeing correct performance. It is learning. Take five minutes of every practice to visualize. It works.' 

'Every child should play with emotion under control. Don't tell them to 'relax' or to 'be aggressive.' They don't understand that.' 

'If you've never had (to deal with) adversity, you've never developed (life's) tools. If you can teach a pitcher to recover between pitches (rather than between innings or games), he's going to get better.' 

'Baseball players are the best athletes of all because they can do more things. Let (children) grow up to be athletes (by playing a lot of sports).' 

'Live every day, have fun every day.' 

Did the message get through?  Consider this email from a dad they day after hearing Llewellyn speak: 'As I was walking into the (gym), I got a message from my wife. She said our 4-year-old who just ended practice with a cookie cake party for the team said 'that was FUN' to no one in particular on the way home. As Dr. Llewellyn was speaking, it reinforced that I guess we did our job on this day.' 

(Like Jack Llewellyn, Jay Smith, who writes the Dugout Doings column, has four children and two grandsons. Children deserve every ounce of effort we put into parenting or, in the case of NYO, coaching them.

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