Applying the Strasburg Experience to Your Youth Baseball Player's Life

Dean SpiridonContributor IJune 23, 2010

Here at Pro Baseball, we have dedicated our last two blog posts (MLB Debut, Cautionary Tale) to the arrival of Stephen Strasburg and the hype that surrounded it.  While the focus of our blog (and our business) is NOT MLB commentary, scores, or news, we felt it necessary to investigate the phenomenon known as “Strasmas”.  We even took a little heat recently for peppering our Facebook Page with all things Strasburg.

Never fear, there is a method to our madness!  Today we’re going to provide some “lessons learned” and how you can apply them to your own (or your child’s) baseball career.

It was just a little more than one year ago and Stephen Strasburg was hanging out with his college buddies, playing video games, and doing what college kids do.  Sure he threw a 100MPH fastball, but he was still a kid.  As the MLB Draft approached, the pressure and attention certainly must have grown.  It quickly became known that the Washington Nationals would select Stephen with the first pick in the draft and a huge multi-million dollar contract would follow.  Now what?

It was now time to grow up.  The Nationals invested $15.1 million in his right arm and he was now an employee.  This isn’t to say he clowned around before, but suddenly the pressure was different.  The national media waited for him to mess up.  The Nats and their fans were following his every move.  Life changed.  He wasn’t just a “boy” anymore.  Stephen Strasburg now got paid to play baseball.

Every parent (and player) must ask themselves, “am I putting this type of pressure on my child (myself)”?  What happened to just playing the game for fun and letting it take you as far as you can go?  With the increased popularity of travel teams, all-star teams, and year-round baseball, aren’t we taking the game just a little too seriously?  Isn’t the pressure placed on our children a bit much?  After all, are we less of a person if our travel team doesn’t win every tournament?  Will our neighbors and friends think we’re worthless if we don’t return home with that championship trophy?

These are questions to ask yourself as you progress through your (or your child’s) baseball career.  Don’t forget, it is a game and even if you get paid to play it, even the best have fun doing it.

Here are three tips for parents to think about as your child moves up the ranks:

1. Let them play – let your child focus on the on-field challenges, not what you’re going to yell at them about after the inning.  Nobody can play scared and by applying constant pressure to perform better, you’re forcing them to do just that.  Just remember, if you get out 7 out of 10 at-bats, you’re still going to the Hall of Fame!

2. Guide but don’t pressure – too many parents try to live their dreams through their children.  Just because you never signed a pro contract, it doesn’t mean you need to pressure your kid to achieving that goal.  Provide guidance and direction in their pursuit of whatever goals they choose, but don’t cause undue pressure.  There is an old rule to live by and that is, “if you’re good enough for the pro’s, they’ll ask you to play for them”.  Players don’t have the power to force the issue.

3. It is just a game.  We’re not saving lives, just playing a child’s game.  The ultimate goal is to raise contributing members of our society, not necessarily professional baseball players.   

What are some of the things you emphasize with your child?  Share your thoughts in our community!

Until next time, all the best.

The Pro Baseball Staff