Home' Junior Baseball : July-August 2014 Contents 36 • July/August 2014 • www.juniorbaseball.com
By Dr. George Selleck
strategies that make the most of your
• The ability to anticipate what others
are going to do, and make appropriate
• How you think about the game on
and off the ﬁeld.
If your child' s goal is to become a top
athlete, natural ability is not enough. No
matter what the game - baseball, football,
volleyball, tennis or golf - helping your
child develop his or her thinking skills
will help them take their game to a higher
George A. Selleck, Ph.D. is a sports
psychologist with degrees from Stanford,
University of Southern California and
Princeton. He has played, coached and
consulted for both amateur and professional
athletes, and is author of many books
including 'Common Sense: Coaching to Make
a Difference' (2007, Coaches Choice).
People have expressed concerns
about the role sports play in
the lives of young athletes.
Some feel that the single-minded effort
by athletes causes them to ignore other
talents, leaving them short-changed if
their sports careers don’t pan out. Even
for those athletes who do achieve the goal
of playing professionally, their careers are
often short and don't guarantee that they
will never have to work again.
So what do you tell your children who
dream of a sports career? Don't play?
Concentrate on your schoolwork instead?
Give up your dreams?
In a world that is driven by technology
and brainpower, it is our ability to think
that will ensure a successful life. But it
is my belief that sports can be used as a
tool to teach kids thinking skills that have
application to all areas of their life.
Sports are such a great and largely
unrecognized tool for helping kids learn
how to think! One reason is because they
offer the three most critical components
of learning. Sports are:
• Emotional. When you play sports,
you connect to what you are doing.
People learn best when they feel a
connection to what they are learning.
• Interactive. Hands-on learning is
easier to remember. There is also
considerable evidence that children
can learn much better in well-
conﬁgured cooperative groupings
than they can on their own.
• Fun! When you're having fun,
it's not likely that your mind is
wandering to other things.
I have talked to many coaches about
the concept of teaching their players
thinking skills, and most of them say they
don't want their players thinking while
they’re playing. They are convinced that
if the coaches do the thinking and the
players do the playing, the game will ﬂow
On the other hand, coaches do want
their players to play intelligently. That
raises the question: How can you play
intelligently without thinking?
IN THE STANDS
You can’t. And if you look closely
at the best athletes in the game
- the athletes whom I would call
"complete" players - you will see that
one of the things that they have in
common is their ability to think and
play at the same time.
To be a complete player requires a
combination of four things:
1. Athleticism. This means you
have to have excellent physical
skills. Of all the things it takes to
be a complete player, this is the
area you have the least control
over. After all, if you were born
to be 5'8", there's nothing you
can do to make yourself taller.
You do, however, have control
over whether you keep your
physical self in top condition,
regardless of what natural
abilities you may have been
2. Fundamentals. This means
being able to execute the basic
skills of the game. You can have
excellent physical skills, but still
be lousy at the fundamentals.
Knowing the fundamentals can make
someone with average physical skills
a great player - and it can make
someone with excellent physical
skills a complete player.
3. Character. What is your attitude
toward others? Toward life? Do you
treat people with respect? Do you
know how to exercise self-control?
"Complete" athletes understand that
who they are as well as what they are
helps determine their success on and
off the ﬁeld.
4. Field Sense. Simply put, this means
using your head to improve your
playing ability. Field sense includes
the items mentioned above, plus:
• A thorough knowledge of your sport -
everything from the rules of the game
to knowing how different ﬁelds can
affect your play;
• The ability to develop game-wining
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