My son plays on 2 different baseball teams. He is on a travel team and an in-house athletic association team. For his travel team, we have been practicing in an indoor facility since late November. He is fortunate enough to play with most of the same kids for the past 3-4 years. They work well together and it shows. Since they started practicing until now there is a noticeable difference in their attitude, their work ethic, their desire and of course their overall ability! I’m one of the coaches, and it’s really amazing to see the transformation before your eyes with these kids! It’s truly something special. I can see that every single one of them has benefited from being on this team. You can see it from the pop of the mitt, the crisp and quick hands of a fielder and the sound of more and more solid contact of the bat! It wasn’t always like this though.
Rewind to November…and so it begins. Most of these kids play multiple sports, my son included. Flag and tackle football had just just ended and basketball was just about to get under way. Baseball seemed to be on the back burner for most. It usually is at that time of year. Practice started 2 days a week and only half the kids were ever there at one time for the first month and a half. It was frustrating at first because you could never really get the kids to gel. Even though these kids have all played with each other, there was just no consistency. And it showed in practice during drills and hitting exercises. You could tell which kids had been there more and which had not. It’s only natural that with consistency you improve. Over the next several months once basketball started to wind down is when it really started to show. You could just see it from practice to practice. Their attitudes changed, their ability to do things asked of them and the desire was there. Once we had a consistent bunch of kids who were committed and practiced together, is when they all started to gel together.
Just this past Saturday my sons in house team had their first practice. For most of the kids this was their first practice of the year. I am not a coach on this team, but I offered to help if needed. The coach talked to the kids at first and had them warm up. As they were warming up he stopped everyone and asked them to watch my sons mechanics on how he throws the ball. He said “everyone watch Caden and how he throws.” He wanted them to watch the entire motion through his follow through. He said that’s exactly how I want you guys to throw the ball. Great mechanics there! I’m always hard on my son with everything, and since baseball has been my passion since I was 5 I am extra hard on him with this! I thought, wow he is using my son as an example to all the players on what to do! Later on in the practice I was helping hit ground balls to the kids. I didn’t say much a I was just observing the team and what kids needed help with. The coach from time to time would jump in and tell a kid to do something different. When I coach for our travel team I am constantly correcting form, the way kids take a ground ball, throwing mechanics and everything in between. Like I said, I am extra hard on my son! What Dad isn’t hard on their kid? So I decided since I didn’t know very many people on this team I would just help and sit back. I was shocked, amazed and PROUD all at the same time! Not once did I have to correct my son! I mean I was really shocked that I didn’t have to even yell his name. Those that coach with me will tell you they hear me yell CADEN all the time during practice. I saw everything that we practiced so hard during the winter and more. He did everything that I normally have to correct him on! And to top it off he was instructing kids on how to do things better turning double plays! It was a very proud moment for me as a Dad!
I always try and take things back to how it pertains to Physical Therapy. This example is no different. My title for this blog post is practice, consistency and effort. Practice makes “BETTER” in my opinion. It never makes you perfect. There is always something that you can work on and something to improve on. Consistency with practice and technique will always help to focus on things that you are having difficulty with. The amount of Effort you put into something shows in your results. The more effort you put in, the better the results. If you truly want to get better, which I feel that every patient that comes to me does, then you have to take into account these 3 things. My son has shown me that with these 3 things he can do amazing things, and he is only almost 9! When I think about it though I wouldn’t expect anything less from him or my patients!