Tag Archives: fun

Rhyme, Reason and The Things That Drive Us

 Little Slice of Heaven

I’m likely going to be taking a bit of a baseball and coaching theme with my posts in the near future. This stems from both the fact that Little League coaching begins soon (I find out my team on Saturday) and that it’s a rich source of inspiration for posts. Kids have an uncanny ability to teach adults a lot if those adults are paying attention.

It reminds me of a conversation a year or so ago while helping out with All-Stars practice one day and one of the players, Shamus, strolled on up to me as I watched a drill. He stood next to me for a few moments, watching the same drill and the following conversation ensued:

Shamus: Hey coach… are you married?

Me: No, Shamus, I’m not.

*brief pause*

Shamus: Got a girlfriend?

Me: No, Shamus, I don’t right now.

*longer, more thoughtful pause*

Shamus: Gettin’ kind of late…

You can’t make this stuff up. Hence, the wisdom of the youngins.

What I’m thinking most about with the season so close to starting is what drives me as a coach. The biggest piece is the fact I coach my nephews and have been doing so for 7 or 8 years, ever since my older brother was volunteered by his lovely bride and… well… he wasn’t going to do it solo. Suddenly, Assistant Coach Kevin was born!

But what about beyond that? What am I trying to accomplish? What’s my goal? My mission? My philosophy? Gosh darn it, don’t I have a vision statement with a 5 year plan developed by Wharton-educated consultants?!?!?  *ahem*  Wow… that got scary for a second.  Thankfully, I’m back and I can answer these questions fairly simply:

I coach with my Little League self in mind as much as I possibly can with the dual purpose of helping my players get better and (more importantly), enjoy the hell out of playing baseball.

THAT right there is my mission statement.

I think of my Little League self because I was never the most confident of baseball players, although I had some ability that could have become something nice if got out of my own way. Instead, I probably spent a lot of time thinking I would never be like my older brother who was fantastic at baseball, would end up being All-State in high school and playing in college.  I can actually remember a time when I was in 4th or 5th grade where I was at bat, it was raining and T.J. Church was pitching to me… and all I kept saying to myself was “Please just strike me out.” Yup… that truly happened and I can almost feel that pit in my stomach just thinking of that moment where I wanted to be anywhere but at the plate trying to hit. Not a great moment, but one indelibly burned in my memory.

I never, EVER want a kid that plays for me to feel that way, not even for a moment. I can’t even totally say why I was feeling that way – my parents were always really supportive. I just felt miserable out there and wasn’t having fun, at least not on that day. I would do better when I got to high school and played baseball all 4 years… but I often suffered from the greatest shortcoming any young athlete can have:

I was far more worried about messing up than the upside of laying it out there, possibly achieving something magical or great and feeling the joy of doing well. That’s a missed opportunity and I don’t want it repeated under my watch if I can help it.

So that drives me and it’s really why this entire coaching experience means so much to me. I think a lot about how that felt for me as a kid and, oddly enough, the kids I will be coaching this year will be in exactly that same age range as me during that day in the rain.

No matter how I need to scramble out of work early for a game or changing up my weekend schedule because of games… it just doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Hey, don’t misunderstand me – I am not some noble saint for taking this position. I do all of this because it’s just so much damn fun – I get at least as much out of it as the kids do. It’s not really work. It’s not a grind. It’s just… well… fun.

Here’s to the start of the upcoming season with a watchful eye towards the why of coaching… maybe the most important aspect of all.

Sometimes It’s Just Play

As I start this post, I am already wondering whether it will be overly specific to a small group of people. I never like doing that, so I am going to do my best to rein this puppy in and bring it back around. We’ll see how that goes. And with that unbelievably awkward introduction, we begin.

There are a lot of people out there who love to get into details and plan. Depending on the situation, I can be one of them, but a lot of the time, I find it can turn into over-planning as well.  But I do know quite a few folks who truly enjoy getting into the uber-specific details of any project to turn over each aspect, each step and carefully construct a borderline masterpiece of crafting. It’s actually pretty amazing to see the final result.

I see this with people in their training/exercise programs as well. If something is not built into the plan, then great googly-moogly! All hell breaks loose!

(Best use of “googly-moogly” ever. I will not debate this.)

It’s a little amusing to watch if, in some ways, it were not so darn sad. Oh don’t get me wrong – I’ve done the exact same thing where my plans have the inevitable wrench of doom thrust into them with nary an apology from Murphy, his law or anyone else.  But by-and-large… especially when it comes to things lifting-related… I tend to roll with the punches.

This whole topic struck me yesterday when I snagged my nephews, ran to Toys ‘R Us, grabbed a few Nerf footballs and headed over to an open field at a local college. We weren’t there to improve our GPP (General Physical Preparedness). We weren’t looking to get in some extra NEPA (Non-Exercise Physical Activity). It wasn’t designed to be part of a structured anything.

2011-10-10 16.17.11

It was just playing. Running around. Throwing the football. Those two little wild monkeys tackling each other repeatedly into the grass. It was just play in all of its beautiful, chaotic and unstructured glory.

It wasn’t my thinking of how this would so neatly improve my short burst acceleration or improve my total calorie burn for the day. I didn’t consider my mobility or even how the sunshine would increase my overall Vitamin D intake for the day.

It was possibly the last completely beautiful day we may get before the cold, overcast and rainy parts of Fall kick into high gear here in New England. And it felt great.

It’s just play and that is enough. If my deadlift session today were to somehow suffer because of this little excursion, so what? I cannot even begin to imagine it will, but so what? Was my plan so unbelievably valuable that I should pass up the chance to get outside and send my nephew on a few deep post patterns in the sun? Are your plans like that as well? They may be occasionally, but please, please, PLEASE don’t fall into the trap of your plans always trumping the chaotic little bumps that come up in life that you may miss and never get back.

Sometimes you need to be less afraid of diverting from your plan and utterly terrified of missing a magical random moment… because those are often the best of all.