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Advice To Parents from a Professional Baseball Coach

By Kory DeHaan
Current Hitting Coach, Pittsburgh Pirates Organization
Worldwide Baseball Prospects Coach/Mentor

My parents loved me and I love my kids. My parents wanted what was best for me and I want what is best for my kids. The old cliché is right, when parenting skills have to be used, we as parents normally revert back to what our parents did or told us. As my parents raised me to become the man I am today, my wife and I are doing our best to help our girls grow up to realize their dreams through their God-given talents and abilities.

Playing sports was a way of life for me. I loved competition on the sports field and I loved succeeding. It came natural to me. I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity to make a short career out of playing baseball professionally. After having the best job on this earth by spending couple of seasons in the big leagues and seven overall professional years playing in the game, I was given the opportunity to have the 2nd best job in baseball, coaching. Through my experiences on the field and many helpful, selfless people along the way, I am able to share with you some thoughts on where and how you might start to help your kid excel in the game of baseball.

*Love your kid no matter what.
Encourage them in the interests and their talents. Help them find or understand their talents if they do not know what they are good at. Help fuel their passion and desire to do the best they can with what they have available to them.

*Help build your kid’s confidence but not to the point that they are arrogant.
Sports will humble you eventually. In public, keep your confidence in your thoughts, not trying to show off with your words. Let your actions on the field speak for who you are and what you can do.

*A point will come when Mom and Dad do not know everything.
When that time comes, search out like-minded coaches that will re-enforce what you are telling them at home. Finding a coach that has the right perspective on what is important in the game will be vital to your child’s healthy physical and mental development.

*Keep your kids responsible for their words and actions.
They need to take ownership of them and not look to make excuses if things do not go as planned.

*Besides being a great player, your child needs to know that it is more important to be a great teammate.
What does a great teammate look like? They pick each other up. They play hard all the time. They do all the little things to help the team win. They build unity, not division. And they have FUN!

*Let them know that they do not have to be perfect in their performance.
Their pursuit of perfection is a good thing, but if they do not hit that mark, it is okay if they have given it their best. It is good to share with them that you are not perfect as well and that you are still trying to learn and better yourself every day.

*Communicate constantly with your kids.
Do what you say you are going to do. Broken promises that happen more often than not will crush your relationship with them. They will feel like their value is not as great as what you choose to do instead.

*Keep your kid’s dreams alive and well.
Never say anything to them about not being able to accomplish their dreams if that is what they truly love to do. Eventually time will tell if their dreams may be able to turn into reality or not, but you do not have to expedite the process by blowing out their dreams.

*Build work ethic by showing them it can be done if you trust the process and get up each day committed to becoming a tenth of a percent better.
At times, it can become a daily grind to get up and do the right thing. To accomplish anything big, you need to be mentally tough and resilient about understanding that doing the little mundane things matter just as much as the fun exciting things.

*Try to learn something from everyone you meet and from every situation you are put in.
Life can be great at times and it can be very hard at times. Take the nuggets of information from each situation and put them in your bag for when you come across a similar situation. You will be ready and prepared to handle it better and more efficient.

*Set daily, monthly, and yearly goals that focus on practical things they can accomplish.
Do not make the on-field numbers more important than the process. If they are doing all the right things and preparing correctly, naturally they will realize success often times exceeding what you only thought possible.

Final thoughts

Living in a world that promotes immediate gratification for minimal effort, some of these words of advice may be a struggle for you to apply. Trust what I have seen and heard through the years of playing professional baseball and coaching sports, nothing that was built to last was built fast. Please be willing to put in the extra time and effort with your kids. Show them how much you love them by giving them attention and putting them first before your own interests. They will love you and respect you more for it when they are older. They will also pull from their bag of experiences with you if and when they are fortunate to have kids of their own. And being able to spoil your grandchildren is much better than spoiling your own child.

About the Author

Coach DeHaan was signed during the '97 amateur draft as a 7th Round Draft Pick by Pittsburgh Pirates. He then went on to play as a Professional Player from 1997 - 2003 with both the Pirates & Padres organizations making his official Major League debut in 2000 with San Diego Padres. After playing professionally he then went on to Coach Professionally in 2009 with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League. In 2010 and 2011 he was a Minor League Hitting Instructor for San Diego Padres. He currently is a Minor League Hitting Instructor with the Pittsburgh Pirates and a Baseball Mentor for players of Worldwide Baseball Prospects High School to College Baseball Recruiting Program.