Taking A "Time-out"

I have had many parents ask me what they should do when their son/daughter has simply lost their passion to play and it isn't fun anymore. To me, I don't think that there could be an easier answer than to let them take some time off and just be a kid.

So many times, we want our kids to follow the plans that we set up for them, and then they fall prisoner to staying on course. I can't tell you how many players in the big leagues took time away from the game of baseball, some of them convinced that they would never return. That little break could have been one of the most important things that allowed them to play at this level. Fortunately, they had some adults in their lives that were wise enough to let them take a break.

What would you do, if your aspiring young athlete said that they didn't want to play this year? Would your mind go toward the pressure filled tryout that you all had to endure, or the group of friends that would be disappointed, or are you one of the people who believes that if your son does not play on this particular team, he will never make it?.....I think you know where I am going to go with this, and I have seen it happen too many times, where the kids are forced to stay in, and eventually, they burn out.

So, what is the answer? As tough as it is, there are too many stories to ignore what happens when kids burn out of a sport. There are equally as many stories that prove that kids can take a "time-out" from a sport and not just return to form, but often times come back even better...motivated and excited.

The final aspect of this topic is another byproduct of allowing your child to take a break, if they are asking for it, and that is FAMILY TIME. I have seen a number of professional players who have had their kids take a break, because of our tough schedule, and they wanted to spend time together as a family. They traded the organized leagues, to spend time playing catch, and throwing them batting practice. I have seen these same kids go on to play in college, and professionally.They wouldn't trade those years together for anything, and obviously, their skills weren't effected.

Tough topic, but I hope that you will consider letting your kids take a break if they are asking for it. You both could benefit from it.

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Read Others' Comments...

  • Proper Oversight

    Why do you think there is a lack of nation wide oversight for Youth Baseball leagues and tournaments? It seems leagues and tournaments are operated in abundance throughout the year allowing players to play year round. I see players playing games in excess of what professional players play. At the professional Level, the league is managed by MLB, collage has NCAA, and High school has NHSF. These authorities constantly monitor the programs each level plays and tries to ensure the well being of the Athletes. Travel Baseball has no such authority. This also creates issues where parents fall into the trap, thinking if their child does not play at the highest level at all times, they will fall behind or their spot taken by another's need to play. I commend your attempt to bring this issue to an audience, but what can we do to protect our future athletes. Travel baseball is a feeder system to HS ball, where kids can compete at a higher level to recreational baseball, because most of the kids love the game. Where is the oversight? I know the last thing we need is more regulation, but where is a guideline to help Parents decide what is best for their young athletes. How and who do you complain to when these players are over exerting their developing bodies, possibly creating serious life changing injuries at a young age? I constantly read reports of serious juvenile sports injuries, the same as those treated on the professional athletes, that are on the dramatic rise. When concussions in sports were seen as a hidden long term sports injury, the above mentioned regulators implemented systems to help coaches identify, manage and attempt to lessen this silent issue. What happens when a player is over played at the travel level between the ages of 8-14? Is it all on the shoulders of the parent? The majority are not qualified to identify over use of a young body, or the potential seriousness of future long term injuries and shortening their child's longevity in the sport. As a parent, Coach and concerned observer, how do we keep the game of baseball safer so kids can enjoy the game they love, at a competitive level, for years to come?
  • time out

    My son pitched through little league but found DeSmet in his freshman year to be just too much. The level of play was such that he couldn't have "fun" any more at the sport. I found this to be true myself after a few years in Koury League. I had more success at practice and enjoyed it more than any game with all that pressure and stuffy scratch uniforms. Putting on my spikes was dreadful to me after a point. So I could empathize with my son and thought, we never pressured him to do anything much less an organized sport. When he declared he had had enough, we were ready as well to let go. The most fun we ever had was playing catch in our back yard with the Card game on in the background. Pretty soon I recorded the games so we could have that ambience of the sounds of the game forever. It was during the time of Jack Buck and Mike Shannon. What glorious days just playing catch! We played catch near the old Busch Stadium before a playoff game. I sent to Tony LaRussa a photo of my son with his glove and a card with a cardinal on the front. We said we played catch in the park near the stadium just before a playoff game. Tony wrote back during the off season how touched he was hearing of this event of catch before that game and sent a personalized, handwritten note saying so and advised us to keep on catching! Rick Blaine (see my movie reviews at www.rottentomatoes.com/member/stickershock)
  • Agree!

    I completely agree that if you let your kids take a break when they ask for it, they'll most likely return with a vengeance. At the same time, parents need to be on the look out for burnout, and offer for the child to take a break; a child may be afraid to say they need a break or may not realize that's even an option. I started playing soccer when I was 5, competitive travel soccer when I was 9. I played soccer year round, with the exception that we took July off. I also played on my Junior High and High school soccer teams, along with my Junior High and High school fast pitch softball teams. I also ran cross country and track. Around 14, I was tired and I didn't love soccer anymore. It showed in my play on the field. My dad pulled me aside one day before the next season's tryouts and asked if I wanted to sit out a season. I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders; I hadn't actually considered not playing. So I sat out a season, and came back focused and a much better player. The joy and passion was back. I'm 41 now, and I still play soccer. I keep this in mind as I watch my 8 year old playing baseball. He is completely focused, would play every moment of every day if I let him. I suspect some day I'll need to have the same conversation with him.
  • Thanks

    I am so impressed with the wisdom of Mike Matheny. I loved him as a catcher for the Cardinals, he was my favorite player and was sick when he left. However, God had big plans for him. He is a great general manager and I'm sure alot of that is due to his thoughtfulness in having a well rounded team. I am impressed to see second stringers come in to give the starters some time off to rest. Thank you Mr. Matheny for being a caring person, It is evident in the way you manage and thanks for sharing your thoughts with confidence and humility.
  • Breaks

    I have three ballplayers, which is half of our kids at home. None of them played ball last year during the spring/summer regular season, but then they played fall ball, which was more like organized sandlot ball. It seemed to make them more grateful to get the opportunity to play in a league this season. And one of my fears was that my middle school age boy, who is small for his age, would fall behind and not make his team through the tryout process. I think he was on the fringe, but made the team and proved to the coach that he was a hard worker and sure handed second baseman, won the starting job. A timeout can be not only for the ballplayers in the family, but also for those who are not ballplayers, who need to see balance in the family's activities, and not focus only on the athletes.