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Thursday, September 27, 2012

An opportunity for a “second chance” a lesson for youth sports coaches as well

I was reading this week about a wonderful story—a former major-league baseball player who suffered a concussion in his first at bat in the big leagues, and never had another…until now.

Adam Greenberg is the name of the player.

Greenberg was 24 years of age when, in his first major-league plate appearance playing for the Chicago Cubs, he was hit in the head by a pitch.  Severely concussed and hospitalized, he eventually battled through post-concussion syndrome and returned to playing baseball at the minor-league level.  But he never had the opportunity to play in the majors again.  He kept battling to get that chance, but teams just weren’t interested in giving him another shot.

Now, at the age of 31, he will get that opportunity, albeit briefly, thanks to the Miami Marlins.  (Click here to see more on the story.)

While the circumstances around the Greenberg “story” are certainly unique, it does raise an important issue when it comes to youth sports.  All too often coaches in youth sports overlook a young player because they are too “small”, not strong enough or “tough” enough—at least in the minds of those coaches.

They make a quick and often unfair determination that a particular individual can’t play or won’t ever be good enough.  They don’t look at the bigger picture.  They fail to see the potential.  They often aren’t equipped, as coaches, to identify if the young player has genuine determination to succeed, and just needs time, experience—and real coaching—to really shine.

Coaches like that miss youngsters with heart, cast away players who are late-bloomers, or ignore youngsters that bring the kind of genuine “leadership” skills that narrow-minded coaches don’t even know how to look for.  Those coaches also can’t identify a youngster who will be a real team-player, for example, and contribute to their team in a host of important ways.

It’s easy to spot the biggest and fastest players at the youth level.  Anyone can do that.  They are often born early in the calendar year, and are simply more physically advanced than many of those they compete against.  So they have a clear advantage.

Just like Greenberg is getting a second chance—albeit it is just for a day, in his case—a lot of youth coaches should not rely on instant assessments or a one or two-day tryout when looking at young players.

Too many kids with real potential - and character - get overlooked that way.