photo-155Winning Through Failure: How to Help Kids Succeed 

Everything I leaned about success, I learned through baseball. Well, maybe not everything but it wasn’t until last summer that I realized…

BASEBALL teaches kids and adults one of life’s greatest lessons: how to fail.

Last Summer JRB played travel baseball for the very first time. We didn’t know much about the program other than a bunch of his friends were trying out for the team and we loved our park district’s Spring League so extending the season into summer seemed to make sense. The only difference with travel baseball is the stakes are a little higher ~ you have to “try out and make the team” and the kids pitch (rather than coaches). Sounds like fun right?

JRB’s first game was at the end of May against Deerfield. Deerfield had a reputation for being a really good team and their coaches were professional coaches from a local baseball center. Our kids were fairly new to baseball, we came from the park center league and our coaches were volunteer parents. But who cares right? It’s just for fun right?

JRB’s first travel baseball game was a disaster. He was nervous and timid and he struggled with a lack of confidence. The more mistakes he made, the more upset he got. Previously, JRB had been one of the better players on his park district team. He was fast, attentive and usually made good contact with the ball. During this game, JRB struck out every time he was up at bat. And each time he got more and more upset. It was hard as his mom to see him leave the batters box, tears rolling down his face. At one point, his dad came over to me and asked if we made a mistake, maybe we shouldn’t have set JRB up for failure by having him play in this league. Maybe JRB was over-matched. Clearly JRB felt the same way because he cried in the car all the way home. That night, before bed, we got cozy on the couch and talked.  I explained that baseball is a tricky because everyone (Even Buster Posey) fails more often than he succeeds.

“In baseball, you are considered an AMAZING hitter if you get 3 out of 10 hits! The key is to not get too down during  the other 7 (non-hits).”

2014-05-21 18.32.10JRB liked his odds, “I can get 3 out of 10 hits,” he said. I just need a little more practice. It was then that JRB decided he wanted to devote his summer to getting better at baseball. “I know with practice I can get at least 4 out of 10 hits.”

And just like that he became a baseball player. He practiced everyday, which included MANY trips to the park to pitch balls to JRB or hit balls while JRB fielded them. Eventually I was able to connect with neighbor whose son also played on the team and he and JRB and the 2 moms would go out and play and play and play. And slowly, over time, JRB became more confidence in the field and connected better with the ball. Last summer JRB ended up  batting clean-up for his team and having a batting average well above 300.

Mike Polstein understands how to turn a negative into a positive. It’s the reason he created his company Rip-It which is a family run business that makes innovative (and exceptional) bats, helmets, fielder masks and more.  In the late 90’s Polstein’s 10-year old daughter, Lauren, was hit in the nose when a a low pitch popped off the top of the bat during pre-game practice. Hurt, but undeterred, Lauren wanted to keep playing. The problem? Due to her injury  Lauren was forced to play with a batter’s face guard which was annoying as it impeded her vision and her game. That negative inspired Polstein to create a face guard that was light weight, comfortable, fit any type of helmet and vastly increased a players field of vision.  Lauren didn’t miss a beat and soon other parents wanted a face guard for their daughters and sons. Polstein saw that there was a market for high quality baseball equipment that helped players and parents both on and off the field. So he along with his two college-age sons created Rip-It Sporting Goods. According to Jason Polstein (Mike’s son and co-founder of the company)

RIP-IT was founded with the belief that there was a better way to make product.  But its not just product – we believed we could improve the entire customer experience.  We thought there was a better way to provide customer service and a better way to educate parents and players on equipment.” – Jason Polstein, Co-Founder RIP-IT Sporting Goods

There are a lot of reasons why playing youth sports is good for a child’s development. Kids learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, dedication, self discipline. But learning how to fail is really one of the best things sports can teach us. Striking out is inevitable but true success comes from learning how to DEAL with that failure.

I am thrilled and honored to be working with Rip-It Sporting Goods as a brand ambassador. They are a family owned business and wonderful people. I mean who doesn’t love a dad who INVENTED new gear to help his daughter play better baseball? So join the team and sign up for their RIP-IT Insider newsletter for a chance to win free gear.