Joe Girardi on Youth Sports-Part 1

Joe Girardi

Joe Girardi shares what the focus of youth sports should really be about and how parents should act at a game. (Click image for video).

Girardi: Hi, I’m Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees. Here are some of my thoughts on youth sports on MikeMatheny.com.
I’m fortunate enough to be the manager of the New York Yankees – a historic franchise – a franchise with so much tradition.
But I also have children, and youth sports is extremely important to me. And some advice that I might have for the coaches – because I do coach my son and other kids – is: It’s about the kids.
It’s not about the wins and losses (at an early age). It is about teaching them how to play the game and how to love the game. And it’s not whether you win or lose, and it’s not a number on your record…it’s if the kids want to come back the next day, the next week, and the next year.

Q: How should parents act at a game?
Girardi: I think it is real simple for how you should behave at a game. Act like you’d want your kids to act in school. It’s really simple. You have to think about what your actions are.
I think sometimes parents get so involved and they get so concerned with winning and losing at such a young age – and how their kids are doing – that they lose focus on what it’s all about.
Sports is a team thing – it’s about the team and how they play together. And I think if you can act like you’d want your kids to act at school…the stands will be a much better place.

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  • I have coached youth baseball

    I have coached youth baseball for five years. This spring, I am not coaching. My son was drafted by a coach whose approach doesn't jive with mine. He is all about winning. He seems to gain great satisfaction from his own cleverness. Other coaches have said that he is smug and uses bush-league tactics. Here are some examples. When batters have a 3-0 count, he makes the batter show bunt to throw off the pitcher and get ball four. He tries to take second base on a walk because he knows that catchers and pitchers often ignore the batter-runner. He has kids leave the bag, stand between two bases and slap their hands to dare the pitcher or catcher to make a throw. He makes batters take pitches just because he feels they will likely strike out if he allows them to swing. I have lost plenty games as a coach. My son's new coach wins a lot of games. But my son has lost interest in baseball. This is an example of what happens when coaches put emphasis on themselves and not on teaching kids. I am grateful to Mike and his peers for their work on this site. It is time to clean up youth sports. My boy loves the game. Two years ago, he met Tony at Cardinals spring training. And he loves to be a coach on the field. He is a leader. And I am proud to have set a good example for him. And it bothers me to no end to see so many coaches and parents who send kids the wrong message. I definitely plan to return to coaching in the fall, and I will do it the right way and try to set a good example for the other coaches.