SportsEvents Magazine

NOV 2016

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November 2016 12 www.sportseventsmagazine.com ONE- on- ONE t One-on-One features an interview with an influential member of the sports community concern- ing a specific topic. This month we share excerpts from a speech on youth sports by Dr. Jack Llewellyn, founder of the Center for Winning Performance, presented at 2016 S.P.O.R.T.S. The Relationship Conference. It all started with a pitcher who couldn't throw strikes. The Atlanta Braves contacted sports psychologist Dr. Jack Llewellyn to work with pitcher John Smoltz, who was struggling with a 2-11 record midway through the 1991 season. After working with Llewellyn, Smoltz went 12-2 the rest of the year and helped the Braves win the World Series. As Llewellyn tells the story, shortly after that success, his five-year-old son started playing T-ball and Llewellyn agreed to be the coach. When word got out, parents went bonkers with their lofty expectations. Llewellyn did his best to temper them. "And so the parents are bringing these kids to practice 30 minutes early," Llewellyn said. "And they (the parents) are telling them (the kids) all the way to the park 'We're gonna win it all because the coach works with the Braves.' "Well, the kids think they are going to a cowboy and Indian fight — they don't know who the Braves are. So the parents are getting out of the car and they're running over, 'My kid wants to play left field,' 'Mine wants to play right field,' 'Mine wants to pitch.' "I said, 'Sit down and I'll tell you how we pick positions.' So the parents sit down and I call the kids over and I say, 'Run out there and sit down somewhere.' And they did, and I told the parents, 'That's where they play.' Now they said, 'What?!' But who the hell am I to tell a five-year-old he's a short- stop? Right? It makes no sense." Llewellyn made it clear what expecta- tions he had for parents, drawing the line. "I'll be coach and you'll be the parent," Llewellyn said. "You have three respon- sibilities as a parent: support, money and transportation. That's it. I don't want any of you telling me how to coach. I don't want you telling me about the game or your kids not playing, because I'm the coach. And so we started the games. "Well, my five-year-old had been to Braves stadium and kids are very impres- sionable, right? So he had been in the dugout with the Braves. He comes up to bat the first time and he takes off his warm- up jacket and he's strutting his stuff. You know, he has these batting gloves that the Braves gave him and they come up to here (reaching halfway up his arm) and he starts adjusting them like Nomar Garciaparra and the ball is on a stick right there. "I'm hollering, 'Hit it, man! Hit it!' And he has a big wad of bubble gum, right, so he's standing in there, he's digging in, he's spitting, he's digging and he's scratching. I said, 'Son, Major Leaguers scratch and I don't know why, so just hit it.' He hits it and it goes about 10 feet on the ground, and I'll tell ya, the first time he hit it I holler, 'Run!' and he ran straight to me. "Well, I'm at third base and I don't want to embarrass him cause it's the first time he hit. So he gets up and he's wiping the mud off and he's so proud. I put my arm around him and said, 'Son, I don't know who made the rules out here but they're telling me when you hit it, you're supposed to touch that base over yonder at first, that's why they call it first.' He said, 'OK.' "So he turned and ran and slid at home plate. So I ran over there to protect him and I looked at the teenage umpire and I said, 'He's safe, isn't he?' And he looked over there and said, 'Yessir, I guess he is.' Parents are hollering he ran the wrong way, and I said, 'Folks, we'll sort out direction next year; this year we just gonna hit the ball.'" Common sense rules. Just let kids be kids and have fun, Llewellyn said, that should be the goal. Llewellyn believes youth sports are so important that he made his appearance at S.P.O.R.T.S. The Relationship Conference a priority. "I put off my cancer operation; it was supposed to be yesterday," Llewellyn said. "I put it off until next Monday so I could BY JOHN REZELL One- on- One Common Sense from an Uncommon Guy "You've got to live every day like it's the last day you got. Every day, if one of your goals is to touch someone's life, then you've got a heck of a deal going. It ain't about money. It's about touching people's lives — that's what life's about." '' Llewellyn

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