In our zeal to be a positive force in the lives of those about whom we care, it is tempting for us to try to mold our loved ones into the people we want them to be. Our advice for them sometimes reflects our vision of their success rather than something compatible with their vision. At times such as these, it is important to quash your desire to be a “superstar” coach and simply play your position.

Recently, I have been practicing “playing my position” with my son. My wife and I just placed our three-year old son on a T-ball team a few weeks ago. T-ball is baseball for little kids and my son was going to be a baseball superstar. As soon as we signed him up, my father fantasies started. In my mind, I could already see my boy being interviewed on national TV.

I can hear the announcer standing with my son saying, “Folks, I am standing with a man who needs no introduction, the finest baseball who has ever walked planet Earth. Your baseball playing skill is amazing, even supernatural. You are undoubted the best player that has ever worn a jock strap. How do you do it?” Of course, my son replies, “My dad taught me everything I know.” Hey, we named the boy such that he would have a name that was easy for a stadium full of people to chant. Oh yes. My son was going to a baseball star. That was…until we went to the first practice.

My son and I arrived at the first practice with his brand new baseball gear in hand. He had a brand new fire-engine red, titanium alloy bat. He had a shiny new silver batting helmet with protective facemask attached. He had a brand new royal blue baseball glove with the Nike swoosh emblazed on the back. We were ready. Of course, the first thing we fathers do upon arriving at the first practice is to “size up” the other kids. Who is going to be the competition for my boy? My son has always been big for his age, so he was an entire head taller then some of the other kids there. Oh yes. We were ready.

Right then, the T-ball coach said “Let’s practice hitting the baseball.” My son is left-handed, so immediately I had visions of the best left-handed hitters of all-time. Reggie Jackson. No, Babe Ruth. My boy was going to be the next Babe Ruth. We walked over to the batting tee and I said, “Ok, Son. Watch me. Feet apart …hands back …swing away.”

“Ok, your turn.” My son grabs the bat and swings in one downward motion as if the bat is an axe and he is trying to chop wood. “Good try. Let’s try again…just like Daddy did it.” My son grabs the bat and swings again, this time with three big chops. He says, “That was fun, Daddy!” I said, “It’s more fun when you hit the ball. Let’s try again.”

Then Coach said, “Let’s play catch!” I know my boy can throw, I thought. At home, we have a set of oversized Legos and he throws those all the time. His aim is great. He always hits a dinner plate full of food, or a glass full of water, or our youngest child right in the forehead. I know he can throw. I put the ball in his left hand and say “throw it right here, Son.”

At this point, I am thinking that my boy may not be able to hit, but he can still be a star pitcher like Sandy Koufax or Randy Johnson. Several underhanded throws later, I concluded he may grow up to be a slow-pitch softball pitcher. I said, “Ok, ok. Try it again. This time, throw the ball over-handed. Raise your arm up high, and then throw the ball.” After several more underhanded throws, I was starting to get concerned. I want my son to be a baseball star. Unconcerned, my son said, “That was fun, Daddy!”

Then Coach said “It’s time to run the bases!” I thought, I know my boy can run. It’s one of his favorite things to do. Every time we are in the back yard at home he says “Daddy, let’s play run.” Then, we run and run and run…until Daddy gets tired. I know this boy can run! Coach calls all the kids to the home plate area and sends each child off to first base one at a time. The first kid takes off to first base. The second kid takes off the wrong way. The third kid doesn’t run at all. I say to myself, “my son can do this!” Then, Coach says to my son, “Go!” And my boy takes off…doing pirouettes like he is starring in the ballet.
By this time, I couldn't watch anymore. So, I turned away for a minute. When I turned back to see what was happening on the field, all the boys…and girls …were still running around the bases, except my son. He was off to the side of the field playing in the dirt, busily trying to make a sand castle.

I was crushed. My son was not going to be a baseball star, I thought. I’ll never hear him call my name on national TV. I went back to the dugout and slumped on the bench. I said to myself that “Well, the boy is not an athlete. Maybe he’ll be smart.” Then my son ran over to me and said again what he had been saying all practice long. “That was fun, Daddy!”

At that instant, I finally realized the position I was supposed to be playing. My position as a father is to help my son be himself, not my vision of him. With my help, my support, and my love, he will do whatever his heart tells him to do. Maybe he’s supposed to be the best wood chopper, or slow-pitch softball player, or ballet dancer in the world! That’s not my decision. That’s his decision. My position as a father is to help him be the best “whatever” he can be.

And besides, we haven’t even tried football or basketball yet!

When we got home, my wife said, “How did it go?” I said, “You should have seen this boy out there. He was great!” Then, we all stood together and started chanting his name.

Author's Bio: 

Brian McClellan is the cofounder and CEO of BAMSTRONG Presentations, the author of The Real Bling: How to Get the Only Thing You Need, a Sherian Publishing title, and a powerful motivational speaker. To learn more about Brian, please visit or BAM Says