Society & Culture & Entertainment sports & Match

Baseball Coaching and the Rightfield Syndrome

The sun's rays beat down hot on a mid-July afternoon. The bleacher-bench seat is hot under your shorts. The smell of fresh cut grass is a stowaway on the light breeze that trickles in between the waves of heat. Children's cries of excitement and enthusiasm abound all around you. The soft rumble of a jetliner catches your attention as it streams across the blue sky leaving a thin puffy white trail in its wake. You think about the good ol' days of summer. The abrupt sound of clinging metal draws your attention back to the action taking place. For a moment there you reminisced about your own childhood and how you loved summer vacation, particularly because it meant fun and freedom.

As you snap back into reality you see the two teams changing sides indicating the inning is over. Your son (or daughter) trots off the field with his head held high and a smile on his face. This is his second year playing youth-league baseball. He loves to play the game and you practice with him whenever you can. He plays third base, shortstop, and pitcher. Your son is considered by the coach to be one of the best players on the team and has a good shot at making the all-star team this year.

As the game progresses on you notice something peculiar, yet familiar. The rightfielders for both teams seem to be the worst players on the field. Whenever a fly ball is hit their way they seem to shield themselves from the ball as they lift their glove hand high into the air as if to make an attempt at catching the ball. The attempt is always futile since they have grossly misjudged the flight path of the ball.

After they open their eyes to discover where the ball has landed they run to it and make an honest, but uncoordinated, attempt at throwing the ball to their waiting teammate, only to see the ball fall plenty short of making it from the outfield grass to the infield dirt. After the play, the kids hang their heads and walk back to their position marker, a bare spot in the grass that is a result of the constant boredom and frustration experienced by many of the other kids who have played rightfield in that park.

You also notice that these kids don't fair so well at the plate. They stand shaky in the batter's box, intimidated by the opposing pitcher and by the ball. They tend to swing feebly, yet wholeheartedly, at any pitch that they can see. The end result is usually a one-way ticket back to the dugout via a strikeout. They rarely make contact with the ball, and when they do it usually dribbles to an infielder who easily throws them out at first. They are often hanging their heads on the field and in the dugout.

These kids just don't seem to be in the same league (no pun intended) as the other ball players when it comes to ability. Their performance and many times their enjoyment of the game are sub-par when compared with the other kids on their team and in the league.

You wonder what makes these kids any different from your kid. They seem to be smaller, less coordinated, and the coach appears to interact with these kids differently than with the rest. What could be the possible explanations for the "Rightfield Syndrome" that you have noticed?

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