Buzby: Stats in youth sports only cause trouble

jonbuzby@hotmail.comJune 1, 2014 

My son's stats from a baseball game the other night read 2 for 3 at the plate with no errors in the field. What they didn't tell you is his two hits were bloopers that barely fell between two fielders and his one out was the hardest ball he has hit all year -- just directly to the center fielder. And in the field, he never touched a ball other than in warm-ups.

Statistics can be very misleading and, for that reason, are very unnecessary at the youth level. In fact, they can be devastating.

I once watched a coach post the statistics from the regular season on the dugout wall right before the start of a playoff game. The kids were 8-years-old. The one or two kids who led the team in just about every statistic (typical in youth sports) were proud as punch. The rest of the team looked like they had each lost their very best friend.

Needless to say, the team went on to lose the game and their season ended. The coach's postgame speech questioned why the kids weren't as enthusiastic as usual.

What that stat sheet didn't show was how much the kids improved from the beginning of the season. It didn't show how one child, who was scared to death to face a live pitcher in the first game, could now stand at the plate without even flinching.

The statistics didn't measure how much fun the team had learning the game or how many friendships were formed (kids and parents) from the camaraderie.

The number of hits didn't come close to the countless smiles. But with just one thumbtack in a wall, this coach turned a very successful, fun season into a dugout full of deflated egos.

There can only be one top hitter, fielder and pitcher on every team (and let's face it, often it's the same player). My guess is the players (and parents) all know who those kids are without having to read it on the dugout wall. My guess is everyone but the statistical leaders would prefer not to see it in writing.

I always keep statistics for my team. They just don't ever see them. And neither do the parents.

As your seasons come to an end, think twice before letting your players and parents see the team stats. If you want to share them on an individual basis as a tool to show improvement and things players can work on, that's fine. But is there really any reason for the entire team to see them?

My guess is if you don't advertise the team stats, your percentage of player smiles will go way up.

And after all, isn't that the most important youth sports statistic?

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