“Vince Lombardi, arguably the most inspirational American football coach of all time said, ‘Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.’”
The idea is that repeatedly practicing imperfect technique may indelibly imprint the repeating of the same when it really counts on game day.
But what if every day is game day?
There are those who seem to imply that youth should be allowed leeway in learning the significance of those lines on the field that separate fair from foul, good behavior from bad, what is acceptable from what is not.
But what are we actually doing to our youth when the lines – in leniency – are blurred?
Very possibly a huge disservice.
“Inept coaches don’t just fail to help you, they actually help you to fail,” is one interpretation of what the legendary Green Bay Packer’s coach said.
In baseball, “whether it’s a youth baseball player hitting a foul ball, a little league player, or a professional, the territory is almost always the same.”
Fair from foul, clearly marked, every day, exactly, consistently, the same.
Do we change the width of the strike zone because the pitcher can’t hit it?
From Little League to Major League the 17-inch width of home plate is the same.
Which observation led long-time baseball coach John Scolinos to ask the more than 4,000 baseball coaches in attendance at the 52nd annual ABCA convention, “what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?”
And what if the ‘field of play’ is the home?
If in “our discipline we don’t teach accountability to our kids,” Scolinos continue, “and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards, we widen the plate.”
And what if the ‘field of play’ is the school?
“The quality of our education is going downhill fast,” Scolinos said that first week of January 1996. “Teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”
It’s a good question.
Perhaps the only question that matters.