Baseball Education and Poetry in Motion
Friends of mine have figured out that I can relate just about everything in life to baseball. Even when I speak to youth at church, I explain that the standout Bible characters are a baseball lineup. You can probably figure out who I have batting fourth in the order, the guy with all the power. That’s a story for another day.
So, here I go again. Little do people know that every subject kids take in elementary and junior high school prepare kids for the baseball diamond. School is where the baseball education begins for players.
The term “poetry in motion” had to come from a baseball aficionado. Every well-executed baseball play is poetry in motion to me. The beauty of the game is like a scenic rhyme on the picturesque green fields of time. On every play, the pitcher displays a fluid and balanced delivery. That motion propels balls into speeding missiles towards three waiting admirers. One of those three, “The Natural,” unravels his body with an elegant explosion of energy that sends balls into the starry night sky. You get the picture. Poetry is the harmony of education with the greatest game of all, baseball. In fact, every classroom subject is about baseball. (Read on for proof of that).
I often ask my students, “What is the shortest distance between two points.” The wise know it is a straight line. The straight line concept is valuable for teaching many things in baseball. Players must learn to take a direct line when throwing a baseball and running through the base at first. Approaching many batted balls on defense require the same direct path. Nowhere is the shortest distance idea more important than when developing a compact swing. No time exists for detours with the bat. For players to wait long enough and catch up to unbelievable pitch speeds and movements, the proper bat path is crucial.
However, math involves more, and this is when things get complicated. Defensive baseball is all about understanding angles and arcs. Figuring out the angle the ball comes off the bat is crucial. Chasing down fly and ground balls involve taking the correct angle to them. Understanding how ball flights change based on the thrower’s arm angle is important, too. On offense, batters must calculate the pitcher’s arm angle and the arc of the ball to hit them. Hitting pitches with all kinds of crazy movements requires calculations that only mathematicians compute. With base running, times exist when the fastest route around the bases is an arc to the next base. Yes, baseball players must know their math.
Baseball Education from Science Class
Two other questions I ask ballplayers attest to the value of the knowledge of science. “Where does balance come from?” and Do you think you will be quicker from a still or moving position?” Balance comes from what is between the ears. Everything in baseball demands a steady head, which holds the eyes, a key to baseball success. Science tells us that things in motion stay in motion and that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Those concepts are critical to the baseball player. To react at a moment in explosive ways requires avoiding inertia and building up power. Pitchers’, hitters’, and throwers’ motions are all about the science of coiling and explosion.
Finally, understanding the bodies’ anatomy helps ballplayers put all the moving parts together. It only takes one out of sync body part to lead to baseball, hitting, throwing, fielding and pitching failure. Yes, ballplayers must know scientific principles.
Baseball Education from English Class
“How many players hit off the tee at home this week?” English class is about putting things in the correct places. It’s putting one word after another into grammar correct sequence to make sense of it all. One word followed up with phrases form sentences. Sentences combine into paragraphs that lead to finished papers. It’s a building process to arrive at perfection. Baseball players must begin with the little things of hitting off the batting tee. They add in some flipped ball work before taking batting practice. They build a swing before putting it all together in game at-bats. Success or failure, they go back to the drawing board and do it all again. English class teaches kids that there are no shortcuts to success, it’s one step at a time, with nouns and verbs necessary. Ballplayers must go through the same process with every phase of their game. Yes, ballplayers must know English.
Baseball Education from Reading and Writing Class
Reading and writing is about forming communication skills. It’s about crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. One misspelled word changes the whole meaning. Baseball games entail an enormous amount of communication. Before every pitch, signs pass from the bench to players, before moving from player to player. When balls are in play, communication is necessary to complete plays and avoid injuries. Once communication is missing along the way, mistakes follow in baseball. The better the interaction among players and coaches, the better the chances of winning. Yes, baseball players must know how to read and write in order to communicate.
Baseball Education from Gym Class
Gym class is about the exercise and control of the body. There was a time when playing baseball and top physical condition were not necessary. Those days are gone. If ballplayers are to succeed, they have to be bigger, stronger and faster. Physical education classes expose kids to sports that maximize every body part. Baseball training begins with giving one’s all in gym class. Players who go through the motions in gym class will do the same in baseball games. No doubt about it, baseball players must learn from gym class to develop strong bodies and determination skills.
The point of all this is helping kids understand the importance of school. Too often, athletes believe sports will be their ticket to a successful future. The classroom is the only sure path to success. The classroom teaches ballplayers about learning from mistakes and discipline. School and baseball are about hard work and reaching potential. Finally, school and baseball education teach socializing skills with adults and peers.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years and writes of his experiences with over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth. Combining his playing, coaching and parenting stories, he continues to help create better baseball and sporting experiences for both athletes and their parents with his writings. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” and “Raising an Athlete,” with his third book “Creating a Season to Remember” in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. Plug in Jack Perconte at YouTube and find over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos or watch them here