Image credit: (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
Former big league righthander Chuckie Fick grew up with a great baseball dad. His father Chuck, an MLB scout for over thirty years, coached Chuckie and his brother Christian in a variety of sports, not just baseball.
Powered by RedCircle
When asking the younger Fick what makes his father such a great sports parent and coach, Chuckie doesn’t point right to his baseball knowledge, or big league pedigree.
“A lot of time when people were new around him, they were intimidated by him because of the title that he held or his background in the game,” said Fick. “What he did was he created such a loose and fun environment that he was the biggest kid on the field at all times. That allowed everyone to let their shoulders down, exhale, and be themselves.”
Together, the Ficks are part of the team that runs the SoCal Giants, an elite California travel ball organization working with high school players to help get them to the next level. Even at the highest levels of high school baseball, the Ficks stick to a simple creed.
“The more fun you have, the more success you’re going to have,” said Fick.
Not every youth athlete is going to have a parent with decades of professional experience in that sport, but fortunately, a baseball background isn’t required to be a great baseball parent. You don’t need to know how to grip a slider to give a kid a great experience in youth sports.
“Whether you have a background in baseball or not, it doesn’t matter,” said Fick. “One, you’re the keeper of the calendar. You’re making sure your kid is there, prepared and on time. Secondly, you’re their biggest fan. You’re not just the biggest fan of your own child, but the biggest fan of the coach putting together the practice plan, running the hitting station, running the defensive station and every other kid on that team.”
Fick joined Baseball America’s latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ to talk a variety of sports parent subjects, including:
Parental emphasis on winning:
“When I get a call from a scout or college coach, they don’t ask, ‘Did his team go 11-17 last year, or 17-11?’” said Fick. “They want to know is he a good teammate, is he a hard worker, does he communicate well and oh by the way, how are his grades?”
Talking to your child after a tough game:
“I think, first and foremost, you let the kid bring it up,” said Fick. “If anything, ask them, ‘How’d you feel about today?’ Let it be really open-ended (…), if you have any sort of drive to be something, you’re your biggest critic. We don’t need to be told that we didn’t stay back on the 0-2 breaking ball. We don’t need to be told that the error in the second inning was crucial to us losing the game today—we already know that. If your son or daughter wants to talk about that, they’ll talk about that.”
Talking to your child after a good game:
“I do this with my own daughter, I tell her, ‘I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you being a great kid, great student, I’m very proud of the work you put in and I’m very proud you got that hit today too,’ and it becomes just a part of the bigger conversation and positive reinforcement,” said Fick.
A sports parent red flag:
“I think a big red flag is when the parent of an athlete has higher highs and lower lows than the athlete playing the game,” said Fick. “We can’t live vicariously through our children because of things we did or didn’t accomplish in our lives.”
When it comes time to sum up what parents should keep in mind with sports and other activities, Fick again points to something he learned from his father.
“This is not just for baseball, it’s for everything,” said Fick. “All of these things that are going on in your athlete’s life, it is not the World Serious. It is just a game. Let them go play the game, let them have fun.”
On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ Chuckie Fick returns to talk over some dos and don’ts of sports parenting.