Image credit: Lane Adams (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Lane Adams’ professional baseball career required patience. Known more as a basketball player as an amateur (he’d signed with Missouri State), Adams was instead drafted by the Royals, and spent his next three seasons at three short-season levels, catching up on at-bats.
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Adams moved slowly, needing time at each level to acclimate, get through early failure, and eventually thrive. Patience from his parent organization paid off, and the former hooper became a big league outfielder, seeing time in the show with the Royals and Braves before retiring after the 2021 season.
Now a private hitting instructor (you can find him under the Instagram handle @okswings), Adams hopes sports parents will carry the same kind of thinking that benefitted him in his playing career.
“Failures happen, mistakes happen all the time, the game is built around it. So give them a break,” said Adams. “You’re not going to avoid them, so just encourage them.”
Adams joined the latest episode of our ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ series on sports parenting to divulge wisdom learned during 10+ years of his professional career and his time thus far in private instruction. When it comes to the number one factor of positive sports parenting, Adams
is quick to point to an obvious trait.
“Encouragement is definitely the biggest thing,” said Adams. “Baseball and softball, where the game is so wired on failure, you see parents become so impatient after a weekend or game performance—and the game’s hard, and it only gets harder as you go up. You want to make sure they’re having fun, and that they’re looking forward to playing.”
As a private hitting instructor, Adams primarily works with high school-aged players, but knows that youth athletes of all ages are entering the world of private instruction. Time spent in a hitting or pitching lesson represents only a fraction of a player’s weekly time spent practicing, and parents (whether they have background in the sport or not) can play a big role in the success of helping a player evaluate and digest their instruction.
“The biggest thing is asking questions,” said Adams. “What’d you learn today, how are you going to apply it on your own (…), you can come in here once a week, twice a week, but it’s not going to do anything if you’re not applying it to yourself. The biggest thing for parents is understanding the application process outside of the private work.”
If you ask Adams, sports parenting is a lot like regular parenting, especially with young children. It takes patience and understanding that things might not always come so easy—and that’s perfectly okay.
“It’s easy as a parent to lose sight of how hard this game is,” said Adams. “It’s not only in baseball, but in life in general. There’s going to be some really hard trial times in life. You want to have the diligence and the competitiveness to keep trucking.”
Sports parenting is hard, but according to Adams, the most important job is pretty simple.
“Support them in the good and bad as best you can. Be a body they can hug to celebrate, be a shoulder for them to feel bad about themselves on. Be there for them overall,” he said.
On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ former big league outfielder Lane Adams joins to talk all things sports parenting, including red flags, dealing with failure and how to handle the car ride home.