Tag Archives: sports

SMALL ADJUSTMENT CHANGED MY GAME

I’ve heard that life without a little bit of humor and a dash of fantasy can be boring! Sometimes we must dare to explore the outer fringes of reality in order to find enjoyment with things we do. With that in mind, please proceed with caution.

I actually made a resolution this year, which is something I don’t normally do. It wasn’t anything noble such as saving the whales or helping bring peace in the world. It was simply for me to find a way to experience some success playing a game I love—used to love is probably more appropriate in recent years.

You see, I’ve been playing golf for about fifty years, which amounts to over five thousand rounds chasing a little white ball around in the great outdoors. I started each round with the goal of scoring par (72) or lower. I think I have succeeded two times in my life, which gives a paltry success rate of 0.04%. Obviously, that’s not very good. In fact, it’s downright disgusting, frustrating, and borders on a level of insanity no one should endure.

Why would anyone want to continue doing something when the odds of failure are a whopping 99.96% that they will? Crazy, right? I certainly wouldn’t gamble in a Vegas casino with those odds. Heck, I probably wouldn’t try to walk across a street if the odds were 99.96% that I wouldn’t reach the other side safely.

Therefore, I reached a time in life when I had to do something to improve my less than 1% success rate with golf or quit playing. I decided it was time for me to get some help for my depressingly horrible golf game because I didn’t want to quit.

No, I didn’t seek advice from a psychiatrist, although that would probably be a good idea too. I simply presented my problem to a local golfing guru, Slice Woods. After spending ten minutes watching me hit a few shots, Slice told me all I needed to do was make one small adjustment—anyone can do it, he said. Really?

I was doubtful at first, but I did as Slice suggested. I even joined a local league and my results have been amazing! I now score 72 or lower every time I play. That’s almost a 100% success rate! Unbelievable, right? I wish I had made this small change fifty years ago. I’m so excited that I’m considering trying to qualify for the senior tour next year. What? Seriously?!?

So, what small change did Slice suggest I make? He said it was time for me to start using the one-hand-three-finger grip. At first, I thought he had lost his mind. I couldn’t image how that would help me. I had serious reservations about Slice’s abilities as an instructor until he showed me exactly how easy it was to do.

I admit, on my first dozen or so attempts, the ball still had a mind of its own and didn’t go exactly in the direction I was aiming. I was discouraged, but Slice encouraged me to keep trying. After several more attempts, the one-hand-three-finger grip actually started working perfectly—I even hit a pin.

Yay! I had discovered, with Slice’s help of course, a secret method for scoring well in golf—just about every time! It’s great being able to enjoy the fruits of my new grip!

The great part about this simple change is I only had to sacrifice a few things. I no longer walk around in the clean-fresh air on neatly trimmed grass, chase tiny-white balls around in the snake-infested woods, or look at scenery like this:

Because of my one-hand-three-finger grip, I now have the pleasure of walking around indoors on hardwood floors. The ball returns to me automatically and there are no beautiful landscapes to distract me from my game. In addition, I get to play on the same fairway the entire round. How cool is that?

This is now my new view for the entire match:

In order to help make my transition go a little smoother, I actually use a bowling ball that looks just like a golf ball, only it’s much larger—much, much larger and weighs 15 pounds!

My game is now awesome! Oh, what crazy things frustrated golfers will do to score a smooth 72! I even use a golf scorecard to record my bowling scores and that makes me feel a whole lot better about my golf game.

The best part comes when I’m sitting around the table after a match talking to the guys. I can’t help but chuckle to myself. They actually think their bowling scores of 260 or higher are good, but I know better. My score is usually 72 or lower, and they have no idea how happy it makes me. I proudly yell, “I shot a 72 today! Yay!”

I can’t wait to tell my golfing buddies about scoring 72 or lower just about every time I play. They are going to be so jealous! Unfortunately, there are two huge downsides—I can’t tell them what game or where I’ve been playing. Now, that’s a bummer of gigantic proportions! Oops! I think I just told them.

Oh, there’s another bonus because of my grip change. Unlike golf, bowling allows me to play every day of the year—rain, shine, sleet, snow, and even at night! Who needs all that good-fresh air and the beautiful sights of the great outdoors to enjoy life when you can do it in a bowling alley where the weather is always perfect? Right? Right? I can’t hear you!

If you think about it, there really are some similarities between golfing and bowling:

Both have pins that are your targets

Both are best played down the middle

Both require controlled hooks and slices

Both are played using spherical balls

Both have birdies: eagles in golf and turkeys in bowling

Both require good hand eye coordination

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you know I’m joking about all this. Please forgive me if my little golf-bowling juxtaposition offended any avid bowlers out there. That was certainly not my intent. Although I’m not worth a flying-zip-a-dee-doo-dah at golf or bowling, I simply prefer playing golf to bowling and no other sport allowed me to make the juxtaposition effectively.

Yes, I know bowling a 72 is a horrible score, but it’s certainly a great score for a duffer in golf. If you enjoy bowling over golf, that’s super! Bowling is also a great sport that requires lots of skill and concentration.

I have also found that people bowling in the lane next to me don’t appreciate me yelling, “FORE!” when my ball jumps the gutter into their lane, which happens often. I’m not sure if they’re getting mad at me for yelling fore or because I occasionally knock down a couple of their pins. Hey, I’m trying my best.

On a serious note, use your spare time doing things that make you happy, even if you have to use a juxtaposition to do so. Life is too short to do otherwise!

Enjoy your game no matter what it is, and remember, you can always juxtapose it when your game goes south.

Looking forward to seeing you at the bowling alley—I mean the golf course.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

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NEW RULES TURNING GOLF UPSIDE DOWN

This is Chip Shotmaster of GOLF TV reporting to you from the headquarters of the TUSGA, one of golf’s new governing associations. TUSGA President, Slice Hook, no relation to Captain Hook, just made an announcement about two significant changes to the rules of golf that will turn the golfing world upside down—literally. These changes are to go into effect immediately.

Both changes were unanimous decisions by the TUSGA board of directors after having received numerous complaints about the antiquated scoring method used to determine winners in golf.

The now defunct method created too much emotional stress for the players in today’s “participation trophy” society. These changes will create more opportunities for lesser skilled players to receive first-place trophies.

In addition to scoring changes, golf’s callous, politically incorrect term used to define player capabilities is unacceptable. The policy of ranking player’s abilities based on their average scores is cruel and demeaning. The concept known here to date as “handicap” is no longer applicable.

The two rules are as stated below:

Mr. Hook added, “The TUSGA board members noticed a substantial increase in the number of birdies, eagles, and albatrosses being shot by players around the world and felt it was their duty to protect all fowl. By making the highest score in golf the winner as is done in all other sports, we believe fewer players will have the desire to shoot these fine-feathered creatures of the sky. It’s a win-win situation for the fowl and the less talented players around the world. We will be putting pressure on the PGA, R&A, USGA, and LPGA organizations to implement similar changes to the rules of golf.”

Chip Shotmaster: “Mr. Hook, many people may not be aware of your organization. Can you tell our viewers what the acronym, TUSGA, means?

Slice Hook: “Sure Chip. TUSGA is the Total Unlimited Scoring Golf Association. It’s an organization devoted to bolstering the efforts of less talented golfers and protecting wildlife at the same time. These two recent changes will also lower the cost per stroke for all golfers and make the game more affordable for all who love the game.”

“Mr. Hook, won’t these changes also increase the time required to play eighteen holes of golf?”

Slice Hook: “That’s one of the wonderful side effects these changes will have on the game, Chip. They allow players to consume most of a day to play one round. We expect many players might start pushing to make golf a nine-hole event—at least that’s what the TUSGA is considering in the future.”

Chip Shotmaster: “Thank you, Mr. Hook. Folks, that’s the golfing news of today. The TSUGA is definitely turning the golfing world upside down. Now, back to the studio with Kitty Woods for more details on how these changes will impact the 2018 Masters.”

Kitty Woods: “Thank you for that report, Chip. Now, for more on the Masters…”

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

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“HOME PLATE” – COACH JOHN SCOLINOS

My good friend (Claire S.) recently shared this wonderful article with me. It’s a powerful message about coaching, parenting, and life. Well worth reading! Enjoy the message from Coach Scolinos.

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In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

Homeplate 17 Inches

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … 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?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and 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?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

(copied post – author unknown)

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Don’t widen the plate! Accountability in life is a must! Everything we do in life has consequences.

If you are interested in reading a story about a young boy learning life-lessons as he pursues his dream to play baseball, I invite you to read ON GREEN DIAMONDS: Pursuing a Dream. It’s a good story for readers from preteen to grandparents, and all coaches. Available on Amazon.com

Have a great day!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor  LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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YOUTH DADDY-BALL AND ME

There was a time in life about one-hundred years ago when I played youth baseball. In those days, the term “Daddy-Ball” didn’t exist—at least I never heard it used. Yes, dads actually coached teams their own children played on way back then, just as they do now. However, it seems things are a bit different today or maybe my childhood view of the world was blind compared to the way I see things as a grandfather. BTW – this article also applies to grandparents who are involved in youth sports!

In today’s world, the term Daddy-Ball tends to have a negative connotation. Why is this? Well, in some cases when a parent coaches the team their child plays on, they place their blood-kin in “star” positions whether or not the child’s skills justify such assignments. It’s hard for any parent not to do this when they tend to live their lives vicariously through their children. They want their precious ones vaulted into the bright lights of stardom. Their child bats at the top of the lineup, pitches, and/or plays shortstop—those highly coveted positions on the field. This situation also applies to any sport or activity. Sometimes the child actually deserves the “prime” position, but in many cases, they don’t. Hence, the downside of Daddy-Ball becomes evident by the buzz in the stands from parents of children who are on the outside looking in.

A downside of Daddy-Ball occurs when capable children don’t receive the playing opportunities the “chosen” ones do. They play the less-glamorous positions in youth sports or sit the bench; they don’t have the opportunities to develop their skills to be the best they can be. I’ve seen this scenario play out many times with my grandchildren in the past ten years. If you disagree, I invite you to visit a ballpark catering to youth sports and observe the action for yourself.

However, Daddy-Ball doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. Thank goodness, it’s not. Many dads out there enjoy giving ALL kids the opportunity to shine. The following true story describes how my father handled Daddy-Ball long before the term existed.

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My dad coached the baseball team I played on when I was ten-years old. However, he was always harder on me than he was the rest of my teammates—he didn’t cut me any slack. In fact, he was downright tough on me—the way it should be for kids playing today. Tough love is not easy for any parent to practice, but it is necessary sometimes. In fact, it’s actually a good thing for many reasons.

VFW TeamDadSon2

Putting my humble nature aside for a moment, I thought I was a decent player. I was a pitcher—that coveted position on youth baseball teams. Unfortunately, I allowed my “average” physical prowess to warp my mind before a game one night. It was my turn to be the starting pitcher, but I opened my big mouth and told Dad I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to pitch. However, that was not true—I felt fine and really did want to pitch. Yes, I had a lot of growing up to do. I was an immature kid who wanted to hear praises for my nonexistent superb-pitching skills—to hear that the team needed me to pitch in order for us to win the game. I was selfish, foolish even, and deserved what came my way.

What followed was the best thing that could have happened to me. After making my statement, my dad didn’t say a word to me—no begging, no praising, nothing! He announced the lineup for the game by calling out the batting order, citing the names and positions for the players. To the dismay of my selfish-little mind, he didn’t say my name. In fact, Dad had drawn a line through my name on the scorecard and replaced it with another boy. It was a boy who had never pitched before.

M Pitching BW1

After the first inning, I questioned Dad why I was not pitching and he unsympathetically answered, “Son, we need our best pitcher on the mound tonight. You aren’t the man for the job because you feel bad. At least that’s what you told me, so I did as you asked. Your position is to sit on the bench and cheer for the team. Support the pitcher on his first outing. You ought to be able to that regardless of how bad you feel.”

I thought, “That didn’t go as planned. I should have kept my big mouth shut about feeling bad!

Dad sat my wise-rear-end attitude on the bench—for the entire game! I didn’t play at all that night, but our team still won without me. The new pitcher did a wonderful job on the mound. I guess there’s nothing like having a little salt rubbed in an open wound to help amplify a life-lesson—a self-inflicted wound at that. Welcome to the real world Little Tommy—it’s tough out there!

BenchWarmerHat1

I’m not sure what Dad would have said to me had the team lost that game, but I feel sure this story would have a slightly different conclusion and a few additional lessons-learned. I grew up that night and learned some valuable life-lessons that have served me well. Dad’s silent method of making me think hard about what I had done was a perfect example of good Daddy-Ball and parenting. He knew I didn’t feel bad, but he got his point across in a subtle yet effective manner. Here’s what I learned the hard way.

  • Never say you feel bad when you don’t—life will pass you by in a flash.
  • Suck it up and be a bulldog when things don’t go your way.
  • Don’t be selfish—the world of “me-me” does not exist, nor should it.
  • There is always someone waiting to fill your shoes—you are not the only fish in the sea, so always give your best.
  • All kids on a team deserve an opportunity in the spotlight of prime positions.
  • Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
  • If you think you’re good/great at what you do, don’t seek praise; it will come your way if truly deserved.
  • Be ready to serve in any “position” you’re called upon to do, and that includes sitting on the bench to give others a chance.
  • You never know what you can do until you give it your best.

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In retrospect, my dad helped me more that night than I thought at the time—he taught me about life in the real world. For that, I am truly blessed. So, if you are a parent-coach, don’t forget the other players on your team. They deserve a chance to learn and grow their skills too. They may actually be better than your blood-kin. If not, at least you gave them a chance to rise to the occasion, and you may have helped a future shining star take the first step to the Hall of Fame.

As a coach, parent, or grandparent, we should praise a child when he/she does well, teach them how to face adversity, and be there to help when they fall down. However, be careful not to praise children for mediocre performances for you may create a little monster if you do. Learning from one’s mistakes is a good teacher since we will not always succeed in everything we do.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (KJV)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.

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