Cal Embarks on 12-City Book Tour

April 5, 2006 - Cal Ripken, Jr. is currently on a multi-city book tour that kicked-off on April 4th in his hometown of Baltimore, MD. Ripken's new book, Parenting Young Athletes the Ripken Way, written in conjunction with noted sports psychology expert Rick Wolff and published by Gotham Books, is now available nationwide through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Book Sense.

Few athletes embody sportsmanship and fair play as perfectly as Cal Ripken, Jr. Since he retired from baseball in 2001, he has devoted his time to teaching baseball and helping grow the game at the grassroots level.

Like many parents, Ripken is troubled by what he sees in youth sports: a competitive intensity that removes the element of fun from playing. Now, drawing on his experiences as a father, a player, and a coach to his charges at his youth baseball-based organization, Ripken Baseball, Cal offers his insights and advice on how to approach organized sports with your kids to ensure they have the best experience possible, stay fit, and enjoy themselves.

This book provides insights from both Cal and Kelly Ripken and will serve as a tool for any parent struggling with the pressures placed on kids in sports today. It covers all the basics including sportsmanship, returning the game to the kids, nutrition, performance pressures, fun games and exercises, burn out and much more. It is Ripken's hope that his ideas and advice on this timely issue will provoke thought and discussion among other parents everywhere.

Wisk Laundry Detergent is the official sponsor of the Parenting Young Athletes the Ripken Way book tour. Since 2004 Wisk and Cal Ripken, Jr. have been working together on a campaign that is helping communities refurbish ball fields and encouraging kids to stay active. Wisk's "Win a Dream Field Makeover" is helping parents and children come together and share in the youth sport experience. Visit for more information.

"In order to create a healthy youth sports experience you need two things, dedicated parents and coaches and great facilities. With a partner like Wisk Laundry Detergent, we have been able to help refurbish many ball fields across the nation," commented Cal Ripken, Jr. "It was a natural fit for Wisk to be involved with my current nationwide effort to help grow youth sports."

What makes this book tour different will be the unique approach that Cal will take to each city he visits. The main component of the tour will include a public book signing in each city but Ripken also felt it was very important to reach out to the communities as well.

"We viewed the book's release as an opportunity to continue Ripken Baseball's grassroots effort to improve the quality of youth sports across the nation" said Ripken. "With the help of good partners I am able to make a contribution to the youth athletic efforts of the cities I am visiting."

With that spirit in mind, Cal will be holding a private town hall meeting at a local school in select cities. Fifty parents and coaches who are involved with youth sports in the community will be invited to spend time discussing sports parenting issues that are affecting their communities. In addition, through the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, each city will be presented with a $5,000 league development grant to help with the growth of local youth leagues.

The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit institution created in 2001 in memory of a man regarded by many as the pre-eminent baseball teacher of all-time. Cal Ripken, Sr., who succumbed to lung cancer in 1999, spent 37 years as a player, coach, and manager in the Baltimore Orioles organization.

The mission of the foundation is to use baseball taught "The Ripken Way" to develop character and give disadvantaged youth opportunities to succeed.

In addition to providing baseball and softball programming for youth, the Foundation provides Funding Grants, Equipment Grants and Quickball Grants to community-based organizations and schools to support baseball/softball skill development, community league development and the growth and appreciation of baseball/softball programs at a grassroots level.

Parents and Coaches

An exciting new sports program is coming to the Spring- Klein- Tomball area: The Farm League with Cal Ripken Baseball and the NFL Flag Football. For the past few years many families have enjoyed the Klein Texans Flag football program and The Farm League baseball. Now with these new affiliations, we are expanding and offering some exciting new leagues. The Farm League was created to offer a great playing environment for both kids and PARENTS. Our goal is to give more control to the teams and the parents. Whatever your teams goals are - tournaments, fun, or learning skills, we will work with you to achieve them. We understand your busy lives, and we do not want the kids to have to miss out on any opportunities to play these sports.

Once your children reach the age of 10 + they will begin to decide which sports they want to concentrate on. For example, in NW Houston soccer is very big. We have noticed that these players miss out on football or baseball due to their busy soccer schedule. The Farm League will have minimal overlap between sports. This way your children can try new things while maintaining their core sport.

By structuring our leagues in this manner we are giving options that have not been available before. Your child can now play Farm League sports for competitive leagues or to gain exposure to a new sport. We think every child should try a couple seasons of each sport so that they can find out what they have a talent for and most importantly what they enjoy.

Do you ever feel like your weekends are over booked with too many activities? Do your children like to play multiple sports and are forced to choose only one? Do you want a league that allows more parental input? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then The Farm League is the answer you have been looking for. Come and enjoy Cal Ripkin Baseball and NFL Flag Football. We hope to see you next season

The number one priority for youth baseball coaches should be to provide the best baseball experience possible for their players. One part of this process that often is overlooked is coaching the parents.

This doesn't mean that you should be trying to teach the parents to understand the game better or to have them master the game's skills. Instead it means that as a coach you should help them understand their role in maximizing their child's overall baseball experience.

We talked about the importance of holding a preseason meeting with your parents to discuss your teaching philosophies, feelings about playing time, the schedule of practices and games and enlisting their support at practices or games. One other thing that you can talk to them about is how they can become "good baseball parents." This can be done via a handout or by simply speaking to them about their roles in creating a positive experience for everyone involved. Some ideas follow. You may want to consider using these concepts to form your own parental code of conduct.

Reinforce the Concept of Teamwork
How many times do you attend a youth baseball game and notice that a particular parent only cheers for his or her child? This probably happens at one time or another during every youth sporting event played in this country. As a coach, it can be really hard to teach a young player the importance of supporting his teammates or playing within a team concept if his parents only cheer for him. Explain to the parents that your job as a coach is to provide an all-around educational experience for the players. Tell them that one of the greatest life lessons that baseball teaches, one that carries over into almost every facet of our daily lives, is the importance of teamwork. Parents are the most influential figures in most kids' lives, so stress to the parents that you want them cheering for all of the players or none of the players. Likewise, make sure to tell the parents that you would like them to make a point to congratulate every player after every game - win or lose.

Maintain an Even Keel
It's easy to cheer, scream and be happy when you child's team scores 11 runs in the first inning. It's much harder to mask your disappointment when that same team falls behind 12-11 in the sixth. Kids feed off the atmosphere at the ballpark. If everyone is full of laughter, smiles and support when things are going great and dead silent when adversity hits, don't you think the players are going to sense that and put more pressure on themselves? Remember, winning is not the ultimate goal when it comes to youth baseball. Making sure that the kids have a good time and learn something are the most important goals. Coaches should tell their parents to maintain an even keel - don't get too high or too low - and then lead by example. The last thing we want is for a kid to be standing on the field thinking that he has failed.

Another thing to be conscious of when it comes to maintaining an even keel is excessive criticism - toward an individual player or the entire team. Remember that we are dealing with kids who are fragile. One negative experience can cause someone to give up the game forever. Mental or physical mistakes should never be addressed - by coaches or parents - in public view on the field. If a kid messes up, believe us, he knows it. Pointing it out in front of everyone - even when doing it in an instructive manner - is not going to help that player's mental state or make him a better player. Coaches should wait until the player comes off the field, and parents probably should wait until well after the game - either that night after they get home or the next day. Nothing does more to shatter a young player's self confidence or self esteem than correcting him or reprimanding him publicly. Make it clear to the parents that you are the coach and will handle everything on the field.

Don't Blame the Umpires
We all know that umpires make mistakes, but it is only in very, very rare instances that an umpire actually costs a team a game. One of our primary goals as youth baseball coaches should be to teach the kids the importance of respecting authority. Like the police in our hometown, umpires are the voice of authority on the baseball field and should be treated as such. Coaches must tell parents prior to the season that verbal abuse of umpires will not be tolerated - not because umpires are always right, but because of the message it sends to the players. Having respect for authority is one of our duties as American citizens. The coach is the only person who ever should be allowed to question an umpire, and when he does it always should be in a conversational, professional and courteous manner.

Cheer for the Other Team
Parents can set a great example for their kids by cheering for the opposing team when there is an outstanding play or performance. Coaches can set the tone by shaking opposing players' hands, helping them up if they are injured or telling them that they did something well. Most times parents will pick up on this and will join in. Soon, the players on the team will start following suit, and the team will get a reputation for good sportsmanship - win or lose. Like teamwork, winning and losing graciously is a lesson that carries over throughout our lives and can earn us a tremendous amount of respect from our peers.

Ask Parents for Assistance
It's no secret that many youth baseball coaches -- and sometimes coaches up in to the high school level as well -- are volunteers in need of assistance. Coaches should reinforce the concept of teamwork among parents (instead of supporting just their own children) by openly asking for assistance from parents at practices and games. Don't ask for a large commitment. See if one parent of each child will volunteer to assist with one practice and one game. Assure them that you are not asking them to be Joe Torre, just to come to a practice and toss the kids some balls or to make sure the dugout is safe and remains under control during a game. The parents are more likely to take ownership in the team and to get to know and want to support the players if they feel part of it. On the other hand, the players will see all the different parents pitching in to make their season a success - further emphasizing the power of teamwork.

Set the Tone
Addressing parents can be a difficult and sensitive issue for coaches. Failure to take control and set some ground rules before the season can be disastrous, however. Most times, if parents sense that the coach has a plan and understand that all he wants to do is to provide their children with the best possible experience, they will be much easier to deal with. There are always going to be parents who cross the line one way or another. Some parents continually will cross the line. As a coach, as long as you set the parameters up front and explain why you approach things the way you do - even consider giving the parents something to sign off on - your chances of creating the atmosphere of teamwork, good sportsmanship, cooperation and support that you desire (among players and parents) are pretty good.

If you are not proactive, however, and you choose to avoid the parental issue altogether prior to the season, you will find it nearly impossible to successfully address the issues as they arise throughout the season. This can lead to public second-guessing, criticism and a lack of respect toward you from the parents. As we know, parental attitudes often filter down to their kids, which can create an atmosphere that is completely opposite of what you are hoping to establish.