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Plant City Observer Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 9 months ago

What’s on Kline’s Mind? Learning by example helps young athletes

Kids in sports often benefit from just watching older athletes work.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

I’ve always thought sports and journalism share at least one major trait: the gap between learning how to play your role and actually doing it in the field is much wider than you’d think.

It’s good to hit the books and classrooms beforehand and read up on what you’re supposed to do. It’s also good to get experience in the field. But there needs to be a medium to make the transition from film room to field smoother, and that’s why we sometimes just need to watch people work. That’s why I love seeing clinics like last Saturday’s baseball “doubleheader” pop up around town.

At the Mike Sansone Park and MLK ball fields, clinics for Plant City Little League and RBI Baseball players brought in preps from Plant City High School, collegiate and professional athletes to show our kids how they play ball. Not only is it cool for them to meet these older, more developed players — and I know firsthand how much the younger crowd looks up to Plant City-area high school athletes, thanks to Athlete of the Week interviews — but it’s great for their own development to watch people who still play the game every day.

These are the people kids are trying to emulate when they dream of becoming pro or amateur athletes one day.

It would be awesome if camps and clinics like these happened all the time, but I know it’s not always possible. And while we can easily catch a game around town, it’s not always possible to bring the kids out to watch practices. Unless you’re Allen Iverson, anybody can benefit from watching athletes at a higher level practice. You might even pick up on some drills to work on in the driveway or yard in the summer, and that’s huge.

There are exceptions around here if you count combat sports. You can go to Plant City Boxing Gym and watch some extremely talented pros work almost every day. You can go to the karate, jiujitsu and MMA gyms and learn a lot from people who regularly travel for (and medal in) competitions.

If you have kids in sports and hear about clinics like these happening around town, I think you should try your best to make some time to attend. They make great supplements to the instruction the kids already get from their coaches. If you coach, too, even better — if you’re always open to learning, you’re always getting better at teaching.

Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013.

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