Monday, June 22, 2015

The Matheny Manifesto by Mike Matheny

This book came to me at an appropriate time...during the middle of summer little league.  My boys range from ages 8 to 12 and have been involved in baseball since their earliest opportunity.  I decided to review this book mostly because I thought it might be of interest to my oldest son.  After having been a player, parent, coach, and now manager - Mike Matheny knows baseball.  He wrote a letter explaining his coaching philosophy to a group of youth parents, which has now become known as the Matheny Manifesto.  So here's my take on it...

This book is a mixture of coaching philosophy and biography.  For the professional baseball fan, you will enjoy all of it.  For a mom like me who is more focused on my son's character development - I'd say there is some great content, but it is only partially geared toward youth players.  There are many stories about the big leagues, but fewer real-life examples related to youth and how to apply his coaching principles to that age group.

The first half of the book is directed toward coaches and parents.  Matheny addresses some of the problems he has seen in the attitudes and behaviors in the stands and suggests a better way.  He models his coaching style after Coach John Wooden. He writes "Wooden believed success ought to be tied not to achievement, wealth, or fame but to how close a person came to their potential.  He wanted his students to see success not in terms of results but in terms of effort."

Matheny knows there are more important things than winning.  He focuses on character development in a way that I find admirable.  The second half of his book talks about the key character qualities that he tries to develop in his players: leadership, confidence, teamwork, faith, class, character, toughness, and humility.  He writes "On our youth team, we made a conscious effort to make a bigger deal of the character stuff than the baseball stuff.  We always made a point to notice and recognize a boy who would do a task none of the others wanted to do.  Or when one showed sportsmanship to an opponent.  For instance, the boy who would go out of his way to encourage a disappointed teammate was celebrated, and then it became contagious.  Amazing how the things we adults deem important soon become the same for those we lead.".

I personally would have benefited from the book more if it had stayed focused on the arena of youth sports and left out all of the detailed major league stories.  But then again, I'm not really a baseball fan except when my boys are on the field :)  I appreciate Mike Matheny's willingness to share his experiences and stand up for his faith and the values that flow from it.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crown Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

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