At the first baseball training session I ever attended, one of the old salts was moaning about the limited schedule which had been drawn up for that season — “To be any good at this game” he said, “you have to play it a lot.” I have since learned to my cost how right he is. Obviously practice makes perfect at any sport, but baseball above all repays your work — a pitcher needs to be able to repeat his exact mechanics over and over again to deliver success; the infielder needs to take hundreds of ground balls, maybe thousands, before he gets to do it smoothly, with the glove and the ball mere extensions of his very self.
But that level of repetition is simply not available to many of us. I am coming to the end of my first “dry spell” of the year, when work and family keep me away from the game for weeks. I have missed a training session, a game, another training session, and then another game. It'll be a miracle if I remember anything by the time I pull on the glove again! At the very least, the break means you have to get your eye in when you come back. The fact that we're talking about baseball perhaps makes this problem more acute — for example, I have been kicking a football since I was five years old, and the game is pretty well hard-wired in my head, while the relatively new sport of baseball requires rather more conscious work.
Of course, this situation is not unique to me. It affects lots of us. We have some extraordinarily dedicated people at the club, who have helped create four adult teams and a flourishing little league, and I marvel at how they manage it. I can't even fall back on the simple theory that they don't have the small children who demand my time — because some of them do. Bang goes my best excuse for the weaknesses of my game! Perhaps there is no solution to the problem. How does the lowly amateur make time to satisfy the needs of his game, and yet still satisfy the other needs of his life?