Saturday, November 3

6 Ways Parents Can Insure Softball Success

As a softball parent I know the challenges I face in wanting every on the field success for my daughter. As adults we always see the big picture and do all we can to help our kids avoid mistakes on and off the field.

We coach them from behind the backstop because we figure one little verbal tip from us will surely make the difference between success and failure in the at bat.

If our daughter is a pitcher we bark mechanics reminders to her between pitches (maybe every pitch) hoping she'll be the strike and location machine she is in practice.

A friend of mine said to me this week that it's truly amazing how involved parents are today with their kids' sports, given that our parents hardly ever showed up to watch us play (to my mom...you are the exception!!). Heck, I rode my bike to little league practice and games. As a freshman high school I rode my bike to 6am basketball practice every day!

Today, as parents, we tend to micro manage our kids' schedules from sunrise to sunset...including their sports.

Is she a game changer? Find out.

Then you add in the cost of youth sports today and I kind of feel like, as parents, we are managing our "investment" from the stands (or pacing behind the backstop or dugout...come on...you know who you are!).

Now I know that all parent involvement isn't negative. Sometimes parents yell supportive things to their daughters during the games. Sure the old "Hit that ball pumpkin" comment is always a "hoot." But this post isn't about the "I'm just happy to watch my kid play...win or lose" parents.

Because of the investment of time and money you and your athlete put into her sport she is acutely aware (even though she may never show it or mention it) of the expectations on her to excel on the diamond.

It may be a quick comment you make, your body language after a mistake on the field or poor at bat, or an all out "Do you know how much we spend every month on your softball? Between private lessons, travel dues, your new $300 bat; gas costs over $4.00 per gallon...did you know that? And your mom and I sacrifice every weekend to travel to God knows where...and for what...three strike outs and two errors? I just don't get it!"

Hopefully this is not you as a parent, but even the best meaning parents can blow a gasket if their daughter's game day performance is below their "expectations."

Here are 6 ways you, as a parent, can help insure your athlete's softball success:
  1. Reasonable expectations - Be mindful of your athlete's age, experience and competition level. No one who ever played the game was, is or will ever be PERFECT (were you perfect when you played sports??), so be extremely careful to set reasonable expectations for her performance.
  2. Help her to set goals and a reason for playing the game - With goals and a clearly defined purpose for playing your athlete will be able to summon the effort, determination and focus necessary for her to be her best in a sport that inflicts a heavy dose of failure on all who cross the white lines. When she can connect her effort (long days, pain, time away from friends) to her desired outcome (scholarship) she will be able to persevere through the tough days.
  3. Give her unconditional support - This includes supporting her team, her teammates and her coaches. It also includes you and her both focusing on her effort and the process of getting better instead of simply her results. She will look to you for approval and she toils long and hard on the diamond. Please give it to her without strings attached!
  4. Allow the coaches to coach -For your athlete to play her best she needs to know you support her team and coaches. Talking harshly about her coaches during the game to other parents, within earshot of the team or in the car on the way home only serve to undermine your athlete and her team's success. If you feel she is on the wrong team make a change, but until then let the coaches coach.
  5. Be aware of your athlete's confidence levels - As I write about often your athlete's self-confidence levels are the single biggest predictor of her game day success. All of the suggestions in this post are designed to help improve her confidence. However, for a young female athlete little things (both on and off the field) can have huge impacts on her confidence. Monitor your athlete's confidence levels by observing her body language, the tone of her voice, her eating and sleeping routine and, of course her sports and school performances. Help keep her confidence up and watch her soar!
  6. Keep the game fun - As always the you, as a parent, can keep the game in perspective for your athlete the more fun she will have. And the more fun she has the better she will play. If the sport feel more like a job than a joy to her she will feel stress and anxiety to perform, limiting her success.
Parenting is always a delicate balance. However, as your athlete advances in the game of softball and the game of life continue to be a positive influence and allow her success to unfold like a brilliant flower...one day at a time!

You might also enjoy these two related posts: 
Do We Ask Too Much From Our Kids.
Parents Beware the "60 Minute Rule"

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