Dear Fastpitch Softball Parents,
With our first tournament approaching I thought it was perfect timing to share a more personal experience. Most of you may know that I played fastpitch softball in college, however, what you probably don’t know is that I had to really work for every opportunity. You know when you watch games or players and can just see that someone was naturally talented, that wasn’t me. I was slow, and a rolly polly. I was constantly being viewed as average on the young teams I played for. Coaches would see the flashy players and focus their attention them, and I often got the short end of the stick. However, with the strong support system of my family and some close family friends I worked my butt off to earn the right to call my self a contender in fastpitch softball. With that said, the road to becoming a collegiate athlete was filled with many positive and negative events in my career. For this blog, I am going to focus on the negative and how it can affect a fastpitch softball player and any athlete.
Alisa Murphy (Outfield), Kayla Hayes (Outfield), Natasha Hawkins(First Base).
Before we start this season, I want to write and remind you that everything you say and do impacts your children. You are parenting an athlete, scratch that, you are building an athlete! You have the power to shape your children into positive, confident, and strong young women. I really want to emphasize that everything you say to your child sticks to them, some is forgotten but the criticism and negative comments about their abilities and skills will have a lasting imprint on them.
“Dad’s especially need to remember that what they say to their daughters is written in Sharpie. It can’t be erased.” -Sue Enquist, UCLA Head Coach
The Good, the bad, and the Ugly of an Athlete
Growing up in an athletic family the competitive nature and attitude was coursing through my veins even when I was in my teens. I remember every coach who doubted my abilities, and I remember the negative comments made when I didn’t perform well in Fastpitch softball. I especially remember, the comments made by my parents. As most of you may know, my Dad is somewhat of a hard head, and extreme competitor. Luckily, he had daughters who just get angry and it drives them to be better. But trust me this wasn’t, and isn’t always the case. As parents, you will slip up, you will watch your daughter strike out time and time again, make error upon error. It is up to you how you handle these situations as a parent. But I would like to remind you that pointing out all their mistakes and faults, yelling at them until your blue, and shaking your head when they make those mistakes will be imprinted in their memory, and will effect the way they play for the rest of their lives.
Your Words Have a Lasting Impact
This picture features: Deana Mower a Pitcher, Coach and daughter. Who was tragically lost when she was hit by a driver who was texting.
As a player, when we make a mistake and see our parents shake their head, or stomp away from the field. We see it! Most young athletes look at their parents after every play and at bat. Weather they do good or bad. When they see a face of dissapointment they are heartbroken. They then start to doubt their abilities. This doubt is all it takes for a 12 year old to spiral out of control during the rest of the game. Seeing your disappointment directly affects their attitude in the game. Worst of all…when they mess up, they dread the end of the game and meeting you face to face after having a bad game. Don’t be the parent that harps on every error and mistake, without any encouraging words. Don’t be the parent that curses and yells at their child over how they played. Don’t be that parent. At 12 years old your daughters just want to make you proud and do well, they are just as disappointed as you when they make mistakes. Don’t let this disappointment stick around, once a game is done it’s done. Now its time to focus on the next game.
She’s 12, She Will Get Over It…
You may think that just because your daughter is 12 years old and not playing for an 18 gold team that all this doesn’t matter. I ask you to reconsider. I was 12 once, I have been cursed at, yelled at, and cut down by coaches and sometime parents. I remember those comments and how it felt. I have also seen first hand when a young athlete feels the pressure and disappointment of their parents or coach and have quit playing fastpitch softball. They give in, give up, and throw in the towel. Not because they weren’t good, but because someone got to them and made them feel unsuccessful and it wasn’t worth it. When someone loses love for the game it is heartbreaking. I encourage you to talk positively to your young athletes, show them that you support them 100% and don’t show doubts in their abilities. There is a difference in constructive criticism and cutting down a player. Remember, you have to say 10 positive comments, to make up for 1 negative when dealing with attitudes and self esteem.
“Softball and baseball are two of the only sports that you can fail 7 times out of 10 and still be considered successful.”
Failure in Fastpitch Athletes
I hate to break it to you, but your child will fail. As the quote says above, you can fail 7/10 and still be successful. Your athlete will have to cope with a lot of failure, and learn to be strong willed and have a good mind-set. This is one of the hardest things to teach young athletes, coaches can’t do it alone, we need your help. We need the people at home to be on board too, and help support the players and encourage them to use their errors and strikeouts as a teaching tool for their next at bat. There is always something to be learned from failure. Athletes who don’t cope well with failure and have a bad attitude are like a cancer to a team, and to themselves. When an athlete throws bats, helmits, gloves, and shuts down after a strikeout it is a sign of weak character and poor sportsmanship. This will not be tolerated or supported on our team.
The Story of a Fastpitch Softball Player
I will leave you with this story. The summer before my Senior year of High School I was playing at a big tournament in Sacramento. All the coaches I had been talking to were going to be there and said they would come watch. I was extremely nervous, excited, and just wanted to do well. I wanted a
Improve your child batting, encourage, don’t cut them down.
scholarship! The first day went well, I hit pretty good and fielding was impeccable. Sunday rolls around…everyone is their to watch, San Jose State and St. Mary’s are right behind home plate watching me. Bad news, looks like this was not my game, I sucked it up! Not only did I have an error at third, I couldn’t hit a ball to save my life! It was like I had just picked up a bat for the first time. Every error I could see the disappointment on my dad’s face. I knew I screwed up. After the game was over I wanted to ball, but I held it together. My dad started in on me, telling me how I was never going to get a scholarship playing like I did, and that they just left and how bad I had did. I was heartbroken I thought I failed my team, my family, and my dad. I have never forgot that feeling. But I still didn’t break down, I stayed strong. As we walked out to the car, we saw SJSU and St. Mary’s they both wanted to talk to me! They said they were waiting to see me fail and see how I handled failure. Apparently they had seen me do really well at other games, were just waiting to see if my attitude changed in times of pressure and failure. Who would have thought! They said they were so pleased with how I handled my strikeouts, and how much I lead my team that they wanted me to come on official visits. These visits eventually lead to a Scholarship at San Jose State.
The truth of the matter is, even though my dad had a slight freak out. (You can’t always be perfect.) He had taught me to deal with failure and how to have a poker face when playing. He often says “ Don’t show emotion, don’t show your weakness.” I remembered these words from when I was 10 or so and they have always stuck with me. I believe without my families encouragement and competitive nature to push me I would never have been given a scholarship. I wish this for every one of your daughters, that is our goals as coaches. Your child can’t become a D1 athlete over night. So all I ask is that you remember that everything you say and do will mold them into the player they will become. Think before you criticize, and always show your support.
Good luck this weekend!