Coaches and parents listen up! Have you judged your players abilities too early? A number of coaches make judgment on players when they are as young as 10 years old. They either get the “Oh ya she has potential,” or they get labeled with ” Nope, don’t see any talent there,” and this is wrong.
At 10, 11, ad 12 years old your softball players are just developing. They havent learned all the fundamentals, their bodies are still growing, and they don’t have the muscle memory of a seasoned athlete. All of these reasons could be a factor of why your young softball player isn’t the breakout star you expected her to be. I truly believe every athlete has a chance at success in softball if they put their mind to it. They don’t have to have the best talent anyone has ever seen, or the perfect 6 foot pitchers body, what they really need is a strong work ethic and a never quit attitude.
Softball Growth Years
Several factors go into determining your final height at adulthood including genetics, good nutrition, exercise, and sufficient rest. Children can expect to start growing toward their adult height with the onset of puberty, when they go through their greatest period of physical maturation.
For female children, puberty begins between the ages of 10 – 11 and is usually complete by age 15 – 17. After the onset of puberty, adolescents experience a growth spurt, which lasts up to two years. During this period of growth, female adolescents will grow up to 3 inches a year. Adolescents stop growing as puberty ends, when the growth plates where bones grow fuse.
My sister will probably kill me for saying this, but it’s true, and it will help a lot of girls. When she was younger, about 11 or 12 years old I remember throwing her balls in the road and trying to teach her first base. We had decided it was probably wise that she learn how to play first base because her pitching just wasn’t there. In fact getting the ball over the plate was questionable! We practiced and practiced on our little road, worked on her foot work to the bag, her speed, and even her catching! You see the whole time I was thinking, this isn’t looking good, I don’t know if she has the talent, I don’t know if she can play. I doubted her abilities. However, I didn’t doubt her will to succeed.
You see my sister is now a pitcher for the University of Oregon, that’s right the Ducks! She made me eat my words didn’t she. I should have known she would find a way to make me look silly, and her performance this year sure made my thoughts those years ago look really silly! She is a freshman lefty who now holds the strikeout record at U of O, and who will soon be sporting a Pac-12 Champions ring. If you haven’t heard of her by now, just google Cheridan Hawkins and you will see.
Cheridan and so many other athletes are great examples of late bloomers. They are the athletes who excel later on because they never give up, and have the heart and determination to always improve, and always want more. If you’re a coach you have athletes like this right under your nose, they are the hard workers, the ones who get dirty, the ones who listen, and the ones who are coachable. They are work horses that trust in you to make them better, don’t burn them. All of my articles try to hit on this one very important part, and my father often reminds parents of this as well. You can burn a player. You are responsible for the mental toughness of your players, help them develop by putting them in situations that they can excel in, take chances on them, but always protect them. You see there are players who can be put in these pressure situations too soon, they fail, and then are afraid of these situations later on. They end up resenting you as a coach, and they lose trust and heart for the game. Protect your players and use your best judgement for these situations.
As a coach your job is to make players better, that means every player. If you have players that are not up to par with your top athletes, make that clear. Be straight up with their parents and the player. The best thing you can do for a player who is developing slower than other players is tell them what they need to work on so that they can start. Once you have made these points clear it is up to them and their parents to help them improve in those areas so that they can become a starter in softball.
When making these points, it is also important that you explain that just because they arent starting at 10 years old it doesn’t mean they can’t improve and become on of your best players. Encourage them and their parents so that they continue to improve and don’t quit playing. Give them the link to this article, and the ones listed at the end of this blog so that they can be inspired to keep working.
A few tips for Softball Coaches and Parents:
- If your athlete is struggling at a position, try other positions. Each position requires different skills and talents. At 10 years old they should be learning multiple positions, because you never know how tall they might be, how fast, or powerful they might be as they develop.
- If they want to pitch, work with them! Even if they are your third or fourth best pitcher still encourage and teach them with the other pitchers. You might be missing out on a diamond in the rough.
- If your child is in the middle of growing and lacks coordination, get them involved in CrossFit or some activity that improves coordination and will help with acclimate to their new body.
- Never rely solely on a kid who only has talent and no heart. These are the players who always result in heart ache. If they don’t love softball, and they don’t work hard to improve then they will be hard to coach and hard to improve.
- Always encourage a never settle attitude, because there is always someone better than you, and if you quit working more people will pass you up.
- Hard work and determination is a priceless commodity, teach your players to value these traits and they will be successful.
- If your child or athlete want’s to improve, don’t rely solely on your travel softball coach, get extra help! Find an athlete, or coach near you that offers softball lessons. For softball lessons near the Redding, Ca area contact us we can help! Learn more about our Softball lessons here!
Never give up!
Good Better Best, Never Let It Rest, Until Your Best Is Better, and Your Better is Best!
How Important is Talent in Softball?
Here is another great example from a coach who values hard work and dedication, in this article, ” How Important is Talent in Softball.”
When parents ask me if their daughter has a chance to be successful at pitching, I always tell them it takes about four elements:
1-Desire, dedication, and self-discipline
4-No extreme physical problems that prevent her from doing the motion.
Basically I tell parents that, if their kid is obsessed with pitching, she has a chance if she has the right kind of support around her. My feelings about talent are these. The most talented pitching student I ever had didn’t have the heart, so instead of pushing herself to grow, she tried to rely on talent. She dropped by the wayside. My very favorite pitching students are those who have hit a plateau and people think they have maximized their potential, but the kid refuses to believe it and is hungry to learn and willing to work. Never, ever decide if your kid “has it” when she is under 14. You can’t believe how much can change as she grows and learns. If she reaches 14 and hasn’t found it yet, find another instructor and another till you find one who can help her discover her best. It is usually in there, but nobody has found a way to connect to it. Make sure you are the right influence. And make sure she is having fun. If so, she will love it and want to get better.
Read More from “How Important is Talent in Softball.”
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