OK, I admit it. I haven’t always been the best Softball Parent. I’m not the worst, that’s for sure. I’ve seen some pretty cruddy stuff from parents over the years and I can say I’ve never gotten to the point some of them have reached. I’m still not perfect, but I strive to be better every tournament that I go to, every game that I watch, and every car ride we have home.
Fastpitch softball should be fun. PERIOD. Without fun, what is the point? Building character? Ok, so softball is good for building character, but is your player having fun while she builds character? If the answer is NO, then you need to find a new way for her to build character. There is a time and a place for softball to be serious, but if there is not a point at which your player is having fun then there is a big issue here.
Maybe you’re the reason she’s not having fun? Maybe you’re the reason she is literally shaking when she gets up to bat? Maybe you’re the reason she overshot the fly ball because she tried so hard that she went a little overboard? I’m so SICK of watching girls get down because of their parents. I do think I can honestly say that I see this every tournament. This is ridiculous and some of you parents are acting like babies. Ok, that was harsh but it’s getting old seeing this behavior.
I am begging you parents to please stop ruining this sport for your kids. Let them have fun. Relax. Enjoy the sport for what it is.
I’m just going to list a few ideas I have that may or may not help you, but I feel that there is this elephant in the room and it needs to be dealt with so here are my suggestions.
-As I’ve said. Have fun and make it fun. Let your player(s) have fun. If you see them continually getting to the point they aren’t having fun then STOP. Figure out what is wrong. This is really important for younger players as they may not quite understand why you’re pushing them so hard on something they may already be doing their best at. Of course they won’t have fun 100% of the time, but any competent parent should be able to tell if there is a disconnect here.
-Do not relive mistakes from the game on the ride home unless the player brings it up. This is not the time nor the place. If you want to discuss their mistakes that is fine, but give them a break on the ride home. Many times they are exhausted and already upset from their mistakes so just leave it alone for a little while. Let them know how much you enjoyed watching them play.
-Not everyone is meant to play softball. Do not push your child into a sport just because YOU want them to play it. If they show no signs of trying to get better then find a sport that does fit them. I see this every season. The one player that should most likely just find another sport. Not because they aren’t good, but because you can tell they have absolutely no interest in softball.
-Stop being a sideline coach! I hate this. Your girls have a coach for a reason. If the coach is not doing a good job then it is your responsibility as a parent to either find a team with a better coach or start your own team. The middle of a game is not the time for you to start trying to correct your players’ issues. That is what practice is for! I see girls get so confused out there on the field because mom is yelling one thing, dad is yelling something and the coach is saying something else. Talk about a good way to put your player on edge. She’s going to make someone mad in this situation regardless, due to the fact everyone is yelling different things and she knows this so it puts her on edge. DO NOT DO THIS!!
-Stop being a helicopter parent. You don’t have to run to the dugout between every inning to talk to your player. She is smart. Let her pay attention to what is going on out in the field as they bat instead of having to listen to you. Like I’ve already said. Relax…Enjoy the game.
-Do not buy her a new ____________ (fill in the blank with bat/glove/cleat etc) expecting better results when the mechanics are the real problem. Your player will improve much more with hard work than she will with a new piece of equipment. Don’t get me wrong, she will need new equipment as she grows, but don’t do it just to expect different results when it’s not the equipment that is the problem. Save that money up that you would have spent on the equipment and get some quality lessons.
-Do not live your life through her. Some parents push their children to fulfill the things they didn’t accomplish. This is not healthy. You’re going to push her so hard that she will eventually tire of the sport. Let her live her own dreams, not yours.
-Act like a mature adult. Don’t act out in front of her, her teammates, or anyone else at the ball field. You are her parents. If you get out there and start cussing and arguing everything then YOU are the problem. She’s going to be embarrassed (understandably so!). If you have a problem with a call then take a breath and remember it is ONLY a game. Stop being so narrowed visioned that you can’t see the bigger picture that this is a time to enjoy. The days of being able to watch your daughter play softball are numbered so make them count.
-Do not bad mouth the coach or other players in front of your player. This will end up giving her a negative view of them regardless of how she felt beforehand. Eventually, she will not have trust from them and that causes rifts in the entire team when they need to be playing together, as a team. If you have problems with the coach, then talk to the coach or find a different team. If you have problems with the players then talk to the coach or the parents and try to keep your daughter out of it.
-Stop drinking. Ok, honestly I really don’t care if you drink. It’s what the result of the drinking is that I have a problem with. You get mouthy. You start yelling stuff at the players and umps you wouldn’t normally say and in the end, you are an embarrassment to the team, the players, and yourself. So just avoid drinking during the games and save it for when you get home.+
So what do you think? Do any of these apply to you? I’ll admit it first and say that being a helicopter parent was an issue for me when my kids were beginning softball. I’d run to the dugout and tell them what to be looking for during the next inning. In my mind, I was only trying to help them improve. Now, I very rarely venture near the dugout as I want my girl to be paying attention to the game.
As parents, we want our girls to succeed. Many times we think we are helping them by doing these things. Telling them what to watch out for or how to fix an issue, but like I’ve already said. They are smart. Let them play ball. You just go and relax and enjoy being able to watch your girl play a sport she loves!