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Parents Corner

Player Development:

Parents can play a critical role in the development of a young softball player. Skills will progress as a player receives instruction and experience at practices and games. However, reinforcing the skills at home can be both a fun and rewarding experience for both the parents and players. Playing catch, fielding ground balls, fielding fly balls, and visits to the batting cage are all excellent ways to expedite player development. See the "Coaches' Corner" section of this web site to access fundamentals and drills.

Professional instruction is also an excellent way to supplement what the players are learning at practice. Professional instruction is particularly important to develop young windmill pitchers. Windmill pitchers require proper instruction and a considerable amount of practice to become proficient. It is not too young to begin instruction in the first or second grade.

Don't let "Softball Status" or "I am on the "B" Team, now what?" Slow Progress

by Sean Hall - Forest Lake Varsity Softball Coach and Midwest Speed Director

This time of year many communities and high schools are finishing up with tryouts. Every year there are many players that are ecstatic that they made the Varsity or the "A" Team. Very rarely do people get excited about being on the JV, 9th Grade or the "B" Team. That being said, if your daughter is a "BUBBLE" player, playing on that 2nd Tier Team could just save her career ESPECIALLY with a positive attitude from herself, her coaches, and most importantly her parents. Most parents will be tempted to go down the road of consoling their daughter and giving her excuses like "it's all politics" or the tryout wasn't fair. Yes, sometimes these things are true but this doesn't help your daughter. Try to get your daughter to look in the mirror to find out what she really needs to improve on to take that next step as a player. Let her know you will be right there with her. If you can turn the frustration of not making the team into fuel to "show them", you are now on your way to making it a great year. There will be many players that make the desired team that will rest on their laurels. Now is the time to start working to pass those players up.

My favorite example out of hundreds of players was Chrissy Sward. Chrissy was on the North St. Paul "C" Team at 14U. Chrissy wasn't the most coordinated player but had all sorts of athletic ability and speed. She worked extremely hard with her father Bill to get better. Eventually Chrissy grew into her body she became very coordinated. Fast forward 4 years later and Chrissy was the Metro Player of the Year and had a scholarship to play softball at the University of Minnesota. I was lucky enough to Coach Chrissy for two years at North St. Paul.

Here are benefits of a bubble player playing on the JV, B-Squad or Traveling “B” or “C” Team.
1. More playing time at prime positions.

2. More at bats and being near the top of the order.

3. More innings for pitchers and catchers.

4. Great opportunity for working on leadership opportunities.

5. Less stressful situations. Making it easier to go out and have fun playing. This makes it easier to perform.

6. The higher the level the more teams are focused on "winning". This isn't necessarily good for skill development.

The only downside I see is that you might not be playing against the same competition as the “A” Team. This is why I love it when I see teams challenge themselves and play against the best competition. I have a lot more respect for a traveling coach that goes 6-12 in the “A” League than a Coach that goes 17-1 in the “B” League.

My daughter Chelsea is starting 8U for White Bear. I am not sure how they divide the teams but I was happy to learn that most of the girls are beginners along with Chelsea. I understand many communities divide kids up evenly at 8U and 10U. I am NOT in favor of this unless the kids have similar talent. There are some strong 8U players that have throwing and catching mastered. Putting them with kids that can’t catch doesn’t help anyone. Let them develop with players that have similar ability.

If your one of those players/parents that didn’t make the team that you wanted take the High Road. “Look in the Mirror” and get to work. It may be the best thing that ever happened to your daughter. Good Luck!

10 Tips for Being a Great Softball Parent

By Stacie Mahoe

As a softball parent, you only want the best for your daughter.  So what can you do to help your daughter become the best she can be on the field? Here are 10 Tips to Help You Be a Great Softball Parent!

  1. Focus on reinforcing your daughter’s correct technique, mechanics, and good performance.
  2. Don’t dwell on your daughter’s mistakes.
  3. Value your daughter’s “intangible strengths” – determination, mental toughness, positive attitude, confidence, commitment, etc.
  4. Be a good example.  Your children learn from you.  Model the behavior and attitude you want your children to develop.
  5. Show your daughter you see her progress and are proud of her for the effort and improvement she is making.
  6. Allow and provide for taking a break – no school, no sports, just time to relax and enjoy family and friends.
  7. Don’t specialize too early in sport or in position.
  8. Encourage the same commitment and passion toward school as you do toward softball.
  9. Remember that there is no short cut to success.  Expensive equipment it and of itself won’t solve all problems, it still requires dedication, skill, and technique for maximum success.
  10. Provide your daughter with the ultimate reward: your time, your attention, your approval, and the chance to hang out with you doing and sharing something she loves.