10 Questions to Ask Your Softball Players
Softball is the perfect balance of an individual and team sport. No one person can be successful alone, and every individual has a job to do to make it work.
Largely, when it comes to team dynamics and culture – it is the adults (parents and coaches) who have the most input. They are the ones who have the complaints (often passing them onto their children), who air their grievances, and who are spring-loaded to shout “FOUL” if they feel their daughter has been slighted in any way. The coaches are the ones empowered with the final decision-making.
Interestingly, the kiddos – the ones out there playing and working, don’t always share their parents or coaches feelings. The kids sort of ‘get it,’ and are simply stuck between their parents and coaches – hoping that both sides can be happy so they can just continue doing what they love.
What we have learned, is that it is a big mistake to undermine, or devalue the opinions of the players.
We also believe that while kids should remain coach-able, and open to their coaches advice and opinions and respectful – the kids should also be included in the TEAM PLAN. And just as players and parents grow – coaches can grow too by offering their players an opportunity to so to speak review their performance as coaches, and give their input into what can help solidify and improve the team.
News flash. When you have a bunch of girls and parents trying to come together, there are often a lot of things going on underneath the surface that coaches and team admins don’t know about.
Today, we challenge all the coaches out there to pint out these questions and hand them to their players at the next practice. Start the practice with a dialogue that you value the players input, and want them to be 100% honest. Allow anonymity so the girls feel safe explaining that ONLY coaches will see the answers, bring pens for the players to do it right them, and DO NOT INVOLVE the parents.
In fact, the best way to get the truth is to allow the girls to scatter across the field and answer the questions on their own, rather than sending it home for homework. This way you can be sure you are getting the PLAYERS replies, rather than replies that may be influenced by the adults in their life.
This exercise is one in allowing the players to take ownership of THEIR TEAM! WHICH IS HUGE!
It also helps them to invest emotionally, shows them that their opinions and feelings matter, AND enables the girls to ‘think like a coach’ which can often help them in understanding why things are the way they are.
Likewise, it can also help coaches gain some insight into how their players feel, and give useful ideas to ensure the team doesn’t get stuck in a rut.
So here we go!
- If you had to make a line-up – both batting order and field positions – for a game that our team MUST WIN, what would it look like? (Things to think about. Would you bat everyone? Which players play the best in which positions? Would you use base runners?)
- Do you feel that ALL the players on our team are treated fairly and held to the same expectations? Do you think there is any favoritism?
- In your opinion, do all of our players have the same opportunity on our team for playing time?
- What are some things that you think the coaches could do differently to make our team even more successful?
- What are some of the top things you think our team needs to work on in practice?
- Does team drama within the team (with the girls or parents or coaches) affect how you feel about our team? (You can be specific as you want, or answer with a simple yes or no)
- Do you feel that you are learning what you need to be the best player you can be on the field?
- What do you think YOU could do better to help out our team?
- Are YOU happy and having FUN?
- Do you feel valued as a player on our team?