An Open Letter to My Daughters 10U Coach
Although we have not had the pleasure of meeting yet, I wanted to first thank you for taking the time to volunteer to coach the girls softball team. I know firsthand from coaching my son just how much time and effort and the commitment it takes to do such a thing. I am thankful for your time.
What I want you to know is that my daughter has only played one year of 8U coaches pitch softball before this. And she is how shall I say it…still learning.
I have been working with her out in the yard, and recently hit her in the head with a softball. So now she is terrified of the ball, and pretty much closes her eyes and winces anytime its thrown in her direction. We got her a facemask to help with this, but she is pretty much against any type of pain, and feels like the ball would hurt just as bad if it hit her in the shins, arms, or anywhere else. She tends to use her glove like a tennis racket to swat the ball away from her. It’s terribly frustrating for me, as her parent (especially since I played college softball)- so I can only imagine how it will make you feel. All I ask for is patience.
Please understand that from one day to the next, my daughter fancies herself anything from ballerina, a volleyball player, a famous singer to a doctor. And although part of me wishes she would stick to the one thing I love the most (Softball), I don’t think that will happen with her at the ripe age of 9 years old. I will promise to have her at every practice and every game, and I am hoping that you will find a way to keep the game fun for her so that this time she spends on the field is meaningful.
That you will be able to understand that to her – softball, is still very much a child’s game. This is precisely why she is playing recreation ball and not travel ball like some of her friends are.
As you are probably aware, since you likely have a young daughter of your own – my daughter has a lot of energy to burn. She wiggles and giggles and enjoys being with her friends. One of the reasons that we want her to play sports, is to expend some of this energy and I am hoping that she will leave practices tired. While she is respectful and we expect her to follow directions, we also know that she learns more from doing than from listening at this age. So whatever this ‘doing’ is, we hope you will trust her to do it. She will be happy running, gathering balls, and doing whatever drills that you see fit. In fact, she will be much like a Labrador retriever if you make a game of putting balls in the bucket between infield drills.
I also wanted to mention that she is still working on her self-confidence. (Crazy, right?) Some days she doubts herself. Some days she struggles to find the mental and physical skills necessary to complete certain tasks required by this game. After all, she is just 9. I see this lack of confidence firsthand when she tries to bat. She gets nervous and doubts herself. I have tried yelling at her, threatening her, and even embarrassing or shaming her to get her to hit the proper way and all that has done is make her even more apprehensive. I am hoping that you will show her more patience, and understanding than I do. I am hoping that when your voice is raised, it will be so in praise, lest she shut down on you completely like she does with me.
I will warn you that she might cry a time or too. No matter how hard I have tried to make her mentally tough, she has some days that are better than others. When she isn’t having fun, or if she thinks someone (especially an adult) is mad at her – she tends to get her feelings hurt and cries. Most of the time all she needs is some general encouragement and she can get right back to her smiling and jovial self. I am hoping that she spends more time smiling on the field than she does crying and that you enjoy seeing kids happy when they play ball. I know from my own experience that being happy on the ballfield is what keeps them playing.
For the sake of being 100% honest, I will tell you that the main reason she wanted to play this spring was because 3 of her best friends are playing also. She is a bit of a social butterfly, and likes spending time with her buddies. (She is also super excited about wearing brightly colored socks) I totally expect you will have to find a way to get them to stay on task and I am totally fine with that. But I do hope that you will allow the girls to bond together as a team as well. After all, softball is a team sport.
It would be MY dream if my daughter were to follow in my footsteps and play softball all the way through college. In typing that, I realize what a HUGE amount of pressure that is for me to place that dream upon her when she is only 9.. One of the reasons I have opted not to coach, is so that she can learn the love of the game on her own, without me pushing her. I am hoping that through you, she will experience the joy, and learn lessons about hard work and practice paying off. I am hoping that she will have fun while she is out there, that she will learn a lot (especially how to catch a ball without freaking out) and that you will push her to be a better player and a better person.
But mostly, I am hoping that she will walk away from this being able to say she had fun with the desire to play again next season. Because I know, and I hope YOU know….that this is where IT all begins.