Coaching Girls Softball – Not as Easy as You Might Think
It always starts out the same way. Your daughter starts playing Rec league softball and realizes that she loves the dirt on the diamond more than the sparkle in dance class. Dad (And Moms too) are thrilled. Then, same said daughter starts showing some talent, starts making some friends her age – and mom or dad realize that they have a fairly good core of hardworking girls, who could probably make a pretty good team.
Of course, REC leagues stop offering the right amount of competition, don’t allow you to keep girls together, and there is always some sort of fuss and muss about the coaching, the politics, the parents – or the girl who ‘loves to play,’ but cannot hit water if she fell straight out of a boat floating on the Atlantic Ocean, who always ends up on your team. Blah blah blah.
We call this the birth of a travel/tournament team.
And it’s often also the birth of a regular old parent becoming a softball coach. The truth is coaching girls softball is not as easy as one might think.
Quickly all the hoopla over REC ball turns into snide clichés about ‘daddy ball,’ the coaches daughter getting to pitch every game, the favoritism and of course a sideline of parents sitting in their fold-away chairs eating pistachios, who think they could do it better, who try to coach from the sidelines, and who pretty much suck the fun out of the game faster than a shop vac. Lets get one thing clear. The person/persons coaching your daughters teams does not have it as easy, or carefree, or fun as you might think.
First there are the endless hours spent scheduling fields, tournaments, practices, batting practices, fundraisers, etc. And then scheduling them again. And again, just to suit the needs of ALL the players. This also equates to A LOT of time sending out texts to parents who may or may not answer, and who don’t realize that their participation and communication involves an entire team, which can often undermine the many hours spent trying to communicate with parents.
You try getting 12 different people to respond to a text, or commit to something. Eventually you get tired of texting the same person 50 million times, or asking the same question just so YOU can make a decision that involves everyone. BUT – if you resolve to just doing things your way, the other parents who have to do little more than show up, will accuse you of being egotistical or not caring about their kid. Blah blah blah!
Essentially, its a no win situation. But because this coach is probably doing this coaching gig because they want to make sure their daughter, who loves the game, gets to play – they DO IT. And they lose sleep over it. Of course, there are always the people who back out of a tourney at the last minute (LIKE THE NIGHT BEFORE). The kids who lose their uniform, don’t have socks – can’t make practice. The parents that you never know whether their kid will show up or not, who you then feel responsible for giving a ride to, and providing drinks and snacks to all dang day long. There is also a dugout full of hormonal girls, who have listened to their parents bitch and whine so much, that they too become frustrated and bitchy and whiny. “Can I pitch?” “Can I be a runner?” “Can I sit out this game (but don’t tell my mom I asked)?” “Can I have a drink?” “My daddy says you are messing up my hitting?” Blah Blah Blah some more.
These same girls have to be constantly reminded to trust their coach – even though mom and dad are on the sidelines telling the poor girl to do the exact opposite of what her coach tells her to. And if you are the coach of a fast-pitch softball team, you have suddenly taken on the responsibility of making sure every single girl on your team gets enough practice and instruction in. If a girl strikes out, it is miraculously YOUR fault. If a girl boots three balls. Your fault. If a pitcher cannot throw a strike, you guessed it….YOUR FAULT!
Word to the wise here – if your daughter plays travel, then you SHE NEEDS TO BE PRACTICING AT HOME, and if she is really serious about hitting, pitching, fielding – you need to invest in some lessons. A coach cannot utilize an entire practice teaching one girl how to pitch. Take your daughter to the cages. Find some pitching instruction. Team practices are for the TEAM to practice and work on fundamentals. If you aren’t willing to go the extra mile, then travel/tourney ball is the wrong place for you.
There are also a bunch of parents on the sidelines who are happy when the team is winning – but who play a pretty good game of armchair quarterback once the team loses. Heck, who hasn’t seen a band of yakking parents beat up a group of girls during a game with their negative verbiage behind the fence, to the point that no coach (or counselor) on the face of the Earth could bring them back from the slump?
Lets also talk money. If you decided to volunteer your time to be a fast pitch softball coach, you have also volunteered (probably unknowingly) your money. You get stuck buying the equipment – the balls, the books, the line-up cars, the extra uniforms, and there is always at least one or two parents who never – NEVER pay their fair share. I think fast pitch coaches probably get stiffed more than waitresses at Waffle House do. This doesn’t mention the fact that since you also act as part-time chauffeur getting girls from point A to point B – so the team can actually play together AS A WHOLE, you are burning miles (and gas) like crazy. Yes, the parents work – but so do you, right?
The reality is that coaching a travel team doesn’t have as many perks for the coach (or the coaches children) as one might perceive. It takes an abundant amount of time. A tremendous amount of energy. And exuberant amount of patience. And it causes an immense amount of frustration. Yes, it is worth it. But before you go thinking that the coach, or the coaches kids have it made – sit back and think a minute about how much time and effort and money and thought and TIME they are putting into your child. And they aren’t getting paid a thing. Maybe before you complain about your fast-pitch coach, you spend a week in their shoes – and then most likely, some of their actions and decisions will make more sense.
And for the record ——- PLEASE ANSWER TEXTS IN A TIMELY MANNER!
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[…] not as easy as you might think to coach your own daughters! At the end of the day, if it weren’t for all the daddy ball and mommy ball coaches today […]
Great responses to this scenirao!I would ask What are the ground rules? If no one could answer, I would reiterate the ground rules. Depending on the complete context of the situation I might follow with -1) What is the impact on the team when additional questions are asked before the ones on the table can be answered?or2) What is the impact on the team when we create rules for the team that have not been agreed to?or3) What is the impact on the team when someone avoids responding to a question?Followed by How do we want to handle it from now on?Happy CoachingBea