For many people across the country, school ball is in full swing. The vast majority of high schools and middle schools with softball teams play ‘school ball’ during the spring. And now the SIFG ‘Ask the Coach” and Facebook questions tend to be from parents concerned about everything from the school ball coaches to whether playing school ball is really worth it.
One of the MOST popular questions seems to be centered around concerns or worries that the school ball coaches will somehow damage players – especially when they give conflicting advice to players who spend most of their time on travel or select teams.
This week we received this specific question from a fan.
“My daughter is trying out for JV at her school. She is on an “A” travel team and has a big bat. The JV coach at try-outs was changing her stance. Is it me, or is this just wrong? Arent they supposed to observe? I pay a lot of money on hitting lessons which have paid off. So, how do I handle this?”
In the past 2-3 weeks, we have received nearly 3 dozen variations to this same question. And we get it. You pay a lot of money for your daughter to get training. You think she is already a stellar athlete, who has worked hard to get where she is. Why pray tell would someone, especially a school ball coach, jeopardize this? You cringe at the sheer thought of someone
Truth is WE personally didn’t have the answer. We tend to think that girls need to remain coachable, but that doesn’t solve this particular problem.
So in order to get the BEST answer for you, we got in touch with an experienced, seasoned, respected high school softball coach in our area and asked for HER input on this. Certainly, she has heard this before, or had parents on the stands question what she is doing and why. Even better, is she has a softball playing daughter of her own, so she can approach this from the angle of a high school coach AND a parent.
We forwarded her the exact question and here is her response:
I’m surprised that they are trying to change her if she’s a good hitter. And, it’s a JV program. How qualified is the coach? Did they play in college? How successful has the JV and high school program been? If they have a good reputation and a good history of producing great hitters, listen to them. From a coaches point of view, there are poor hitting coaches and “A” teams that aren’t that great. So as normal, there is another side of the coin to consider.
When a kid comes to me who can hit, I tend to leave their swing alone, UNLESS I see room for a tweak that can help. I mainly teach them approach, and strategy at that point. Location, timing the pitch, situational tips. On top of all of that, every kid is different. They all generate power differently due to their physical make-up. None of them are as good as they’re gonna get. And if they are having success why would you want to completely change that? Some coaches are stubborn and want ‘cookie cutter’ hitters. They all want kids to hit the same, use the same bat, finish the same. I personally thing that’s a load of bull. I will also say that colleges change A LOT of hitting styles, but at that point you DO WHAT THEY TELL YOU. Parents should check the coaches credentials, and records of success and go from there. I would think a coach who wants to win will do very little to a kid having success. In other words, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
One of her most important points is NONE OF THEM ARE AS GOOD AS THEY’RE GONNA GET.
A BIG ‘Parent-coaching’ mistake is assuming that your child is as good as she is going to get. She can always get better. And remaining open to other people’s ideas, and methods, and coaching styles and hints and tips, can help make her a better athlete. The last thing you want your daughter to do is plateau, even if she has a big bat. Remember, her bat can get even bigger if she keeps working hard.
The school ball season is short. And while many in the softball community tend to put the experience down, or liken school ball to Rec ball, the reality is that having the change to participate on a school team can be a big part of their middle or high school experience. It also looks good on a college resume. And, adjusting, being flexible and remaining open to new coaching methods and styles will definitely be a BONUS when she makes her way onto a college field when mama and daddy won’t be there to (or welcome to) bicker with the coaches.