Perks to Being a Pick Up Player

Each year, as softball seasons winds down and back up again, girls and parents are scrambling and hunting for the perfect team to call their own, or settling back into comfortable routines with the team they have been playing on for years now.

As your daughter gets older, one thing that you may want to consider is a season of NOT committing to a particular team. (YES you heard that right!)

Not only does this open up tons of time for taking those much-needed vacations, and perhaps having a Saturday where you can sleep in or mow grass, but also opens up the world of pick-up play for your daughter, which is an excellent way to round out her abilities and make her more versatile.

Most of the time, on any given weekday – there are forums for coaches that are looking to pick up some talent for the upcoming weekend. They might be in need of a strong bat, a utility player, a pitcher or catcher – or a warm body that ensures they have enough players to fill up the roster.

Love ’em or hate ’em,,  often times it is these pick up players that enable teams to play when rosters get low on folks, or when a team is in need of better pitching in order to face better competition. And the experience is one that will truly benefit your player as well.

For young girls excelling in this sport, it is easy to get comfortable with the coaching. If your daughter is on a team where she is one of the best players, chances are she is challenging others – but is not being challenged herself. Picking up with higher level teams can help make HER a better player. Additionally, as a pick up player, she gets the opportunity to be coached by new and different people, and experiences a broader team atmosphere that requires her to adapt and be versatile.

If you are hunting the collegiate experience, one thing is for sure. Your daughter MUST BE VERSATILE! While she may be the best pitcher or 1st baseman in your area RIGHT NOW, she might find herself playing centerfield in high school and college level play. By being a pick up player, she gets out of being pigeon-holed for a weekend. And, the stress and discomfort of being with a whole group of new people, that she may not know very well provides her with a challenging atmosphere to play ball in. This helps her grow as a person, teaches her to adapt, and forces her to use a whole new set of social skills that will be beneficial to her in life.

Another benefit to being a pick up player for a season, is that she will get to perform under pressure. These coaches and players don’t ‘know’ her as well as her own coaches do. This in and of itself, adds pressure to her game and will likely push her to be an even stronger athlete. After all, if you walk on a team as a pick up, folks are expecting something good from you, right? You can’t just show up and strike out, or bobble balls, or walk batter after batter, right? So the player performs to expectations and likely exceeds them.

Pick up play can also open doors for your player. She will be seen at tourneys that she might not normally play in. As she picks up with teams, she will start getting a reputation as a girl who other teams WANT to play with them. People will toss her name around, her visibility increased, and in the large but oh so small fastpitch community, she will gain some credit whose talent will be coveted.

Playing pick up for a while is also a great way to truly feel a team out from the inside before making any sort of commitment. If she’s a good player, with a great attitude – teams will WANT HER, and will try to recruit her. And she and her parents get a bird’s eye view of team dynamics and coaching and what kind of kids are on the team that helps them make an informed decision BEFORE signing on the dotted line so to speak.

Last, but certainly not least – when you pick up with other teams – and see the different dynamics, coaching styles and personalities that are out there, you get a better sense of what you really want AND NEED when it comes to softball. It may renew appreciation for the regular team, enhance gratitude towards coaches, and offer some clarity about goals, achievements and aspirations. And, pick up playing can be a lot of fun as you get to meet all sorts of people along the way that you might have never met before.

And like we said earlier, you might even get to decide to take off a Saturday to go fishing – or sleep till noon every once in a while.

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