My Softball Player is BETTER than YOURS is!
“I’ll be honest. My softball playing beast of daughter is BETTER than yours is. She hits better, fields better, runs better, works harder, makes fewer errors and even has a better attitude than your daughter does. She is better.”
How would you feel if a parent (or coach) just outright said that to you?
Chances are you would be pretty peeved, and wouldn’t think very much of the person who spewed the better speech. And even if it was all true, that the kid in question was better, the most natural human reaction would be to somehow feel angry, slighted and spiteful and you would remember exactly how many times the ‘better’ girl struck out, or made an error, or didn’t do whatever it is that would make her perfect.
Obviously, no one with a social clue would every come out and say this to someone else. Even if it is true, or obvious. When it comes to youth sports (and youth in general) we have become so obsessed with preserving self-esteem and being politically correct, that we don’t acknowledge anything better than our own kids. Last thing we want is for our little Lucy to know that Suzy is a better ball player than her, right?
Unfortunately, what we hear a lot is kids, coaches, parents, and fans somehow minimizing the success of those that are better. (haters gonna hate)
Not sure why we as humans do this, but we do. We see a better pitcher, and we start thinking she is an “A” ball player that just picked up. We play a team that slaughters us and we start thinking they cheated or swing loaded bats. We have a player on our team that is better and maybe gets more playing time, or more attention from the coaches, and we insist on remembering her errors, or bringing up the areas where she needs improvement, or otherwise finding an excuse for why we perceive she is better.
Why can we not just admit it. Why can’t we say:
“Hey Lucy, Suzy is a better short stop than you are right now but if you work hard you can get better than she is. Watch her and learn from her.”
“”You know what, that team that just run ruled us, was simply better than us, but if we work hard and continue working, we too – can be better.”
The problem is that better is not necessarily (or ever) a bad thing. And, when real life comes crashing in and kids are forced to try out for positions or travel teams or school teams, or vie for playing time – kids will realize that even if we don’t call another kid ‘better’ the kids who play better get more of the playing time. And you know what else? Your kid already KNOW when someone else is better than they are.
You see, making excuses for the whatever, or diminishing the talent of another team or player, doesn’t help your kid or team in any singular way. In fact it hinders progress.
The reality is that if you have a child or player that is motivated and looking to really take this gig we call softball far in life, not only will they NOT be intimidated by the kids who are better than they are, but they will have the desire to PLAY WITH THEM! The more they practice with better players, the more your team plays better teams – the better your player and your team will get.
When you become the best player on the field, or the best team in the bracket weekend after weekend, its time to make a change. You WANT to play with teams and teammates that are better than you are! That’s how you learn. Think of it as a mentorship. If you are learning a new job skill as an adult, don’t you want to learn from someone who is the best, or who is at least better than you are? Why should it be different with our children?
Better teams have habits that are worth watching for. Hundreds of times over, we have seen the better teams with a very well designed and organized pre-game warm up working out 30 minutes before the other teams, whose kids are still lying around under tents sucking on smoothies. The better kids strike out and head to the batting cages during game breaks. Better players, work hard not just at practice, but on their own as well.
And more importantly, better players and teams have the EXPECTATION THAT THEY WILL BE BETTER!
Unfortunately, we are still not comfortable with the language of just saying “Hey that girl is better at the plate than you are, that is why she is batting in the 4 hole and you are 8th.” “Or, that team is better than us!” But in softball as in life, it is important for us to seek out those that are better than us, to recognize it so that we can have the opportunity to learn from it, and to align ourselves with those that are ‘better’ so we can better ourselves.
When done right, complimenting someone else, does not take away from our own kids.
What does take away from our kids (who already know the truth) is to watch adults or coaches bad mouth, or accuse, or in general feel intimidated or jealous of another kid or team because they are simply better than our kid or player is….
After all, becoming better – isn’t that what we all are striving for?
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