Softball players. They fall under the classification of athletes. That being said, with so many more girls signing up to take on the diamond each and every year, with big dreams and goals – they and WE as parents are missing the mark on one very important aspect. Athleticism.
So she can hit a ball over the fence. So she can throw a 54 mph fastball at 10 years old. So she is 16 and being scouted by a D1 program. So she plays tournament ball on the weekend, often cramming in 5 or more games into two days.
But can she run?
Can she run a mile without being winded? Can she pitch several games in the heat and the cold without becoming tired or injured or losing effectiveness? Does she have endurance? Is she using quick pick me ups like monsters and sodas and candy bars to get just enough energy to get her through the game?
Essentially our youth are extremely sedentary.
Phone and computer gadgets and their entire culture is one that doesn’t move very much. This is one of the MANY reasons so many parents try to incorporate sports into a kids routine. To get them out, and outside, an playing an doing something.
The thing is that batting practice, shagging balls, and an hour and a half of practice and even pitching or hitting lessons doesn’t make them an athlete.
What we see FAR to much off, is kids that are out of shape.
(NO, WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT WEIGHT HERE SO DON’T EVEN JUMP ON US WITHOUT THAT LINE).
We are talking about physcial fitness. Physical fitness knows no size.
We have witnessed far too many practices where more than half the kids can barely run the field without having to walk, or being winded. Some even crying.
Our children are largely out of shape. They have poor cardiac health. They eat garbage during athletic events. And outside of practice we are stuffing them full of fast and crappy foods that offer very little nutritional value.
Far too many kids play ONE game an are tired! Travel ball games are short and swift, often dicated by a 65-75 minute clock. And truth be told, there is not often a lot of physical activity going on during those games. Sure they run to catch a ball, they pitch, they catch, they run the bases. But how many kids do you see who run out a double and the first thing they do is bend over to catch their breath. How often do you see a pitcher who grows tired after 3-4 innings an has nowhere to dig deep from, because the bottom line is that while they are in pitching form, they aren’t in SHAPE!
We expect our athletes to train and take lessons and to hone their skills at their positions, but is that really enough? We feel that as parents that going to practice several times per week means they are athletes. But, seriously is that really making them ‘athletic?”
When you are forced to play a 7 inning game headed into extra innings, with everything on the line and no clock to save you….which kids will have a well of power and strength big deep enough to draw from?
Do they stretch and do yoga classes because they care and want their bodies to be at their best? Do they get outside and walk or run, or jump on a treadmill or exercise bike because they want to be in good cardiac shape? Or do they just busy themselves with going to practice and lessons and then hope – that it is enough? Because they are already tired. They are already busy.
When given free time, do they tune into Net Flix, or do they find a fitness app where they can work on their core strength, or push their bodies to become fit? When given a choice between an apple and a bag of chips, which do they choose?
Are your kids often sore and tired? Are they getting enough sleep? Do they eat well? Or do they use ‘being busy’ as an excuse to ignore these aspects.
Part of being an athlete in any sport, is training the body to be a warrior, and this is not done ONLY during practices or lessons but every day. Being an athlete is a STATE OF MIND, and it starts and ends with respecting their BODIES.
No matter what their body shape, what they weigh, what their strengths or weaknesses are – there is always room for them to improve their health, which will in turn improve their performance on the field.
A college coach recently told us that she is more interested in recruiting athletes than she is recruiting the kid with the best batting average on the team. Because the ATHLETE will be able to sneak out a double, where the hitter is lucky and happy to make it to first and snag a runner to do the rest for them.
This is not meant to sound mean. This is just meant to inspire YOU and your athlete to take as seriously the state of your child’s health as you do your playing time. Long after this game ends, her health and well being and athleticism will serve her well.
And the bottom line, no matter what sport you play. Cheer, volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, track, cross country – athleticism will WIN out.
If your kid has real dreams and potential to play after graduation, and beyond travel ball then it is her all-around athleticism and drive to LIVE LIKE AN A TRUE ATHLETE that will get her there. The 1%ers, the best in their sports…they know this. And they know that a monster and a snickers bar are only a quick fix whereas dedication to being physically fit and athletic is what will truly make their dreams come true.