Is your athlete truly passionate about the sport of softball? Do they LOVE jumping in the car to head to practice? Do they smile, laugh and enjoy the time with their teammates? Do they live for the next at-bat, or is the pressure we put on them stripping the fun out of the game for them?
I can relate. I have had times in my life where all I wanted was my next at bat, and for the next game to finally be 'today'. If I wasn't at practice or games, I was playing pick up whiffle ball in the neighborhood where wins and loses meant JUST as much as any league game. I also very clearly remember days where I absolutely dreaded getting dropped off for practice because I was too afraid to make a mistake, or felt like I wasn't as good as the others. I dreaded the embarrassment of not knowing how to do something, or seeing my name as a back up....again.
Thankfully, I didn't totally resent the sport by the time I was 13 so I decided to try out for the high school softball team (with some encouragement from my family). Turns out, I wasn't as bad as everyone always told me I was and I ended up starting on Varsity for 4 years, and continuing my career at Wisconsin for another 4 years. I am SO grateful my parents knew how to cultivate a passion for competing and playing the sport I loved so much, enough to help me withstand the difficult times. Without them, there was no chance I would have given the sport another chance.
You can't teach passion, but you can take it away. Don't tell them their batting average, they don't care unless you do. Don't analyze every pitch after games with them on the car ride home. DO buy them ice cream after loses. DO celebrate their failures. And DO continue to say what they need to hear after games, you can never go wrong with positivity. After all, it's still a game and if we can keep it that way these girls will continue to play the game with passion the way it's meant to be played.
Maria Van Abel & Laura Beyer
When we started 360U Softball in 2016, our goal was to help softball players get better. We found a lot of athletes needing instruction, and wanted to help them bridge the gap between where they were, and where they wanted to be as softball players. VERY quickly, we found that the grand opportunity in front of us was not just to teach mechanics to these young women, but FAR more importantly, to help them understand how truly amazing each and every one of them are and to find their best self.