It’s time for travel softball, those 8 or so (depending on where you live) sunny (you hope) weeks of rushed meals (and few to no sit-down family dinners) before you and your darling daughter (DD) head out for the softball fields near and far so she can play the game she loves. My daughter Tory started to play rec softball when she was 6 years old. And she didn’t stop playing until she graduated high school at age 18. She played summer ball, fall ball, took pitching, batting and fielding lessons 11 months of the year. And when she got old enough, she played for her high school team too. I was surprised at her level of commitment to the game. Neither her Dad nor I asked Tory to play, pushed her to play or insisted that she play. And, I think, that’s the key to a great softball player … she’s self motivated, and has 100% support from her parents.
Your DD should want to play softball. Her love of the game is what should motivate and drive her, not Mom or Dad wanting her to play for their own personal reasons. If your DD doesn’t have a love of the game then she needs to find a sport or activity that she can love. It’s that simple.
Looking back, I think it would have been better had I taken Tory’s love of softball seriously from the very, very beginning. If you, like me, think that softball might be a passing fancy with your DD, don’t bet on it. I suggest you go on line and read the rules of the game. Did you know that they change based on the age of your DD and the kind of league she plays in? For example, she could play in her town league, PONY, ASA or another league that’s popular where you live; each one of the organizations could have different rules regarding player eligibility, equipment, safety gear required, and more. And those rules can be different from the ones for her middle school and/or high school district’s! And they can even differ from tournament rules. So you need to know the rules!
Once your DD is signed up to play on a softball team,
1. ask the coach where you can find the rules that apply to her league. Then
2. look them up on line (Google, along with me, will be your friend from here on out!), print them out (or bookmark them on your smart phone), take them with you to her games (just know that sometimes cell service can be spotty, depending on where the fields are located!).
While your DD is warming up with her team, you can
1. read up on the rules that apply to her and her team.
2. follow the game more easily and will know what’s happening on the field as it happens.
3. ask intelligent questions of the coach and staff after the game.
Just think, you could be that informed parent who can explain to other, not-so-well-informed parents in the bleachers why a play was called by the officials the way it was. Your DD will thank you for caring enough to learn the rules, being able to discuss the rules with her and talking through those tough calls that may not go her way. Your DD’s coach and staff will thank you.
When she made her first travel softball team at 10U Tory played softball May-November, then as she got older and her commitment became even more serious, she began winter workouts that took her until early spring workouts with her high school, travel or club teams. At one point my DD was playing in two different leagues on three separate teams! And she either played or trained for softball 50 out of 52 weeks every year.
If you asked my DD, she’d be the first to tell you that she wasn’t a “natural” softball player (whatever the heck that is). She worked hard and practiced often to develop her skills and the mental toughness that made her a successful softball player, whether she was pitching in blistering 105 degree heat at Disney or well below freezing in the rain at a local tournament.
How about you? What age is your softball loving DD? Does she bounce out of the house and into the car with her glove already on her hand? Are you concerned about her health and well being on the field?