My dd plays 12u rec - 3rd season of playing rec.. Not ready to travel yet - most of the girls who play competitive around here have been swinging a bat since t-ball. Nonetheless, she also played for a State Championship team last season for our school. We have begun practicing with the rec team. All of the parents were present during school ball practices last season. Most of the parents are present during the rec league practices. The major difference I have noticed btwn the two is that the girls on the rec team are there to have a "good time". Now, I am not saying that it shouldn't be fun for them because it should. However, they should (at this stage) know that they are there to win and if not win, to at least behave like they WANT to win! We have so many immature girls on our rec team - every single practice they are (believe it or not) playing with the dirt, picking wildflowers in the outfield, chasing butterflies, doing pirouettes, etc.. It is SO frustrating because I've been to practices where that is just not allowed. You don't talk unless it's about a play and you certainly do not pick up dirt and throw it to make a dust bowl! I have caught myself many times during practices yelling at my child (who will fall into the group of "twiddlers") asking if that was proper practice behavior. She will straighten up and the others just keep on diddling. The coach says nothing until it gets on his last nerve (generally the 2nd hour of practice) and then he'll ask "do y'all want to be here or not?" that far into it, IMHO, is not the time to be asking - it should never get that far. It should be understood when they step on the field, it's "game on" and nothing else.
During a pre-season tournament game, one parent looked at one of our coaches and said, "My dd looks so sad on the bench - you need to put her in the game." This child has never played softball, rarely comes to practices and, that game, lost us the game b/c she was in outerspace when a line drive went straight THROUGH her legs and rolled to the fence...winning run barrelled on into home and the game was called. The girl cried and cried - may sound very ugly of me, but I had absolutely no sympathy for her b/c my child is there to play and to win.
Our coach wants to enter us in some weekend tournaments. The way most of these girls act, I'm wanting to leave my child at home! It's one thing to behave like that at practice, but when you have them get on the field and act like they are oblivious to their surrounds, it's a disgrace.
I have also found (comparing rec league to high school ball) that sometimes the coaches need to have some positive motivation - make each child feel like they are truly a part of the team and boost their spirits. After all, they are there to play and learn while they are there. Our coaches are constantly telling the girls at bat to "lift up that elbow" - basically to hold the bat like baseball. My dd gets up there, they say it and she lets it go in one ear and out the other. I have tried to instill in her to listen intently to what her coaches have to say BUT if they are offering up advice that is not what she has been taught by her high school coach or her batting coach, to simply say, "yes, sir" and keep on keeping on.
Even tho our team is an absolute mess, my dd is still very interested in playing. It is hard once you loose the discipline (or respect) of the players to get them back on board and on the right track. All it is going to take is one solid win, IMHO, for your team to get back on track. Winning feels great - even losing is okay when you know you have put 120% into the game!