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Thread: How do you raise a truly elite athlete?

  1. #11
    Certified softball maniac Sparky Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sluggers View Post
    I had 2 DDs play sports in college...
    I only had one DD play college softball. The things Sluggers described are almost EXACTLY what I did with my DD. I stopped coaching her when I realized just how much I didn't know about the game and got her to people who knew the game.

    There is no ONE formula that works for every player. The general outline that Sluggers offers is a great place to start. Modify it to your DD's needs and personality. The one constant that MUST be there is the internal desire of the athlete. It sounds like the OP's DD has it. Now it's time to point that desire in the right direction.

  2. #12
    Certified softball maniac BobInMadison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannonball View Post
    First, I wouldn't exaggerate and say that mine is elite. However, she has had a nice career. Yesterday, she was working with her 10U team and I was telling the story about how when she was 12, she was asked to play 14U. BB started laughing because the guy that asked her to do that had her playing 16 & 18U when she was 14. It was scary as parents to let her play up but we trusted this coach. We also trusted her and her work ethic. I have yet to ask her to practice. I liked what Sluggers said about writing goals. BB wrote her goals down as well as picked 5 quotes to live her life by. If you go into her college apartment, you will see those very same quotes on her wall. Her goals have changes as she has progressed but you will find her goals also written down.

    Once you know that you have a special player, you have to also know that the potential for a big head comes with that. We made rules for BB. She was not allowed to talk about another player or coach in any negative way. Excuses are for losers so we made her accept her short comings in order for her to make herself better. We also told her that we would never care if she stopped player. She was to play for the love of the game and not her parent's egos. She knows right now, she can walk away and we will support her. As a coach, I saw so many superstar kids get destroyed by their parents that I knew to check myself early and often. We did make her certain promises as well. We would give her the best equipment available. As she got older, if she practiced every day as she said she waned to do wanted to do, she did not have to get a job.

    In the end, keep in mind that that kid that is better than your kid is out there. Your child will run into that child. When that happens, be supportive and assure your child that she should never get her identity from a sport. Softball is what she does and not who she is.
    There has to be a limit to not being allowed to talk about a coach or another player in a negative way. Sometimes a coach, a player, or a program, can be quite toxic.

    A cousin of mine really wanted to play football for the college his father played for. My cousin was offered a scholarship at Colorado, but turned it down to be a red-shirt walk-on at the local university, which was a much more famous program. I won't name the university or the coach, except that the coach's initials were BS, and that this coach soon afterwards left the college program to coach an NFL team somewhere in Texas. Won a super bowl, too.

    Anyway, I NEVER heard my cousin say one bad word about the coach or the program or the other players. However, he said some things to his mother, who said some things to her sister, who was my mother, so I head a lot of the stories indirectly.

    I gather coach BS was a real piece of work. He would never talk to any of his players, just watch the assistant coaches, and then leave with some co-ed groupies at the end of practice. BS was a married man, and these girls were young enough to be his daughters. In fact, BS's son was a college student at the time, at another college, and my mother was one of his instructors.

    That college had a rivalry going on with Miami, which had a coach who had been a college teammate of BS. For some reason, it was fashionable for the players to buy guns in Miami. Not sure why, since their college was in a very gun-friendly state.

    At one point my cousin invited some of his teammates over for to show them how to safely operate firearms. My cousin was a life-long hunter, and a firm believer in gun safety. So, he taught the teammates how to use a gun, gun safety, and took they for some target practice out back of the house in the country.

    Later, one of those teammates shot (not fatally) another teammate, using a gun my Cousin had taught the guy how to use.

    After that season, my cousin transferred to a JuCo. He had had enough of the Big Name Football Program, the coaches, and the teammates.

    So, no negativity is often a good rule, but there are exceptions. Sometimes the situation can be quite dangerous.

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  4. #13
    I eat, sleep and breathe softball Doug Romrell's Avatar
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    Want a truly "elite" athlete DD? Pray prior to conception that your DD is borne with it--the drive to be elite. Sadly, my two daughters were not, and it was likely due to the fact that I didn't pray for it.

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    Certified softball maniac BobInMadison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannonball View Post
    Bob, that was a nice post. I don't know the age of your dd but I hope that all goes well with her. I and my wife are a little bit different. Without going to extreme examples, that is how we raised our daughter. Perhaps it isn't right for everyone. It was/is right for us.
    Good for you and your family!

    Every kid is different, so if you did what works for your daughter, you are to be commended. I am sure she appreciates it, MOST of the time at least.

    Actually, I have 4 kids. The oldest, my only son, will be rowing at college in the fall. I looked up where Troy, IL, is, and it is very close to St. Louis. Some of my son's best lessons in sportsmanship have been learned in races in the St. Louis area, dealing with hurt feelings, etc. In any case, the St. Louis Rowing Club families are the most gracious hosts imaginable, and some of their rowers are the top recruits in the country. So, it's not just the softball kids who thrive around there. :-)

    My oldest and youngest daughter have both played softball. I think with my oldest, maybe I tried too hard to keep her from expressing negative thoughts about coaches and teammates, and missed the signs that led her to quitting the sport. But, who knows?, she is threatening to take it up again, at a less competitive level. Some have suggested she try to walk on as a pinch runner at Wisconsin, but she has no desire to play D1 softball. (Wisconsin has a large team, 24 ladies, and will sometimes take a fast runner with some hitting and fielding talent, and work with them. Not what she wants out of life, at least at this point.)

    For DD #3, I let her rant and rave in the car on the way home, because I know at some point she will calm down and look at things in a realistic way. I think both DD #1 and DD #3 were/ are quite realistic about their level of talent, but sometimes DD #3 has to blow off steam. Better on the ride home than in front of her coaches and teammates. DD #3 has the potential to play college ball, but as a 12u player, it is still too early to know for sure.

    DD #2 is a wonderful kid, about to start HS, who hasn't got much talent in softball, although she most certainly has other talents. She won't even consider rec play, since she has NO desire to be compared to her talented sisters.

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    Out on good behavior redhotcoach's Avatar
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    Just got to say this fueled a great discussion at my house last night. Dd is going to write down her goals and plan today. I have agreed to be open minded to at least talk to some clubs out of area, and .....well..... Ugh....potentially loosen the budget up. Dd mentioned a few times that dd#2 soccer is a several times more expensive venture then dd#1 softball. I pointed out that her soccer coaches are professionals from Europe and that is all they do. Even the bigger travel softball clubs in the area here, that claim elite status, are daddy run. Might as well play with your own daddy for now. To which DW said "what about out of state teams"? UGH! At least if I am not coaching, I will have more time to get a 2nd and 3rd job.
    Good Luck!

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    Practice Like You Play ConorMacleod's Avatar
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    Great discussion. New teams are about to form in our area, with tryouts this week and next. Time to ask DD's, who are 12 & 13, what their goals are (not MY goals for them). And to ask them where they want to be. Starting pitcher and catcher? Better work a lot harder. Back-up players with other interests? I just need to let them know that whatever they want, I will support them 100%. Again, my sports career is over. It is about what they want now.

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    Always learning... Eric F's Avatar
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    Words from someone who reached "elite" status....My Favorite Catcher. Ever. | Amanda Scarborough
    A TB parent's life...Drive. Write checks. Eat tacos.

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    Softball Junkie SCDad's Avatar
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    You have already done what you need to do. The rest is up to her.

    Push her if you think you must. It is what is inside her that matters. Do not judge her decisions. The highest level is super, super hard to obtain. DD ... And DD only will decide if she gets there,
    .

  11. #19
    I can talk softball all day jacman's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=marriard;265882]Some things you may not be thinking about......

    Loads of stuff here to think about. Thanks for this.

  12. #20
    I can talk softball all day jacman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Romrell View Post
    Want a truly "elite" athlete DD? Pray prior to conception that your DD is borne with it--the drive to be elite. Sadly, my two daughters were not, and it was likely due to the fact that I didn't pray for it.
    Prayer is actually a big thing for us and softball. Never to be better than someone else, but to be the best she can be, and to be thankful for the gifts of skill and freedom to play. Hopefully this reduces the risk of the bighead Cannonball mentioned, and hopefully keeps the game, however central it may continue to be, fun and in it's proper perspective.

    The "drive to be elite...." That's a big key, isn't it, and that's where I really try to step back, letting DD's drive be determinant, not mine. What I often note in her often is that she is driven to be better than others, but not always to find her personal best, so she sometimes stops short. Frankly, I doubt that "better than others" is enough to truly become elite. It strikes me as more of an external motivator, not an internal drive. This is where I where I try to employ the four P's (Patience, Positivity, Persistance, and Prayer) in my interactions with her.

    There are times, though, when DD has blown me away with her drive. Pitching in a game about a year ago, she was involved in a train wreck with 1B going after a little pop flare between them. She went down screaming, which she doesn't do. She tried to stand up before anyone could get to her, and fell over, unable to put weight on her right leg. A doctor at the game rushed out, and said deep bruising, but no breaks; she could do whatever her pain would allow. After a minute of walking around, she tried a few pitches and then continued, striking out 5 of the next 6 batters. There have been a few times - this was one - where she has inspired me.

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