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9 yo DD is too intense

obbay

Banned
Aug 21, 2008
2,201
0
Boston, MA
There's a delicate balance between being psyched-up and being in "fight or flight" mode.

DD is a good ballplayer and she is really into it. She has great skills and reflexes for her age, but lately she has been trying too hard and making mistakes as a result. This has probably been exacerbated by being in "The Playoffs".

I am one of her coaches and I try to get her to relax but once the bat hits the ball she goes into hyper mode.

When she is pitching, it means "easy" grounders for her to field get bobbled and runners make it to 1B. when we are behind and this happens a few times, she will start walking batters.

When she's at 3B, and there's a runner on 2B, she will try to play every ball and forget to cover 3B.

At SS or 3B, she will field a hit and have the runner dead-to-rights at 2B, but then tosses it underhand from too far away, allowing the runner to beat the throw. (She has a good arm and that is why we have her at 3B).

I yell at her at the time a) to make sure she knows what she did wrong and b) to make sure she hears me- but there's also c) I'm yelling because I'm frustrated that she is making a mistake again that we have explained to her before. I feel bad about it, but if she wasn't trying so hard, she wouldn't be making these mistakes.

She also gets very down on herself and blames herself for her whole team's performance. She's only 9 fer cryin out loud! I want her to have fun and not be so concerned about winning "the championship".

She's too competitive. Any recommendations on how to slow her down and enable her to just enjoy the game?
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,905
83
Dallas, Texas
As to the mental part, the best thing you can do is acknowledge her feeling that she wanted to win or "she could have played better", and then move on. You have to teach her how to deal with this, and you do so by example. You should let her vent and tell you how she feels without arguing with her, but the end of each conversation has to be something like, "The sun will still come up tomorrow."

The other thing is that you need to understand is that you have to do a lot of one-on-one work with your DD.

You should watch the game objectively, make a note of the errors, and then work one-on-one (not with the team) to fix the problems. It takes a lot of time. You have to practice with her alone almost every day doing the most mundane drills in the world.

If she didn't do the SS-to-2B toss correctly, then you need to go out and work with her on the toss for perhaps one hour. This is not work "with the team", so usually you have to find either a mom, brother, sister, or someone to play 2B.

And, when you do this work, you want to concentrate on the specific problem. So, this would be an hour of hitting easy ground balls right to her and having her toss to 2B.

If you really want a top flight SS, then you work with her individually for an hour a day 5 or 6 days a week. You work on short hops, on throwing, on backhands, etc. You need to learn the correct way to do everything.

Ray
 
Jan 15, 2009
585
0
There's a delicate balance between being psyched-up and being in "fight or flight" mode.

DD is a good ballplayer and she is really into it. She has great skills and reflexes for her age, but lately she has been trying too hard and making mistakes as a result. This has probably been exacerbated by being in "The Playoffs".

I am one of her coaches and I try to get her to relax but once the bat hits the ball she goes into hyper mode.
When dealing with a kid that gets into this type of mental state I talk to them about letting the play happen not making it happen. IMO you can only perform at your top level when your focused on what your doing not focused on the result. I.E. when the kid needs to stay on "I need to be ready to field the ball" not "I need to make an out" the more you want a result the more likely you'll get in your own way trying to get that result.


When she is pitching, it means "easy" grounders for her to field get bobbled and runners make it to 1B. when we are behind and this happens a few times, she will start walking batters.

When she's at 3B, and there's a runner on 2B, she will try to play every ball and forget to cover 3B.
I would say that a good 3B fields everything the can get to (within reason) and it's the SS job to cover the bag if 3B fields the ball. But I understand what your saying, there is judgement here. Don't dive for a ball your never going to get and leave your position unattended.

At SS or 3B, she will field a hit and have the runner dead-to-rights at 2B, but then tosses it underhand from too far away, allowing the runner to beat the throw. (She has a good arm and that is why we have her at 3B).

I yell at her at the time a) to make sure she knows what she did wrong and b) to make sure she hears me- but there's also c) I'm yelling because I'm frustrated that she is making a mistake again that we have explained to her before. I feel bad about it, but if she wasn't trying so hard, she wouldn't be making these mistakes.
This is the crux of the problem. If you knew that when you make a mistake that your coach/parents reaction would be yelling and showing frustration towards you, does that put more or less pressure on the player, and make them focus more or less on the result as opposed to the process. YOUR the adult, YOUR the one that needs to stay in emotional control and help your child be successful. If that means that you can't show frustration when your kid makes an error then don't show frustration. Stay focused on what you want and only doing things that help allow that to happen. It's easier said than done, but it's possible

She also gets very down on herself and blames herself for her whole team's performance. She's only 9 fer cryin out loud! I want her to have fun and not be so concerned about winning "the championship".

She's too competitive. Any recommendations on how to slow her down and enable her to just enjoy the game?
This starts with you. If she feels this way it's learned behavior, you need to reinforce that it's most important to play well and feel good about the effort you made not focus on the result (win/loss). That comes from you reinforcing it to her. Your daughter can't control the result of the game, she can control her effort level and if you are consistantly praising good effort, win or lose, and only being critical when the effort doesn't seem good, win or lose, your daughter will come to understand that she can control her effort and thereby control your reaction by simply making her best effort.

You may not think that your focused on winning, but ask yourself what the car ride home is like after a win? after a loss? If your bouncing off the walls happy after a win in which she didn't play well, or upset after a loss where she performed great, your reinforcing that the result is more important than the effort.

FYI

This doesn't mean you lie to a kid and tell them they are playing great when they are not. Focus on what they can control.
On a play in the field

1. We're they in the proper position
2. How were their mechanics on fielding the ball
3. Did they make the right decision on where to go with the ball
4. How were their mechanics throwing the ball
5. If there was error, what was their reaction, did they go where they needed now that the play progressed to a new situation

If they do all 5 of these wrong then your a bad coach :). If not praise what they got right and discuss (not yell) what they can do better when you have an opportunity, maybe that's right away, maybe it's in between innings, maybe it's after the game in private, it depends on the kid and what kind of reinforcement they respond best to.

IMO what causes unforced errors is fear. Fear of being criticized, Fear of injury, Fear of failure. You need to minimize the fear of being criticized as a coach. I.e. player feels criticism will be fair and designed to instruct, not hateful or angry. Then you need to get them to understand that failure is part of the game and doesn't need to be feared, just understood. Every hit is a failure to the defense, every out is a failure for the offense, the game can't be played perfect only well. Fear of injury is the hardest to deal with and depending on where it's occurring you have to set up non-threatening situtaions to mimic it and hope to mitigate those fears through repetition. Once kids relax and play in a fearless manner you get IMO the best play that they have in them.
 

obbay

Banned
Aug 21, 2008
2,201
0
Boston, MA
Thank you!
Both of you have provided some excellent info and have given me a framework I can work within.

I have worked with players having fear of injury, but never considered fear of failure!
That is her!

The only time I yelled at her when pitching was when the bases were loaded, a short dribbler hit toward the mound, she bobbled it, picked it up about 4'-0" in front of the plate, turned her back to the plate and the approaching runner and threw to 1B not in time. She knows better than that but it's EXACTLY what both of you were just talking about. panic. fear of failure confusing her thinking.

In the car ride home, I try to pump her up, concentrating on her successes rather than mistakes. If she had a rough game and we won, I try to keep it positive and talk about the highlites. She will usually start criticizing herself and when she does I try to stop it right there. I tell her we learn from our mistakes and it was a great game to make mistakes! If we lost, Mistakes are how we learn and everyone makes mistakes. We win as a team and we lose as a team. Lets learn from it and move on.

I am usually more of an encouraging, instructive, "consider your audience" kind of coach. I see now that I have slipped away from that and need to return to it.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,905
83
Dallas, Texas
Snotzcat is right--you, as a parent of a talented athlete, forfeit the right to yell at your DD during a game. Let another coach do it. You shut up.

As I've mentioned, I raised two college athletes, and I made lots of mistakes. But, I learned that during a game, I have to sit there and "shut up". It is very, very difficult. (Trying doing it during an NCAA championship game--I almost passed out.)

I would make a list during the games of what she needs to work on. When it came time to practice, I would pull out the list and go to work, perhaps reminding her of the the reason why she was working on something.

The funny thing--they started coming up to me after games and asking me what they did wrong and how they could fix it.
 

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
8,507
48
Tucson
Boy, you don't know how many pitchers I see that are this way, and they are 8 and 9 YOS.

The parents bring them to me, because they don't know what to do with them.

Usually, they are throwing the ball at home, in the garage or up against the fence all of the time.

Sometimes, when they have had a lesson and pitched that night, I have to tell them that they cannot even touch a softball the next day. They end up just going outside and swinging the bat.

The parents aren't pushing the girls that I see, they weren't even athletes.
 

obbay

Banned
Aug 21, 2008
2,201
0
Boston, MA
I don't know if it was the change in our approach, or if DD worked it out for herself but she's back!

Mom has been trying to convince her to slow down a little and relax when she feels herself getting nervous or tense. Dad told her he's not yelling anymore, only encouragement or if she can't hear what I'm saying.

She had a good game last night (which wound up being the last game of the season) and pitched the 2nd half of game, and did great. She only gave up a few runs, made no errors and accounted for 8 out of 9 of the other team's outs. Good night at bat too, going 4/4 with a big 2-run triple.

You've given me some excellent advice that I am saving and will put into practice going forward. Somewhere along the line, I went off track but now I know we all enjoy the game a lot more when I just let her play the game.
 
Nov 8, 2008
45
0
Fort Worth, TX
Kids need to understand that they are going to loose games, no matter how good they are. It takes an entire team to win. As long as they give their best effort, that is all we can ask for.
 
Jun 6, 2009
240
0
IMO, SB/BB are sports of failure. By that I mean a players relative worth is proportional to "messing up" the least. Hard sports to master, which is what makes them "fun".

Which probably explains why "commie kickball" (soccer) is so popular. :D
 

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