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How to overcome fear of being hit by the ball.

May 24, 2009
3
0
My 14 year old daughter is the #1 pitcher on an A-level competitive team. Her mental toughness has always been one of her strengths. Until last October. During the game, she was hit (very hard) by a line drive to her abdomen. Since the Spring season has begun, she's not the same pitcher. She pitches great during practice, but loses confidence when a batter is in the box. She acknowledges that she's worried about getting hit again. The most noticeable problem is she walks several batters during a game, because she's scared to give the batter something they can hit. She does okay if she's facing an undisciplined batter or an umpire with a large strike zone. Don't get the wrong impression....my DD isn't a "wimp". She's strong in every area of her life except this one. Also, her coach has been understanding and is open to any advice I can gather.
 
We have a lot of girls on our team who are afraid of getting hit - the majority, with no reason, as you stated about your dd. My dd got popped in the jaw with a bad hop not too long ago. She dropped like a fly when she got hit - rightfully so. Ever since, she has worn a face mask and has worked through the "scary" part of it. She is now more wary of balls coming towards her and has better anticipation skills, if that makes any sense. She'll work through it. It's awesome that she has an understanding coach! :)
 

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
8,508
48
Tucson
I see padded under armor type shirts at Sport's Authority. Maybe that would help.

How well is she hitting her spots and is she keeping the ball off the middle of the plate? Is the catcher setting her up on the corners?

I would try hitting her lots of line drives. I wear a glove on one hand and I use the bat in my left.

Actually, the more careful she is the better chance of her getting hit again. MOO
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,921
83
Dallas, Texas
A rational, logical person could say, "Hey, I hate this freaking sport. I quit." or "This is kind of fun, but I'm sure not going to get my nose broke over this stupid game."

Before you start trying to "fix" your DD, you better make sure that she really wants to play softball. Players get torn ACLs, broken bones, and messed up shoulders playing softball. You can't guarantee that she will not get seriously injured playing softball. This is her decision, not yours.

In all sports, everyone quits sooner or later. It is just a question of when, not if. A rational, reasonable, logical person can decide at any time that it just ain't worth it and quit.

I have two DDs. DD#1 was a talented pitcher. DD#3 was a much better all-around athlete. Both had the same HS softball coach. DD#1 often said, "The softball coach is an idiot. But I'll play anyway." Three or four years later, at about the same age as DD#1 was when she made her pronouncement, DD#3 came in and said, "The softball coach is an idiot. After this season, I'm never playing again."

Was DD#3 mentally weak? Who was right?

They both were correct. DD#1 loved softball so much that she was willing to put up with all the crap that comes with it--and there is a ton of it. DD#3 didn't love softball as much, so she quit. (DD#3 went on to earn a national championship in hoops.)

Make sure that your DD wants to continue playing softball. She may be telling you by her actions that she is no longer interested in the game.

Ray
 

obbay

Banned
Aug 21, 2008
2,201
0
Boston, MA
Sluggers is, of course, right.

If your DD does want to play (and pitch), I'd suggest looking into the padding under the shirt like this:
SPX Chest Protector - Senior

When DD was 10, she had just overcome her fear of the ball when she joined a U14 summer league team. She did fine until more than halfway thru the season when a coach asked one of the fathers to hit balls to the infielders warming up for a game. Dad (who hadn't done this before, and hasn't done it since) rifled a one hopper that caught her square in the throat. I didn't see it hit but I heard the impact. It sounded just like someone took a bat and hit her in the chest. Fortunately she wasn't seriously injured, but she's 14 now and has a fear of the ball we haven't been able to shake. It's too bad because even though she was young, she wasn't afraid to put herself square in the path of an oncoming ball. The memory stays with her, even though she's bigger,stronger and hs better reflexes now.
 
May 24, 2009
3
0
Thanks. I've found the replies quite encouraging.

Sluggers, it had entered my mind that it was her way of telling me she's done with softball...but we've talked at length about it and I'm convinced that she wants to keep playing.

I'm going to approach her with the idea of the chest protector. I think it's a good idea, however the weather is pretty hot where we live. If she's receptive, I'll definitely buy her one.

Amy, I believe you're absolutely right....the more careful she is the better chance of her getting hit again. It comes down to confidence and her ability to control her mind/fear, which can be a difficult thing for a 14 year old girl. Heck, it can be a difficult thing at any age.
 

Coach-n-Dad

Crazy Daddy
Oct 31, 2008
1,011
0
There are some kids that will get over the fear by themselves, some that will get over it with a little work, some that will get over it with a lot of work and some that will never get over the fear at all, never, period. I have dealt with 3 of these types of kids with varying results:

1) The kid that will never get over the fear – a kid that played rec. ball and really wanted to play on the infield. We tried her everywhere including catcher with all the protective gear. No matter what we did she sidestepped the ball and turned her head when it got to her. We tried throwing tennis balls to her teaching her how to catch all types of balls; we tried building her confidence by throwing and hitting grounders to her, starting really slow and working faster; we tried many other drills designed to build her confidence fielding balls but in the end she still had the fear. She finished the season in the outfield and ended up quitting.

2) The kid that will get over it with a little work – First year travel ball player playing third base and pitcher, after playing rec. ball for 5 years. She caught a hard grounder in the jaw on a bad bounce sending her to the hospital; thankfully nothing broken just swollen for a couple of days and some loose teeth. We taught her how to handle balls by throwing tennis balls to her; then we got her on the field and hit grounders to her, starting slow and increasing speed, building her confidence. She got a face protector that she wore for about a week and decided that she didn’t like it. Less than a month after the incident she is back playing third base, she is not afraid to play in close and she always fields the ball in front of her and watches the ball into the glove. She is a better ball player for it.

3) The kid that will get over the fear by themselves – We have a pitcher that seems to have no fear. She has been hit by line drives in the legs, arms, chest, belly, hip, not the face yet but many close calls that she has fielded cleanly… She has been hit while in the batters box numerous times. This kid just doesn’t seem to have the fear. By talking to her I know that the fear is there, she just deals with it differently than most. She tells me that she knows that she is going to get hit but doesn’t worry too much about it because “everyone gets hit every now and then”.

Maybe your DD is the “kid that will get over it with a lot of work”. It sounds like she is making progress.

IMO, fear of getting hit is a healthy fear to have.

BRAVERY IS NOT HAVING NO FEAR, IT IS KNOWING HOW TO DEAL WITH IT
 

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