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Is there ANY room for crying in softball?

Jan 24, 2009
One day out from an incident and I am still farily heated about it, so I thought I'd defer to the cool heads here for a rational answer. Is there any room for crying in softball?

I am talking about a 10u 'A' team comprised only of 10 & 11 yo's. I don't believe there is ANY room for crying after an error, or after being put out, or after a 'K.' I'm not saying that crying is inexcusable after being plinked on the hand, taking a cleat to the ankle or some kind of legitimate injury.

However, I have seen enough of the crying after a fielding or throwing error and I've decided to go ZERO TOLERANCE. Such selfish crying and the attitude that comes with it kills the morale of the team and I feel it is wrong to allow one kid to bring a team down. If she cannot cheer and stay 'up' and positive even after a less than stellar individual performance then she should go to the bench and stay there. Actually I don't even want that on my bench, it can go to the bleachers.

Yesterday after a fielding error our third baseman was sobbing in front of the opposing team's dugout and out of the game mentally. I called time and switched her to right field (only carrying 9 players). I made it clear to her that everyone makes errors. I wasn't moving her due to any error, but because of the crying. Next 1/2 inning she is on deck and still has that 'my mother just died' look on her face. I tell her loud and clear that I am willing to bat a 7yo little sister of a team mate (listed as a sub in case of injury) if she doesn't knock it off NOW.

One day after the fact, I think I will adopt a policy that any position change due to selfishness/attitude/crying will be a change to the bench only. I will not tolerate it at all. Further, I feel so strongly about this that I am willing to bench her even if there is no sub and play short.

However, I am allowing a cool down period before my manifesto and I'm open to other points of view. Any arguments out there to just deal with the mental breakdown/sobbing? 'Everyone shows there emotions differently.' 'She's just so competitive and it kills her to perform poorly.' 'They're GIRLS.' ' She's only 10-almost-eleven.'

I say it's all hogwash and the crying is a selfish act that shows she is out for herself and not the team. She wants herself and her stats to shine and could give a crap about the team win. I'm about to go 'League of Their Own' on this issue at practice tomorrow and then ban the tears and depression forever. Agree or disagree with moving a team mental drain off the field and even out of the dugout?

Taking a deep breath.
Jun 22, 2008
You have to be very carefull how you handle these situations. Some girls are very emotional and it just comes out. If you try to punish them for it, it just makes it even worse. How do you know it was just because she wanted her stats to shine? Maybe it was because she felt bad about making an error and letting her team down?

My daughter had her issues with crying and it was never because she was being selfish, it was always because she felt she had let the rest of the team down. And she had coaches much like you that decided the best thing to teach her a lesson was to park her on the bench which only made it worse. Now she knew that if she made a mistake and even looked like she might cry, she was getting benched.

I attempted to talk with the coaches about it, explained that if you just ignored it, it lasted about 15 to 30 seconds and was done and over with and she would go right back to doing her job. Nope, had to bench her, had to show her how to be tough and that crying wasnt acceptable. She finished the season with the team, but moved on to a team that accepted her for who she was and believed in her abilities over the fact that occasionally she had minor emotional episodes. Heck, she is almost 20 now and still lets go sometimes.

I think it was the ASU shortstop was on tv the other night talking about how she cries about everything. Meyers got fed up with it and benched her at some point during the season. He finally figured out that it was just who the kid was and benching her wasnt going to fix it and put her back in the lineup.
Jan 15, 2009
I'm okay with benching a player who loses emotional control on the field. As a coach losing your own emotional control and yelling at a kid that is emotionally out of control (angry or crying) isn't acceptable, or productive.

Explain to the kid calmly that by losing control on the field they were letting down the team and that your not angry about it, but for the good of the team they need to sit on the bench until they can pull it together and demonstrate that their back in control and that their job from that point on was to help the team by cheering from the bench

I had to bench my best two players at 12U State for losing emotional control during our last game, they were crying about errors others had made and upset at the prospect of losing their last game because we were down 7-1. I pulled them down in the middle of an inning, explained why and after a half inning they were pumping up the entire bench as cheerleaders. We rallied to tie at 7-7 but eventually lost in extra innings.

Many girls struggle with feelings of inadequacy and are riddled with self doubt. I like the analogy that a kids emotions are like a gas tank, the way to keep it from going empty is to fill it up prior using it up. Every kid has success and failure relative to their ability level every day, every game, every practice. If you make a point of emphasizing the successes along with acknowledging the failures you can keep kids from running on empty. For each kid it's different. For the pitcher for U of Washington success is a grand slam and anything less than a hit she probably views as a failure. For some kids success might be progressing from striking out looking, to striking out swinging, or at least making contact even if they don't reach base safely.
Jun 24, 2008
I think it might benefit you to spend some time in practice on talking about how to handle mistakes. I am not necessarily opposed to the rule you are considering, but I think you also ought to give them the opportunity to learn how to deal with mistakes.

Something I read recently that has worked very well with my DD is having some sort of physical cue to signal that the mistake made is over and forgotten. She flushes them away and it has helped her regain her focus.

They have to learn that mistakes are going to happen. The real key is how you respond to it. Are you going to let one mistake become two? Three? Four? You don't have any control over the mistake you just made, but you do have control over how you react. Teach them to focus on the things they can control and to not worry about the things they can't.

Easier said than done, of course.

Some of it, too, may be things you have no control over like incredible amounts of pressure put on the kid by parents. If a girl is getting the third degree in the car after a tournament for all her mistakes, she might very well have a hard time forgetting them seeing as she knows she is going to hear about them later.
Jun 22, 2008
There are different levels of crying. Hysterical out of control, cant do anything. Sure, I agree they need to come off the field. But if all you are getting is a tear or two with no real emotional show involved, leave it alone. Making an issue out of it will only make it worse.
Jan 24, 2009
Thanks for the responses. We are now months into our practices and games. We have talked as a team about errors being contagious (hits too), how to recover, regain focus, etc. We have talked about how to be a responsible teammate and contribute after an error or strikeout. One kid really brings other team members down mentally, and she is a good player who we lose for 2 or more innings after any missed play...this isn't some 30 second session and then she's back into it. She wears it on her face and refuses to pump up with the rest of the team, sometimes tries to isolate herself on the bench. If she boots a grounder in warmups, she carries an attitude over into the game and her effort is shot. It's like she gives up instead of focusing, and that can be contagious as well.

I'm only half joking when I say maybe she should see a psychiatrist. Would never tell her that, but there may be some reason that she can NOT shake it off like any other kid. She has a very good family and her older sis doesn't have this problem.

Not sure how to handle it other than zero tolerance to prevent it from spreading to the next kid(s). When the team is pumped/rallying and this kid strikes out and shows her depression, the other girls show support, but when it continues they either don't pay it any attention or look at her like her actions are rediculous. They are of course correct.

At 10-11 yo, the girls are very near the age when they will demand accountability themselves. We are not at that point where the girls are commenting, but this kid has to change fast and the bench may be the motivation needed. Nothing else has seemed to work.

Jun 22, 2008
Dont know what to tell you on that one. If they are getting that hysterical that they cant function for 30 minutes over an error or bad play, maybe there are some underlying mental issues. Have you talked to the parents to see if she exhibits that behavior at home? It may be more of an issue you need to address with the parents than the girl. There may be things they can work with her on at home to help the situation on the field.
May 18, 2009
Are her parents vocal about her play? Do they put pressure on her? I've seen a few girls who's dads were critical of the DD's play at 10u and they were the girls that cried the most after a mistake. They are there to learn the game, sportsmanship, team work, and leadership, but if Dad is the type to lecture about play(during or after a game) they lose sight of this and feel the need to be perfect.
Feb 19, 2009
Sure there's crying in girls softball as that's what girls of all ages do for a various reasons, usually emotional reasons more so than physical. The biggest problem you have is not that one of them cries and checks out of the game mentally and disrupts the team chemistry but that you have very few options when she does.

I would be reluctant to start up or join a travel team at any age with only 9 (not counting lil' sis) on the roster. If you had a normal size travel roster of about 12 or so you sub out your crying girl and she would learn pretty quickly to manage her emotions if she wants to play.

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
Listen to NVfishing. We can't solve the problems at home. (Although, I am still tempted, every year.)

Sobbing and out of control has to be addressed and she needs to go home, probably. I don't want to see a player hurt because she is out of control.

Girls are going to cry. They are at a very stressful age with hormones and it may be that she doesn't even know why she reacts that way.

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