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Outgrowing a team?

Jun 24, 2008
26
0
We just finished our first spring/summer of travel ball. My DD really loves playing (she is 9) and already has set herself a goal of playing in college. We chose to get into travel ball because of the opportunity it would provide her to improve and play against better competition as opposed to Dixie which is what they play here. I ended up as an assistant coach on the team.

And it was a very frustrating experience, particularly at the end of the season.

In February and March, we practiced as consistently as the weather would allow and I felt good about our progress. But then rec ball started, something 10 of the 12 kids on the team played. Mine was not one of them for a variety of reasons, one of which being the fact that we wanted her to commit to travel ball and not have conflicts with another team.

Long story short, it turns out that the head coach didn't make that same commitment.

His daughter played on the same rec team as a few others from our squad, and they ended up winning the league title which meant they made All-Stars, where he is also a coach. The all-star team is essentially our travel team with six of our players on the team.

When schedules for the all-star tournaments came out, they conflicted with our final two scheduled travel dates of the year. The result was basically that all-stars was chosen over our travel team. From the point that decision was made, our travel team nose-dived (we still had a couple of tournaments left to play). We never practiced and lost both to teams we had beaten fairly easily earlier in the year and to teams that had no business beating us.

Toward the end of the last tournament, when he was clearly frustrated with our performance, I made the comment about as straight-forward as I can make it that we need to go after this travel thing full-throttle and dump Dixie ball. The response kind of skirted the issue and he said something about "finding better players." That stuck in my craw and has continued to irritate me since because it should have been our job as coaches to make the players we had selected better. Hard to do that, of course, when you never practice because everyone has rec league games.

To make matters worse, I find out yesterday that the all-star team is practicing EVERY DAY when I couldn't convince him to practice at all with our travel team except on weekends that we weren't playing.

My DD and I would go out and watch some of the rec games, and every time I asked her if she wished she had played, she laughed and said "no." She's 9, but she's smart enough to understand the difference in the level of play and to know that she won't get better seeing 23 MPH pitching with an arc that might get within a foot of the strike zone.

In short, I've begun to feel that we have outgrown our current team, not from a performance standpoint but rather from a mental/goals standpoint. My DD was right in the middle of the pack in terms of performance and is hardly a superstar, but she works hard, improves consistently, and currently has the desire to get to a high level of play as she ages. If things with our current team don't change, the situation will not match her goals. There was too much of a rec-league mentality about making everyone happy, etc.

Right now, my plan is to wait until all-stars is over and have a heart-to-heart with our head coach about the situation. My fear is that things will never change to the degree they need to in order for us to be a more competitive team. I also have a gut feeling that we'll be down to four players (one pitcher) next year and that's with just three moving up to 12U.

In the meantime, I'm looking for tryouts to get her to. She and I have discussed it, because she has several friends on the team, and she is ready to change teams. I wouldn't think about moving her if she wanted to stay on there because the social aspect was that important.

Anyone else who's been through this that could offer some advice and insight, I'd appreciate it. Am I handling this right?
 
May 7, 2008
110
0
I know this is very difficult to hear BUT...you need to take a deep breath. Your DD is only 9. You will never make it if you don't keep things in perspective. This journey you are on is going to be over in the blink of an eye. Try to enjoy it more. It's obviously time for you to find another team with the caveat that NO team will meet all of your expectations. Good luck.

Keith
 
May 13, 2008
832
0
TNSD, it isn't unreasonable to have expectations that include your DD's travel team to have regular practices and for the coaches to dedicated to their team. Many kids play rec ball to be with their friends, but it sounds as though your daughter would rather play hard and this is a good thing. I think that it is commendable for her to set lofty goals at such a young age. Now it is your job to help her understand the dedication that it will take to get to that level of play. Even if she falters, there will be plenty of life lessons learned along the way.

You can have the heart-to-heart with her current coach, but I doubt that it will do any good. I'd say that he may be happier being a big fish in a small pond at this point, eschewing the challenge of tougher competition in travel ball for a shiny three dollar rec league trophy. I'd suggest you find out the tryout dates of the travel teams you'd like your DD to play for and get to as many of them as you can. In the meantime, get to the fields and practice as much as you can so you can get on with the team that matches your needs the best.
 

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
8,507
38
Tucson
I can understand kids that are 9,10, 11 and 12 playing rec ball. Many here are on All Stars and TB. You can play both this year.

Good luck to your DD, but I hope that she has activities other than TB, like piano, scouts and swimming. If softball ends she will want to be doing something.

I do agree that All Stars practice practically every day. They have a short time period to prepare.
 
Jun 24, 2008
26
0
I know this is very difficult to hear BUT...you need to take a deep breath. Your DD is only 9. You will never make it if you don't keep things in perspective. This journey you are on is going to be over in the blink of an eye. Try to enjoy it more. It's obviously time for you to find another team with the caveat that NO team will meet all of your expectations. Good luck.

Keith
Just curious...what do you think my expectations are?
 
Jun 24, 2008
26
0
I can understand kids that are 9,10, 11 and 12 playing rec ball. Many here are on All Stars and TB. You can play both this year.

Good luck to your DD, but I hope that she has activities other than TB, like piano, scouts and swimming. If softball ends she will want to be doing something.

I do agree that All Stars practice practically every day. They have a short time period to prepare.
She does have other things...girl scouts, swimming, church activities, etc. Softball is not 24/7 and I do not intend for it to be. She's been at camps (not softball) the last two weeks and having fun.

I don't disagree that All-Stars should practice a lot...but why wouldn't a travel team practice, too?
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,854
63
Dallas, Texas
It is good you are learning about this now rather than 5 years from now...

Never assume that the team's priorities and your priorities are the same. The problem was that you and the head coach didn't cover this issue at the beginning of the season with the rest of the team. The team should have made a decision as to priorities at the very beginning. *YOU* are responsible for finding out exactly what the coach's plans are. Don't assume anything.

At your DD's age, RB or TB doesn't matter. If everyone wanted to play rec ball as well as travel ball, it would be OK at your DD's age. The main thing is to get the kids on the field playing ball.

A couple of points:

(1) In TB, player improvement occurs because of the parents working with their DD, not because the coach works with them at practice. In RB, coaches can improve their players.
(2) As the TB team improves, your DD's playing time decreases. The other players are better, so your child isn't going to be on the field as much as you might want.

IMHO, when you daughter is ready to play 14U, then you should go looking for the most competitive team you can find. Until then, she should play on a team (or teams) where she gets to play as much as possible. She should play as many games as possible. Personally, I think it is a good idea for her to play both TB and RB at the same time at her age.

JRW
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,854
63
Dallas, Texas
Again, your DD is real young. But, in the future, if your DD gets on a good TB team, it is softball 24x7. If she isn't playing a game, a team practice, fund raising or team events, then she is practicing on her own.

That is what it takes to play in college. So, be careful what you wish for--somewhere in southern California a 9 year old girl is taking ground balls right now.
 

halskinner

Banned
May 7, 2008
2,695
0
Happened to me when I was 18

Here is a true story that happened to me when I was just out of high school and in a very similar situation. It is also one of the chapters of my book.




PLAYING UP TO THE CHALLENGE

In my years of competition I accumulated many trophies. Several years ago I got tired of dusting them all off every week. I took off the name plates and donated them to a charity that could use them. I did, however, hang on to a few of the ones I was most proud of and a couple that brought back warm memories.

One of the trophies I kept was a small one, the first one I ever earned as an adult. It read: "Most Valuable Pitcher, 1974, Hayward Men's Fast Pitch, "D" League".

I joined a team right out of High School. The guys on that team were sports writers, 'typewriter pounders', as they described themselves. They told me right from the start that they were not very good players and they seldom won but they were a good bunch of guys and they always had a lot of fun. So I joined the team.

They were right. Anyone that made it to 1st, pretty much got a free trip to home plate. I believe we placed 9th out of 12 teams that year, however, I won the MV Pitcher trophy for the league. I did have a lot of fun with those guys, they were a blast and we laughed about everything.

During the season with that team I got a few calls from other teams. The other teams asked me to jump ship and pitch for them, all of them were teams in higher leagues. I said no because I made a commitment to the guys and I would stick it out with them for the rest of the season. That was my first season playing in ASA competition.

A few years after I gave those trophies away, a friend of mine came to my house. He asked me, "Why did you hang on to this little hunk-a-junk from D league? You have these other trophies and plaques from the metros, regionals and nationals and those are all A league. How come you kept this one"?

I kept that trophy so I would never forget where I came from in softball. Those were some of my softball roots.

I did not play for that team the next year. The manager would have, no doubt, welcomed me back with open arms. He never called me because the whole team knew what my answer would be. I am glad he did not call me because I would have hated to tell them no. I was going to move up and they were not. Every player on the team knew that, without one word being said.

We had all played to the best of our ability for the 'team'. Now it was time for me to move up. I have very fond memories of those guys and the fun we had playing on that team. I will never forget them.

When I came home with that trophy, I asked my Dad if he thought I was good enough to play B league the next year. This was about a 6 level jump at the time, from D to B. He chuckled and said, "I guess you'll never know till you try, huh"? If you knew my Dad then, you would understand that he was challenging me. My Dad was a B league pitcher at that time, having worked his way up from D league over a 15-year period.

Before the next season arrived I took a job out of the area. I did not play the next season.

The next year I checked around and found a team that was looking for a pitcher. I told them I did real well in D league 2 years ago. The coach then pointed out that they were an 'A' division travel team but it was OK if I wanted to come and try out for the team.

So I came out and did my best. The catcher and assistant coach wanted me to play for them because they saw potential. The head coach did not agree. I was too young in his mind to be an effective A travel pitcher. However, they needed a third stringer so I was asked to join the team.

The head coach was very sincere and diplomatic in his talk with me. I will never forget what he said, "As long as you can get in the game and throw like an A travel pitcher, we'll give ya a try but the moment you start throwing like a D league pitcher, it's over".

We both knew that I had been challenged. My Dad's words from 2 years before started ringing in my ears.

Either I stepped up to that challenge and met it head on, or I could look for a D league team.

My competition for the #1 pitching spot were two 40 year old veteran Open A division pitchers. By the end of our first season, I was the #1 gun. I saw what my competition was on the pitching staff. I stepped up to that challenge.

I saw what my competition was against the batters I would be facing. I stepped up to that challenge.

We won both leagues we were in and almost all of the tournaments we entered the first year together in A travel competition.

The next year we did the same thing except we went on to win the metro tournament, then the regionals and then the A div National Tourney. I was voted the MV Pitcher of that tourney.

I made some choices and they were not easy ones. I chose to step up to the challenge because I had to. I had to because I could not stand not knowing if I had what it took to make it as a pitcher in a higher level.

The bigger the challenge, the harder it is and the better a pitcher will perform.

When I moved up, I left some good friends and a very nice coach behind. If I would have chosen to stay with that D league team, out of devotion to the team or friendship to them, I would have never really stepped up to the challenge. We might have slowly worked our way up to B league, like my Dad's team, over 15 years. We may have still been playing D league after 15 years, who knows?

Here are the big kick finish questions for young pitchers;

If you had your pick of the trophy you wanted, would it be a 1st place 'B' National Trophy or a 1st place 'A' National Trophy? If you pitched your team to a 1st place win at the 'B' nationals, would you be good enough to beat the team that took LAST place at the 'A' Nationals?

To quote my Dad one more time, "I guess you'll never know till you try, huh"?
 

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
8,507
38
Tucson
I think that Slugger is right. Most of the learning at age 9 goes on at home. I bet I spent 15 years, just throwing, catching and hitting with my 3 kids out in the front yard.

Beyond that, your DD is not too young for private hitting lessons and softball clinics.

I am glad that she is in other things and is supporting her friends in All Stars.

Enjoy it. The next 10 years go by way too fast.
 

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