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Please tell me it will get better

Apr 30, 2018
259
28
DD started softball with a spring season in 8u rec ball and she was hooked. We did rec fall ball in 10u and then found a travel team for the following spring. Very few choices for teams unless we drive at least an hour so I naively picked a new team with an established organization that was close (30 min) from us. Coaching was less not good and coach was replaced for fall 10u ball. New coach at least showed up on time, but quickly resorted to negative punishment for every mistake. Miss a catch, run the foul poles, miss a sign at the plate, run the foul poles, make a bad throw, run the foul poles. DD was absolutely dreading practice and games. Seemed like this was a track team not a softball team if you watched how much running they did in practice. We left at the end of fall ball. Really wanted to try and find a new team for this spring, but my work travel got in the way and we missed tryouts. We decided to go back to rec ball for her last 10u season. A bunch of girls signed up at the last minute so they were short a coach. I was asked to coach (only have been an assistant before), and they found a former head coach who could help mentor me some. Even though there is a draft, the coaches can preselect 3 players which locked up the 3 good pitchers and the 2 average pitchers. We were left with scraps since it was a last minute 4th team. Our team is total cannon fodder. So far our combined scored over four games is 3-36. I have two pitchers that can't hit the broad side of a barn and a third pitcher in training that isn't ready to try pitching in a game. None of the three pitchers were in lessons until after the season started. On top of that my DD (our best hitter and catcher) was injured in the very first game and is out for 3 weeks. We faced the best team last night in our 4th game and there wasn't a single ball hit last night other than one foul ball by either team. Our pitchers either walked or hit every batter they faced, and our entire team only swung three times the entire game. One hit the foul ball the other two swings were misses. The rest of the girls just stood there and struck out looking no matter how much I encourage and pleaded with them to swing. My one catcher is getting smoked trying to chase down every wild pitch and I'm frantically trying to train another catcher. At this point I want to just forfeit all our games and hold extra practices instead. Without any pitchers the ball is never put in play so the team just sits there and doesn't learn anything.

My DD is trying to stay upbeat about it and I keep telling her it will get better, but I just can't seem to make a decent decision on finding her a team. I'm not looking for some stud team that wins every tournament, just a good coach and a team that can go 50% W/L on the season. I feel like I am totally failing at this.
 
Nov 25, 2012
1,116
63
Texas
Lancer, you have been dealt a tough hand of cards. Hang in there. If you were in North Texas I guarantee I would come to help you out.
 
Jan 8, 2019
296
43
DD started softball with a spring season in 8u rec ball and she was hooked. We did rec fall ball in 10u and then found a travel team for the following spring. Very few choices for teams unless we drive at least an hour so I naively picked a new team with an established organization that was close (30 min) from us. Coaching was less not good and coach was replaced for fall 10u ball. New coach at least showed up on time, but quickly resorted to negative punishment for every mistake. Miss a catch, run the foul poles, miss a sign at the plate, run the foul poles, make a bad throw, run the foul poles. DD was absolutely dreading practice and games. Seemed like this was a track team not a softball team if you watched how much running they did in practice. We left at the end of fall ball.
Lame! Glad you were smart enough to get out of that!

Even though there is a draft, the coaches can preselect 3 players which locked up the 3 good pitchers and the 2 average pitchers. We were left with scraps since it was a last minute 4th team.
WTH? How could this possibly result in a fair draft? It will not likely help you this year, but you should approach your Board and try to persuade them that this method is nonsense! I could see this for 8U where they are trying to keep friends together in order for them to have enough fun to come back the next year, but at 10U and up, this just leads to team stacking, coach stacking and politics up the Yazoo! The goal for a rec league should be to have equally strong teams.

We hold ONLY the coach's DD as a protected player, and coach is forced to select her in the round she is ranked. Each team MUST select a pitcher in the first round, then a catcher is suggested, but coaches are allowed to develop their own strategies. ACs cannot be pre-chosen, must come with the players during the draft, although there are times when all coaches will agree to let a certain coach team with another one from time to time. Teams tend to be relatively balanced, but there are definitely kids and coaches who are more talented than others and can create some imbalance quickly.

Our team is total cannon fodder. So far our combined scored over four games is 3-36. I have two pitchers that can't hit the broad side of a barn and a third pitcher in training that isn't ready to try pitching in a game. None of the three pitchers were in lessons until after the season started. On top of that my DD (our best hitter and catcher) was injured in the very first game and is out for 3 weeks. We faced the best team last night in our 4th game and there wasn't a single ball hit last night other than one foul ball by either team. Our pitchers either walked or hit every batter they faced, and our entire team only swung three times the entire game. One hit the foul ball the other two swings were misses. The rest of the girls just stood there and struck out looking no matter how much I encourage and pleaded with them to swing. My one catcher is getting smoked trying to chase down every wild pitch and I'm frantically trying to train another catcher. At this point I want to just forfeit all our games and hold extra practices instead. Without any pitchers the ball is never put in play so the team just sits there and doesn't learn anything.

My DD is trying to stay upbeat about it and I keep telling her it will get better, but I just can't seem to make a decent decision on finding her a team. I'm not looking for some stud team that wins every tournament, just a good coach and a team that can go 50% W/L on the season. I feel like I am totally failing at this.
I had a team that went 0-11-1 one season! It was not until the final 2 games that I EVER heard a parent or player say anything about it! We made sure everyone understood that we were developing players at all positions (as practical and safe), tried to enforce proper fundamentals, physical fitness, and most importantly, tried to keep it fun!

All but two of those kids are still playing today, and are doing fairly well! 1 or 2 may end up playing at D1 schools in 3-4 years (not because of me!). One kid that I see here and there on other teams always asks about my current teams and if they have to do warm ups (and specifically core exercises). She remembers it being hard and fun, but has never once brought up our losing record! She took away the good stuff!

Plan the practices out to keep them all busy all of the time doing good drills with some fun and competitive stuff mixed in. Set goals for them. Communicate with the parents and let them know what you're trying to do. Give the girls homework. Have fun! If you can find the fun in it, I bet they will, too!

Best of luck!
 
Dec 10, 2015
583
28
Chautauqua County
Without any pitchers the ball is never put in play so the team just sits there and doesn't learn anything. But the other teams have pitching, yes? So work on hitting. Keep "score" by awarding points for bases made, including walks.
 
May 6, 2015
1,377
83
draft is way out of whack, as already stated (stacked "drafts" are one of my pet peeves in rec ball, once had a coach get 3 of the 5 or 6 best players in the division with one pick because they were sisters/stepsisters, then still picked in subsequent rounds, he had a full team by round 6).

also, if your pitching is that bad, suggest coach pitch after 4 balls with bases loaded. makes teams put in play to score. count continues, 3 pitch maximum. if you get push back from the league, tell them they shouldn't have rigged the draft to give you no pitching. if you feel strongly enough, tell them you will simply practice and run internal scrimmages rather than show up for predetermined beat downs (if you have 12, break them into 3 teams of 4, one in IF, one C and OF, another is hitting, coach pitching for now, rotate every three outs)
 
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Mar 28, 2014
479
63
I had a sign for "Mandatory swing" that I would give a batter if she was just standing there watching everything. I didn't care where it was, I wanted them to swing. If they still didn't swing, I would give it until they did. Eventually they will get the courage to swing. Some will get lucky and foul one off. Might even put one in play. That little victory can give them confidence to swing on their own which in turn causes a few balls to run into their bats throughout the season. Anything is better than watching every strike and getting further demoralized.

Whatever it takes to get them to swing, do it now while the season is young and before their confidence is completely shattered.
 
Dec 2, 2013
1,119
83
Texas
10U Rec ball is difficult for players, coaches and parents because of the pitching. We usually had about 10 teams in this division and maybe 3 to 4 pitchers actually threw strikes. I had a one pitcher that threw a change up too. 1, 2, 3 strikes you're out! I would hang in there and change your team goals around player development. Every player learns to bunt, steal a base, play infield and outfield, get the lead runner out, put the ball in play, etc. If you spend more time with your bottom 4-5 players it will make a huge difference and will lead to overall team improvements.

My last pick on my 10U All star team was picked because I like the dad and I knew he could help, but the kid wasn't that strong of a player. She struggled and decided not to come back to the league the next year instead choosing her private school for "social reasons." Fast forward a few years, I invited her back to play 14U rec and All stars. She continued to work hard and struggled in many aspects of the game, but was very determined to improve. Her Senior Year she hit 14 HR's and is playing in College this year!

Just keep at it. You are the coach! These kids need you to help them to learn to love the game, and they won't remember their team record 5 years from now, but they will remember YOU.
 
Aug 13, 2018
52
18
That's rough. I can't imagine our local rec league running a 10U program without modified coach pitch. There just isn't enough pitching, and all the girls that are taking lessons have already moved on to travel.

Just keep trying to make sure the girls are improving. I had a similar team last year, we lost every game in the fall, and lost every game in the spring until the last week of may. Then something clicked and we won like 4 of the last 6 games we played or something like that. It can get better, if the girls are having fun (and part of our job is to make sure they're having fun, even when losing!) Individual achievements get praised even in blowouts. A big container of starbursts from Costco that you can give out a piece or two for "Sally swung and didn't look at the third strike" or "Suzzie made the right play even though we didn't get the out" goes a LONG way to girls of that age.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,553
83
Mundelein, IL
Wow, Lancer, if I was trying to put together a scenario that would discourage a bunch of kids (and parents) from playing softball anymore this would be the one. As Strike3 said you have been dealt a tough hand.

Fortunately, one of the things you may find is it doesn't bother your players nearly as much as it bothers you. They might be having fun in spite of the score, especially if you're making practices fun.

For pitching, I don't know what you're doing right now but if the pitchers are trying to do a windmill maybe they should just go to the slingshot instead. Especially if they don't really plan on pitching long-term. The slingshot makes it easier for them to get the ball over the plate - they can just guide and push it - without risking their shoulders. Ordinarily I preach no guiding/pushing, but if they're just volunteers doing the best they can for now it doesn't hurt anything. If they do have ambitions of pitching long-term, though, then you'll have to live with the wildness until they start to figure it out.

For hitting, try rewarding them. For example, tell the girls that you will buy ice cream or bring some other treat for anyone who swings at X number of pitches in the next game, regardless of whether they hit the ball or not. If you get enough swings some are likely to hit the ball by the law of averages, and then maybe it will encourage the others to try more. Anything to get the bats off their shoulders.

Another thing you can try is going to the grocery store and getting some fruit that is either expired or about to. Then soft or front toss the fruit and tell them you want to see it explode when they hit it. Berries of some sort tend to work well for this. It's fun and silly, and it makes a mess, but it encourages them to swing. Just be sure to bring a towel to clean up the bats and maybe the girls afterwards. Or bring a beachball and let them hit that.

You can always try setting a shrine to Jobu and asking him to make the bats not be afraid of the ball.


Just get them swinging and good things will probably happen.
 
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