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Please tell me it will get better

Oct 2, 2017
1,304
83
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.
I've never coached but that sounds rough, I feel for you. When I see this happen sometimes, I think coaches try and shoulder too much of the responsibility. Not trying shift blame here. Again I haven't coached, but a coach can only do so much. Parents need to be more involved in the childs development goals and learning about the sport. I know some parents don't know what to do. but you could make a list of things that they can work on at home. I'm a firm believer kids that practice outside of the team at home progress better and faster than kids who's only practice time is with the team. It doesn't take much either time wise outside of practice either. 30 mins couple times a week outisde of the team can go a long ways.
 

Strike2

Allergic to BS
Nov 14, 2014
824
43
Rec can be tough. It's even tougher when Rec leagues are run by parents focused on competitive ball or their own kid's Rec team having an advantage. There is nothing to be gained by having league teams that are punching bags, yet we see it all the time.

DD played in two different 10U Rec leagues. One allowed walks, the other didn't. It was coach-pitch after four balls for however many strikes remained in the count. Guess which one was better for all concerned?

In DD's second 10U year, I got a grab-bag team, but there were some talented kids with motivated parents who hadn't yet been snatched for competitive ball that we trained up to be passable pitchers and catchers. I did pay a local pitching coach to help out, but with a no walk rule, I was as concerned with the pitcher's ability to field the position as their ability to throw strikes. By mid-season, we could out play everyone except for the competitive teams that the Rec league allowed.

Coaching is something that is learned by trial and error. There are so many things I'd do differently at the younger ages had I known what I know with a now 18U DD. We recently went to an indoor facility where a 12U team was working in the adjacent cages. There was sooo much yelling from the female head coach that DD and I were both a bit uncomfortable. A couple of parents sitting nearby watched us get started. As DD went through her hitting routine, I would occasionally give her a single word or just a hand signal telling her what to correct. I don't believe the contrast was lost on them.

Do the best you can and learn from everything that happens. You may discover a talent for coaching, but regardless, what you do now does impact each one of them.
 
Apr 30, 2018
261
28
Having seen on a couple of occasions how bad the negative reinforcement is on the girls, I keep it positive but it is hard at times. The only thing I use negative reinforcement for is talking when the coach is talking and other disrespectful behavior, never for making a mistake. I always keep a big bag of Jolly Ranchers in my backpack to give out at the end of practice. I'm going to have a short talk with the girls tonight at the start of practice to discuss the mental aspects of hitting. I think it is a combination of being afraid to be hit and expecting to be walked. They watched two girls on the team go down during our first game due to HBP and it may have shaken them up some.

Sent from my SM-G975U1 using Tapatalk
 
Jul 14, 2018
467
63
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 ... We were left with scraps since it was a last minute 4th team.
Kudos to you for taking this on. It does sound like a really tough situation, but you're facilitating a whole team of girls to get out there and learn and play softball.

Our team is total cannon fodder. So far our combined scored over four games is 3-36.
That doesn't sound bad at all! I remember coaching many 10U Rec games that ended 19-20, the team that won was the one that could get three outs before the five-run rule. Then there were the games where there was a pitcher who could throw strikes, which all ended 20-0.

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... At this point I want to just forfeit all our games and hold extra practices instead.
This isn't the worst idea, although kids and parents didn't sign up for three months of practice, they want to play and watch games. Maybe cut them back a lot, though, One game every two weeks while practicing the rest of the scheduled times? You should see marked improvement from game to game if you have a team of total beginners.

I feel like I am totally failing at this.
If you can teach some basic skills, and keep it fun, there's no failure. Others have made suggestions about rewarding little things, and that's a great idea. As long as you can keep a dugout full of smiles and girls who want to learn and get better, you're doing a great job.

Quick story that's kind of similar to your situation: I'm coaching DD's 2nd year 10U Rec team. League VP stacks the other team that he coaches with all of the town's best players. They cream us every time. We get to All-Stars, and I joke with some of the other parents about how much better their team was. Every one of them said that they wished their kid was on DD's team -- no prima donnas, no parents bickering over performance or playing time. We just had more fun.
 
Apr 30, 2018
261
28
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.
It definitely doesn't bother at least one of my players. At the end of the game she looked up at me and asked if we had won with a very cheerful voice. I just half chuckled and said "No, sweety we didn't", but my mind was screaming "no, you just got the worst ass kicking I have seen".

Sent from my SM-G975U1 using Tapatalk
 
Apr 28, 2014
1,548
83
Rock bottoms teach lessons Mountain tops never will.

At 10u pitching is everything, at 18U gold pitching is everything. Main focus needs to be getting your "pitchers" to consistently see a pitching coach that understands how to get the most out of what you are working with.
You too need to understand how to coach pitchers (I'm sure you do). Together you can get them to at least be somewhat comfortable.
Pitching is one of the hardest things to do in all of sports. But remember that how you handle the girls will leave a lasting impression on how they approach the game in the future.
Good luck!
 
Aug 23, 2016
253
28
When she was 8, DD was on a terrible basketball team. They would lose games by 30 points. They couldn't compete with the rest of the league.

So coach started giving the team, and individual girls, realistic goals for each game. He'd ask the team to make x number of good passes, or ask a player to make x number of shots. By the end of the season, the girls were still losing, but by less. Each of them got better, and each of them kept playing basketball after that season. So I think that's how you need to think - give the girls achievable goals, and then help them reach those goals.

Good luck!
 
Jul 16, 2013
3,740
113
Pennsylvania
First of all, it is very clear that you are in a difficult position. But working with a group of new players at that age can be incredibly rewarding once they start showing some progress.

My suggestion is to create a goal prior to every game. Based on the limited experience of this group, those goals are going to need to be small. Perhaps to make a few outs in tonight's game, or to swing at certain pitches. Then advance to putting the ball in play, etc. Give them goals that they can realistically meet, and then gradually expand on them as the season progresses. Another person mentioned a 5 run rule. My team had the goal of allowing less than 5 runs per inning at one point.

One thing I noticed at that age is that focus at practice vs a game are completely different. When we were first starting out, our team's hitting looked great during practice, but then when the game started, they became afraid to swing the bat. We chose to play scrimmages as often as possible. You really don't need an outfield for a 10u scrimmage, so as long as you have enough people to play around the infield, you can split your team into two squads. Scrimmages that include live hitting and fielding have a better chance of carrying over into the games. Honestly, we started with a lot of wiffle ball because it was less stressing for some of the players. Within a couple of weeks, we converted to softball without a problem.

Best of luck!! I know this is very stressful. But honestly, I really enjoyed 10u. The smiles when they actually started hitting the ball and making plays in the field were priceless.
 
May 6, 2015
1,380
83
Also, try one of my big preaches, to "fail spectacularly". the only failure that is unnacceptable is to not try 100%. Tell them you don't care if they make 5 throwing errors on a single play and a weak dribbler clears the bases, try to make outs. you don't care if they strike out 18 times in a game, as long as they were trying to hit the ball and not looking for a walk. applaud the girls who swing on 3-0 counts (maybe even make it mandatory, probably best pitches they will see all year). it is fine to have that fly ball get past you, as long as you were trying to catch it in the air. after a bit of failing spectacularly, they will start to succeed.
 

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