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How to Keep From Striking Out as a Softball Parent

posted by Softball Performance Blog
Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 5:19pm EDT

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 How to Keep From Striking Out as a Softball Parent

How to Keep From Striking Out as a Softball Parent

Guest Post by Janis Meredith

janis-meredith-sportsHitting that bright yellow softball is not as easy as it looks. Any softball player will tell you that there is more to hitting that just swinging away. With proper mechanics, a player can improve her batting average and hopefully minimize strike-outs.

Being a good sports parent is not as easy as it looks either. It takes more than just cheering on the sidelines. There are certain “mechanics” that can help you avoid striking out as a sports parent.

My husband, who’s coached softball for 10 years, gives his players 3 tips to help them when they step up to bat, tips that he hopes will help them get on base and not strike out.

Those same tips can also help you avoid sports parenting strike-outs.

First, he tells his girls, “Have a ritual to relax”.

In sports, the mental game is huge.
Most great athletes have a ritual that helps them focus. A tennis player may adjust racquet strings in between shots even though the strings don’t need adjusting. A football kicker may take a deep breath and stretch his neck side to side before the snap. A batter might swing a heavy bat. A softball hitter may tap the base.

Rituals provide a sense of stability and help us stay focused on our goals.

Do you have “rituals” to help you relax as a sports parent? Give it a try. It might help you relax and focus on what is important. Bring a water bottle, sit in the same location, chew on sunflower seeds. Say a prayer. Familiar habits that will help you relax.
When we relax, we are less likely to get uptight about bad calls, coaching issues, and our child’s performance.

Next, he instructs them, “Say yes, yes,  yes”.

The Stanford softball coach tells his hitters to think, “yes, yes, yes.” As they watch the ball leave the pitcher’s hand, they should assume that every ball is a strike.

In life, that’s called assuming the best or thinking positive.

I’m not very good at thinking positive. I’m often too quick to think the worst and cloak my negativity with the excuse that “I’m being realistic.”

Have you ever dreaded going to your kid’s game because you expected the worst to happen, after the last game when things didn’t go well? How often are you quick to point out mistakes made by the team instead of the good stuff? Do you ever start a season with a negative opinion of the coach before you’ve given him a chance?

It’s time for sports parents to start saying yes, yes, yes and be positive-thinking examples for our kids. It could be contagious.

Last, he tells them, “Be ready to adjust”.

Even as hitters are thinking yes, they are prepared to say no. In the 1.4 seconds it takes for the softball to travel from the pitcher’s hand to home plate, they must watch the ball until the last instant and be ready to not swing if it is a ball. That’s major mind adjustment.

In the same way that athletes learn to quickly adjust during a game, sports parents can also learn to adjust, because everything won’t always go the way you think it should.

Maybe the coach asked your child to play a new position this year, when you were counting on the old one. Perhaps your kid is not getting the playing time you were hoping for. Or at the last minute, your child decides they don’t want to play the sport you love to watch them play.

One of our parenting jobs is learning to adjust to the curve balls of life, and at the same time helping our kids grow stronger as they adjust.

Sports provides an excellent opportunity for our kids and us to grow in character. And when your child ends the season victorious in character, you will know that you not only avoided striking out, you got yourself a sports parenting home run.

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