No matter how many times I say “It is not about the play time”, parents will only see their kid’s situation thru the lenses of how many innings their kids play. On some level I understand, I mean, who signs their child up to not play. I have said many times that I can understand it on an intellectual level, but in reality, I have been blessed that my daughters were always one of the best players on the team, so they always played. However, there were many times my kids joined a new team and started on the bottom of the depth chart and had to work their way up. Eventually they were able to earn the play time that they deserved.
One of the things that social media has brought to youth sport is the need to post videos and statistics of what little Suzy did at last weekend’s Scarecrow Invitational tournament in Gridley, which lends itself to another reason why play time becomes so important for the softball crazed dad.
Hey look, I get it, we are all proud of our kids for the hard work they put into their sport. I love when I get the opportunity to share with people how well my youngest daughter did in her career at a Pac 12 school finishing with a high career batting average and being top ten all time in stolen bases while only starting her last year in a half or how my middle daughter set or owns several season and career records at a major division one school. Heck, my oldest daughter was one of the most accomplished prep track athletes in our area before injuries cut her career short. She still was able to receive her offer and attend UCLA. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely proud of what they accomplished and this at the highest level of their sport, but I am more proud of the people they have become. Maybe it’s my own thing, but I would prefer to share with people how all three of my daughters are good people, serve their community, and are living the lives they dreamed of when they were young adolescents.
What I know for sure is that because of the work kids have to do to get more playing time helps them in the long run. If I could help parents understand one thing it would be to sit back and enjoy the ride because it is just a sport. If little Suzy isn’t playing as much as she wants to have her work harder. If she wonders what she needs to do to get more playing time have her talk to the coach. But most of all be absolutely honest with her and yourself. If she had a bad day still tell her what she did well, let her know you are proud of her effort, work with her on what she needs to improve on, but don’t set her up for failure by being less than honest about her performance especially if you are measuring her against another kid who plays her position.
I remind parents that as the coach I get to see the players in every situation at practices and in games. We get to hear from the players about what they really believe about how they did and what they need to work on. I always say that kids, especially young women are pretty honest with themselves on whether or not they should play in front of someone else. It doesn’t take away from the fact that they want to play, but deep down they know if they should be playing. When a player ask why they didn’t play more I always ask them to tell me who should they have played in front of?
It really is not about the play time!