I get a lot of questions from parents about CONFIDENCE.
We live in an impatient world, where we struggle to wait 10 seconds for a google page to open, or 2 minutes for food in the microwave feels like a year. I am here to tell you, that CONFIDENCE, takes time.
Your daughter is made up of experiences. Those experiences have either helped or hurt the way she looks at the world. In doing so, she has also learned how to cope with her emotions, which include her attitude in private and in public. The biggest experience is that she will start to become a young woman, from toddler to middle school-er, from to tween to teen... and every parent struggles watching their young daughter changing right in front of them. I am here to tell you... DO NOT FEAR THIS CHANGE. Embrace it, enjoy it, and promote a positive sense of self worth. Confidence starts from within. Confidence starts by knowing that she is prepared to handle everything you throw at her (literally) & giving her the opportunity to get it right the ninth time after she fails eight. There isn't one straight path to gaining confidence because everyone has different experiences... but there is a foundation you can build & that starts with you. The softball mom. The softball dad. The softball grandma grandpa sister brother aunt uncle... the family dog.... everyone will go on this journey with your child. It's about EMBRACING the experience.
I hear a lot of softball parents tell me that their daughter struggles with confidence. She has a bad inning and the rest is downhill. She throws a bad change-up and is afraid to throw it the rest of the game. She hit a batter and now she cant throw it anywhere near the plate. She threw six straight balls and the coach pulled her. GUESS WHAT... I HAVE EXPERIENCED ALL OF THESE THINGS (like many other successful athletes). MORE IMPORTANTLY: I experienced all of these things before I was old enough to understand what confidence was.
-I have had a bad inning and was too embarrassed to continue. So my next inning was “garbage”.
-My change up used to roll on the floor or go SO HIGH in the air... my coach stopped calling it because it was a “waste”.
-I hit a lot of people (a lot...of people) and was afraid to TRY hard for the rest of the game.
-I used to walk 2 people and get pulled so fast you'd think I was THE FLASH going from the mound to the dugout in less than .2 seconds.
Good news? There's a new way to look at all of these "experiences". There's a new way to spin these and make them a confidence booster. There's always a silver lining... you just have to try really hard to see it and teach your child to see it too.
I am a FIRM believer in asking questions. A MILLION questions gets you A MILLION thoughts... whether they're right or wrong, they're thoughts. Our job as TEACHERS, MENTORS, PARENTS, GUIDES... whomever you may be, our job is to teach them that it‘a GREAT that they're thinking, now here's the right answer.
-Bad innings happen. A lot. But you're getting the OPPORTUNITY to throw another inning, even if it is bad... well, at least now you know what you need to get better at. Ask your child: What started the bad inning? Were you moody? Were you negative? Was it uncontrollable (defensive errors)? Was is controllable (walks)? Were you embarrassed? Were you worried about me (the parent) being angry? AFTER they answer you... give them alternatives. Give them one thing to work on next time. 1% better.
-Afraid to throw a change-up because it‘s ineffective? Too bad, throw it anyways. That is one of the BEST ways to learn is to throw it in a game no matter how many times it is bad. Coach won't call the change up? Have a discussion, and explain that giving her the confidence to throw it no matter where it is, is more important than your 0-2 count. Still afraid to throw it? Practice pitching to a target in the backyard and reward them for their efforts.
-Hitting a lot of people? Don't worry... it's just a bruise and your friend isn't mad at you. Ask your child: What were you thinking about when you hit her? Were you rushed? Hitting multiple people a game? Start focusing at home on fake "stand-ins". Buckets are a great tool for faking people... and they don't cry when you hit them.
-Walking people: afraid to walk someone because the coach will pull you? Explain to your child that a GOOD hitter, will get on 3 out of 10 times. The chance that she hits that FAT one you pipe on a 3-0, 3-1, 3-2 count... is 30%. That means that your little pitcher... still gets them out 70% of the time!!! (confidence? yes!) Hit a corner, force her to swing and hit a ground ball/pop up! Once the ball is hit, you have done your job and it is up to your defense. As they get older, into the 14u-16u-18u, that mentality has to change. At that point, they should be confident enough, to hit a corner instead of piping it.
Confidence doesn't just show up in a bright shiny shirt holding a poster that says "Here I am!"
It shows up with its big girl pants and work boots and asks what the job is.
The experiences that your child has, use those to your advantage and give her what she needs to be a good human, and a good athlete. Physical talents only get them so far. Once you have given them the confidence they need to have productive conversations with themselves... you can work on KEEPING the confidence.
There is a difference between confident and cocky, remember to always be humble & kind (thanks Tim McGraw). Keeping your daughters confidence is not always an easy task, but you can always be there to support her and remind her to stick to the "routine"
Routine: WHAT YOU DID RIGHT followed by WHAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE BETTER
Notice: What you did WRONG is not in the verbage? When trying to instill confidence and keep her drive, you want to stay away from negative words. Some kids don't mind the negative words, you just have to know whats best for your child. This "routine" will stay with them through life and teach them to be positive thinkers.
I still try to work on this myself, in my home life, with my husband, and my athletic life... I was raised by two extremely competitive parents. My dad would catch me and if I threw it wrong he'd literally say "NOPE" and I'd try again. At 16, anger... was my motivation. Irritation... made me try to throw hard. If I threw a ball in the dirt, every now & then... he'd throw it back to me in the dirt. If I overthrew him, he'd make me go get it. That worked for me, and he knew that it fired me up but also made me mad at him haha! My mom was softer, had a more gentle approach but still said "nope, you have to do it this way"... It DOES NOT work for a lot of people. I am just explaining to you, that knowing your child helps their development.
I hope that this helps you give your daughter the confidence she needs to become a successful HUMAN being & a pretty good pitcher.