Guest post by Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog
Traditionally, the holidays are a time for family. So what better time to take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities than during this time when things usually slow down a bit? Especially when it comes to being a parent/coach.
Most people who coach start out for the right reasons. Usually a team their daughter is on needs a coach, the coach has some knowledge and wants to give back to the game, and the parents wants to spend more quality time with his/her daughter.
Somewhere along the way, though, competitive natures come out and even for those with the best intentions it becomes a little less about spending time with your daughter and more about racking up the W’s. That’s when the trouble starts.
Suddenly your daughter isn’t your daughter anymore. She’s the kid who threw a pitch down the middle on an 0-2 count with the winning run on second. Or she’s the kid who dropped the easy fly ball, booted the grounder, or popped up with runners in scoring position.
At that point, just when she needs a hug and a Lifesaver candy, she instead gets the dagger eyes from the coach/parent who expected her to do better in that tough situation. “She’s a better player than that,” you think. “She knew the game was on the line and she choked. Arrrgggghhh!”
Yes, that’s true. She is, and she did. She knows it. She definitely knows it. And what she needs is a parent to tell her everything will be ok, the sun will come up tomorrow and the world will keep on spinning. But if you’re too busy being the Coach, you may forget to tell her that.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: kids are not short adults. (It’s not an original statement to me, by the way, but I think it’s an apt description.) They react to adversity differently than we do. And they react to approval, or lack of it, differently than we do too. It’s important to keep that in mind, especially since they may hear both their coach and their parent saying something to them in the same breath.
It’s not just about games, either. While you may have dreams of your daughter playing in the WCWS, her dreams for her career may be different. You have to remember it’s her career and react appropriately.
I remember one warm, sunny Easter Sunday suggesting to my oldest daughter that we go out and pitch after breakfast. Her reaction: “It’s Easter!” To her it was a holiday, and that meant it was a no-softball zone. I knew she could use the practice, and that it would help her get better, which meant her team (which I coached) would win more.
But she was having none of it. It’s not that she didn’t want to win, but it wasn’t as all-consuming to her as it was to me. At that point I had to step back and be a parent who supports his daughter in HER quest instead of basing her life on MY priorities.
In the post-holiday glow, do a little self-evaluation. If you are coaching your own daughter (or your son for that matter, because it’s the same on that side), ask yourself whether you’re treating your child as your child or as a player. Give it some real thought. Then ask your daughter. The answer may surprise you.
Your daughter will be your player for only a few short years, but she’ll be your daughter for your whole life. Keep that in mind and you’ll find the whole relationship goes a lot more smoothly.
Anyway, that’s the way I see it. Happy Holidays from all of us here at SoftballPerformance.com
Anyone else have feelings about this?