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Old 04-12-2012, 08:12 PM   #1
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Default How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

It's not really something that I think you can teach. My oldest daughter is in her third year of softball (first year in fastpitch). She's a bit scared of the ball when she's at the plate (understandable since she's always hit off of a machine), but how can I get her to get her head in the game and try to be competitive? The past two scrimmage games, she's had a p!ss poor attitude and sulks around in the field. I think the reason is b/c she's embarrassed at the plate this year. Last year in coach/machine pitch, she was one of the top players on the team, this year she's probably the worst player on the team, mainly b/c of her attitude. Anyone got any hints or tips on how to change this? Any advice is much appreciated.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

Best idea would be to sit her down and ask her what's wrong and if she wants to continue playing. It could be any number of things affecting her concentration. I grew up with three sisters and it's straight up amazing how one seemingly unrelated thing will affect something else in their world.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

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Originally Posted by oooo35980 View Post
Best idea would be to sit her down and ask her what's wrong and if she wants to continue playing. It could be any number of things affecting her concentration. I grew up with three sisters and it's straight up amazing how one seemingly unrelated thing will affect something else in their world.
To be honest, right now she doesn't want to play. I'm not one of those overly agressive fathers who live out their dreams and fantasies through their children's sports, but her not playing is not an option. She needs something other than to watch tv all day, and a team sport will do her good. She loves soccer (but they only play in the Fall), and in the past has loved softball until this year. Over the winter, she hasn't been energetic or athletic, and it's starting to show.
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Old 04-13-2012, 05:05 AM   #4
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

When I made the jump from "little league" to the next step before High school and Legion Ball they moved me and another kid up a level (out of about 75 kids)and we were playing with kids two years older.
Not a big deal in high school Sophomore to Senior but it was a big deal 6th to 8th grade. All of a sudden pitching was faster and I went from an all star to playing a couple innings in right field. I remember not wanting to go to games at all and wanted to quit altogether.

Two things:

1) As you mentioned - quitting is not an option. My mother was most vocal about this and said I signed up and made a committment to a team and I was going whether I liked it or not. She could be a task master but framed this in terms of "my responsibility" had to be fulfilled - NO QUITTING.

2) I don't know if she did this, but I wouldn't be surprised, but one of the best players on the team took an interest. All these kids were much older and in the same classes, but it meant a lot to me for this one good player to take me under his wing and I finally came around. So if you can find a good player (or not) to befriend/help her out it might help. I don't understand the dynamics of girls athletics but in the end it has to be fun and she has to want to be out there with/for someone.

Made me a better player to move up like that, and I would have faltered if my Mom had let me quit. I loved baseball for my entire adolescent life. Got a few calls from some small colleges to play but I had other plans than the schools that called.

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Old 04-13-2012, 05:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

As a person who is always around sports injuries, be careful of saying "it's not an option". I see many "injuries" due to that statement come up every season just so they don't have to play. Kids sometimes think this is the only way not to play is to get injured, and most of the time they aren't but play it up as a linguring condition so they are out of the season.
Around New England there are soccer teams year round, just not part of the school.
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Old 04-13-2012, 05:15 AM   #6
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

To be honest...the only way to make that fear at the plate go away is going to be tough (I played Division 1 College Baseball for Rider University). They put us on our knees so that we could not back away from the plate and pitched to us over and over and over again. Same with keeping our heads down and not backing up on a frozen rope of a ground ball being hit at us; On your knees you have nowhere to go. She needs to build up her confidence at the plate which will in turn boost her confidence and attitude on the field. I don't know one person who sulks around after cracking a double into the gap. If she's scared of the ball she's got to overcome it or its going to eat her up, especially when she's older and the pitchers find out she's scared of an inside corner fastball. Let her get some normal batting practice in first (from a live pitcher...not a machine) and then go from there. If you were anywhere near Tampa I'd volunteer to help out. Good luck!
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:29 AM   #7
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

Random thoughts - but if she hasn't struggled before and now she is ... it's new to her and may be embarrassing to her in front or her friends. Work through positive reinforcement and maybe go back to where she is comfortable with the machine in practice and work her way through you pitching to build her confidence back up.

Of course in the end softball may just not be for her maybe other activities are of course options may be limited in your area.

Best of luck Andy!
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

My suggestion is a combination of things that people ahve already said.

First off, talk to her, and see what's really bothering her. Is it really softball performance that's the issue, or is it something completely unrelated? An issue at school, perhaps? Open the lines of communication and see what the issue truly is.

Secondly, I'm old school, in the belief that letting a child quit something in the middle of it is not good for them. That old saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going comes to my mind. I don't believe in quitting when things are hard. I've always been someone who believes in fighting through things. Pain of a grueling race, excruciating workouts to prepare for races, not quitting until the final horn goes off, even if you're down 30. Effort is more important than results, in my mind. If you don't have to work to do something well, then what will you do when the chips are stacked against you? It's a big life lesson, to me. "I quit" is simply not in my personal vocabulary, and I'm trying to instill that in my kids. If you don't challenge yourself and push through the tough times, the rewards you gain in life will never truly be as sweet as they could be. And remember that in quitting, you're not just letting yourself down, but you're letting down the teammates who are depending on you, as well.
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

Try this: When you make dinner, serve it "Family Style" but only make enough for some of you, things will get competitive awfully quick!
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:21 AM   #10
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Default Re: How do You Create a Competitive Mindset for Your Child?

I taught hundreds of girls to hit over the years, Andy. I had two teams in the same league for lots of years, and I did hitting clinics for the league. The girls always told the story of my first time I hit left handed, and it got me a lot of stroke. They tried for years to get me to go lefty because I can't hit off the left side. Never practiced, had no need. Finally I relented, it was after hitting practice, and I called my shot over the right field fence (I knew I'd pull it and I was just being a smartass.)
One pitch and I jacked it about 100 feet past the fence. I have no earthly clue how it happened, I just got real lucky. The silence was deafening.
Once I had their attention, lol...
The only way I found to get them excited is to show them how to do it, get their form down, and let them start powering the ball around.
It took me a long, long time for my daughters to listen to me. I went so far as to pass them off to my buddy Rick who also coached (with me a lot of times) and was an excellent hitting coach. He didn't have much luck.
What ultimately showed my daughters that I knew what I was talking about was when I taught all the Barr girls how to hit. I had the youngest for years and she could hit if she didn't let her bat drop. She was a lefty so I started her from both sides of the plate when she was about 5 or 6. Her sisters were homerun machines in the waiting, I just made a couple adjustments and they absolutely went insane. They kicked our team's ass soundly that year, too.
But that's what it took for my youngest to listen to me. Her really good friends getting a LOT better by staying after practice and asking me for help. (The Barr girls would wait through our practice just so I'd stay after with them.)
The oldest just got tired of sucking. She was far more hard-headed though. I'd get her hitting, then she'd go back to bad habits. She really didn't have the desire or capacity to think or remember or work, she just wanted the glory. She could turn it on and off with a little help, so she never progressed beyond spotty mediocrity. When she was on, she was on. You could see from her stance when she was finished hitting.
My Rebekah, she can mash the ball. I wish she'd play this year, she's big enough now that she can easily power the ball. Zero fat and a big, thick, strong build she got from both me and her Mom. She runs like she's got a piano up her ass, but ya can't fix that.
Sometimes you just have to let them sulk a bit, but sometimes they'll sulk right till they quit. Try the stealth achievement in front of her face angle and see if she notices. Ask her friends on the team to get in her head, too. Ask your best hitter to work with her (as a personal favor to you because she's so badass, of course).
You'll crack her, brother.
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