Tips for Parents – Help your Camper Improve their Softball Game at Home
Advice from the Revolution Softball Camp Team
Parents play an important role when inspiring sports involvement in young children. In addition to driving your kids to and from practices, games, and travel leagues, parents can bolster a child’s confidence throughout their sport careers.
Parent support has been linked to several factors related to sports participation such as child enjoyment and enthusiasm, autonomy, and self-perception of sport skill.*
If you’re a softball parent, watching your child develop a love of the sport is truly exciting. Get in the game by learning tools for better play and resources, and watch your daughter continue to improve her game.
The right softball equipment is fundamental to effective play. Shop for softball equipment that is specifically designed for young female players, keeping size, age, and position in mind. Your daughter may admire a new bat or glove that a teammate brings to the field, but if equipment is not appropriate for her height, weight, body size, strength, or hitting style, you may be wasting a lot of time and money.
Do not buy equipment with the expectation of better results. Hard work and lots of practice ultimately reap more rewards than a new glove, bat, or cleat. If you’ve purchased the right foundational equipment, and your child is still struggling, invest in a quality softball camp for a range of skill levels.
Sports teach kids how to be a good winners and losers. However, as a parent, its your feedback that your child will hear and absorb first after a good or bad day on the field. Remember that the whole point of playing softball is to have FUN. If you notice that your daughter continually gets frustrated and upset after playing, it’s time to find a solution or find another pastime. When your child isn’t interested in improving her softball skills, it’s probably time to find a sport or hobby better suited to her interests.
If your child is on a team, maintain a positive attitude during games and practices. Cheer on and praise the whole team, not just the kids you know. Pay attention when attending games, and avoid distractions like texts and phone calls. Your positivity and enthusiasm will be contagious. Sideline cheering is always encouraged, but please avoid sideline coaching. Softball coaches are often volunteering their time, and doing their best to support and direct the kids on the team. Yelling out directions puts your young player on edge, and ends up confusing how they play on the field.
When you’re in charge of transporting kids to practice, games or camp, arrive at least 15 minutes early. Many coaches consider this “on time.” If you are late and speeding into the parking lot just as practice is beginning, you are going to stress your young athlete out — as well as yourself. Sometimes events come up that prevent punctuality, but make a family effort to stay on schedule.
Tell your daughter how much you love to watch her play after every game and every practice. Avoid discussing errors on the ride home unless she initiates the conversation. Your daughter is mostly likely exhausted and already hyper-aware of the mistakes she made. Just let her know how much you enjoyed watching her play.
Encourage Softball Practice at Home
If your daughter wants to improve her softball skills, practicing at home should be part of her regular routine. Help her make healthy habits and encourage goal setting. Help her stick to a routine by putting a little time aside each week to throw and hit balls. Sometimes 10-15 minutes per day is all you need to reinforce and build skills.
Try these drills during your weekly home practice routines:
Blind Fielding (for 2 or more people)
- Find a park or open space where you can throw or hit long balls.
- Step about 20 yards from each other, and ask your daughter to turn her back on you.
- Throw or hit the softball in the air, and shout “Go!”
- Your daughter will then turn her back towards you to locate and catch the ball before it hits the ground
Repeat this drill 3-4 times to practice consistent timing and effective technique.
- Find an open space free of obstructions.
- Set up 2 bases, or items to represent bases, approximately 30 feet apart.
- Encourage your player to wear a batting helmet and cleats.
- Position your daughter at one base, and ask her to imagine the pitcher is on the mound ready to deliver a pitch
- When you call out “Go!” your daughter must take two shuffle steps, then pivot on her right foot to run to the other base.
- Upon approaching the other base, have your daughter take stutter steps to control her stop without sliding, or over-running the base.
- Your softball player should work to keep her center of gravity low to the ground and avoid hopping when taking the shuffle steps.
This fun backyard game works to improve throwing accuracy and form. This game is a great way to enhance a simple game of catch, and 2 or more players may participate.
- Find an open space free of obstructions.
- Put at least 3 yards between each thrower and catcher.
- The first player will throw a ball to a catcher. The following point system will be applied for various throws:
- 3 points are awarded to the thrower who successfully sends a two-handed target in the chest.
- 2 points are awarded when the throw is a little outside of the two-hand target, and the catcher has to move a little to the left or right.
- 1 point is awarded when the throw is a well outside of the two-hand target, and the other player has to move more than 1 or 2 steps to the left or right to catch the ball.
- If the throw completely misses the mark, no points are given.
- The first person to get a score of 21 wins!
At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.
Jane D Hull, former Governor of Arizona
Competitive sports can get intense. It’s your daily job to prevent injury and teach problem solving skills; however, when it comes to sports, sometimes it’s just best to sit back, be supportive, and let your daughter play ball. When your daughter gets frustrated, angry or discouraged, take a breath with her to help gain some perspective. Your time, money, patience, and encouragement will reap rewards every time your daughter makes a run, catches a grounder, or celebrates with teammates after a big win.
What tools do you recommend for supporting young softball players?
* Bonavolontà V, Cataldi S, Latino F, Carvutto R, De Candia M, Mastrorilli G, Messina G, Patti A, Fischetti F. The Role of Parental Involvement in Youth Sport Experience: Perceived and Desired Behavior by Male Soccer Players. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 17;18(16):8698. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168698. PMID: 34444446; PMCID: PMC8391271.