How to Separate Sport And Family

How to Separate Sport And Family

“How to Separate Sport and Family” Written By Keri Casas

This may not be something every parent thinks about, but it is completely necessary to understand why and how a separate relationship for sports and home life is important to every female athlete.
 
Why Separate Sport and Family?

As a parent, you want to be involved in your daughter’s life; be supportive, encouraging, and a mentor.  When your female athlete is young, they will listen to you, take your advice, and let you teach them the basic things about the game.  The issue with teaching, or coaching, your daughter is that they tend to grow independent with age.  When female athletes mature into their sport, they want to listen to their coaches or private instructors, those who have played the game.  And even if you played the sport when you were younger, techniques and styles have changed.  Remember that female athletes tend to be a little more defiant towards their mom or dad trying to teach them than a male athlete.  There is nothing wrong with helping your athlete reach their athletic goals, but it is important to take notice when to step down as their “coach”.

Female athletes strive to learn from others than their parents simply because you’re their parent.  If they have the opportunity to learn from a female coach or private instructor, they have a mentor to look up to; someone that they can work with that doesn’t tell them to clean their room or be home by six.  They have your structure and guidance at home, but let them explore other options when it comes to their sport.

I know it is difficult to let someone else coach your daughter, but it is necessary to divide sport and family.  I have seen countless exceptional athletes give up on their dreams of collegiate softball because their parent was too involved in their sport.  I have seen too many dads coach their daughter to a breaking point where the sport was just not fun anymore.  Aside from that, I have seen families torn apart and parents lose their relationships with their daughter because of constant interference with their sport.   As a parent, you don’t want to be the reason why your daughter gave up and quit something they love.  And most of all, you don’ want to lose your daughter.
 
How to Separate Sport and Family?
 
As I mentioned before, you want to be involved in your daughter’s life by being supportive and encouraging.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that; your female athlete needs your support in her athletic endeavors.  So how do you stay supportive without interfering?  Don’t give your advice unless she asks for your advice.

After a game, let your athlete talk and share her thoughts about what happened.  This way, you can listen to your daughter’s feelings and ideas without your feelings and ideas conflicting.  Let your daughter know you are proud of her no matter what and have her back 100%.  Female athletes need a sense of security and they need to be able to feel that they can open up about a game or their team to someone.  This is a perfect role for you as the parent; you want your athlete to be able to talk to you and your athlete wants to be heard knowing you aren’t going to critique her.  A female athlete wants you to be their parent, not a coach.

It may be difficult to step aside as a “parent-coach” because you want the best for your daughter, but realizing that the best for your daughter is for you to watch her from the stands is essential in her athletic growth and your parent-daughter relationship.

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How To Train In The Off Season

How to Train in the Off Season

“How to Train in the Off Season” Written By Keri Casas

The off-season is extremely important for the development of female athletes.  Many parents allow their athletes to take a break from training when their season is over and this could hurt them in the long run.

When athletes are in season, their main focus is on practice, tournaments, and playing almost every weekend.  It is difficult for athletes to really grow and develop individually in this time as their attention is on their team.  When in season, the team must perform as a unit to accomplish their goals, leaving little room for the betterment of an individual athlete.  Sure, female athletes will continue to train, take lessons, and practice throughout a season, but it is to maintain and perform at their skill level consistently.  Making alterations to an athlete in the middle of the season could hinder her playing ability and affect her team performance.

The best time to develop young, female athletes is in the off season.  During this time, athletes have the ability to make changes, develop their skills, and mature without the consequences of it affecting their game.  When a female athlete wants to better their skills, they tend to go backwards first, then with practice, refine their newly-learned skill.

The reason why female athletes’ skills diminish before they get better is simply because they are stubborn.  Once they have learned something, female athletes tend to be set in their ways and refuse to change what is “working”.  When a newly-learned skill is not perfect, they don’t like it, don’t want to do it, and don’t want to change it.  This is WHY we have the off season; to work through both physical and mental issues with female athletes.  Now, I’m not saying it is easier to deal with stubborn, female athletes in the off season, but it does give an instructor or coach more time to work with them individually.  Female athletes need a lot of direction, especially when they do not want to change something, and the off season allows them to work on things without the pressures of playing in a tournament on the weekend.

So how should my female athlete train in the off season?

Get your athlete into private lessons.  The best way to give them the individualized attention is to do so through private instruction.  This allows the athlete to connect with an adult who has played the game, has the time to work with her for an extended period, and wants to help your athlete grow. This does not necessarily mean that your athlete needs to be in lessons every day, every week, but it does help to develop skills more quickly.  Giving the athlete the opportunity to take private lessons allows them to receive quality information that both she and her parent can take home to practice.  Not only will private lessons help, but with it being the off season, the athlete has more time to work on her skills without worrying about school, excessive practices, tournaments, and traveling.  This is their time to develop their skills and show as a better athlete when the season comes around.

I do understand that competitive sports tend to have a minimal off season, and many young athletes are burnt out by the time spring and fall seasons are over.  With many sports only having a 1-2 month break between seasons, it is understandable that parents want their athletes to still enjoy being a child.  With this said, I still do not believe this means “taking a break” from any and all training.  An athlete can definitely tone down their playing time to enjoy being a child, to focus on their school work, and to have time with their friends.

The best way to encourage training with your female athlete that wants to socialize in the off season is to create a daily schedule allowing them time for school, friends, and sport.  Having something written out and displayed for your female athlete gives them structure for a daily routine that will not hinder their athletics or academics.  This is also a great way to show your athlete that all of their time is NOT consumed by sport, but equally shared between their wants and needs.

It is greatly important to understand that the off season is the best time for a female athlete to grow and develop into a successful player.  Giving them instruction and practice time without the pressure of needing to “be ready” by the weekend tournament is vital to their successful development.

Key Points for Training in the Off Season 

1. Female athletes are stubborn and set in their ways.  They need time, patience, and consistent instruction to develop better skills.
 
2. The off season is really “training season”.  An athlete’s skill level will typically remain the same during the season as they are focused on being part of a team rather than an individual.  The off season is best to allow the athlete to focus on themselves.
 
3. Allow your athlete to be a child.  Just because you want them to train in the off season does not mean you have to take away socializing.  Create a daily schedule that allows an athlete to focus on school work, spend time with their friends, and develop as a female athlete.

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How to Motivate Your Daughter to Practice

How to Motivate Your Daughter to Practice By Keri Casas

“How to Motivate Your Daughter to Practice” Written By Keri Casas

You pay money for lessons, you travel to all her practices and games, you pay for her to be on the team, but she won’t practice.  You put in all the time and effort you can, because she says she loves the game and wants to play, but won’t put in the work to get better.  So what do you do?  How do you get your daughter to WANT to practice without nagging her daily? 

First things first. You can NEVER force a girl to do something they don’t want to do.  The more you push, nag, demand, force, etc, the more she will rebel.  She won’t want to practice if you make it an obligation.  The sport is fun, it’s a game to them, and when you make it a job, they won’t want to play anymore.  If you want your female athlete to practice, let them make the decision to practice.  If they really want to get better and really want to play at a high level, they will.

Secondly, let your daughter decide when it’s time to practice.  If it’s your idea to practice, for some unknown reason in adolescent female complexity, they won’t want to practice.  Even if you aren’t nagging or yelling or demanding, they will take it that way.  They want control in their lives and feel they have earned that right to decide what they want to do with their time. 

Third and final point.  If your daughter doesn’t want to do it, don’t let her do it.  If she isn’t willing to work for her goals, then you need to find another source of motivation.  Now I’m not saying that recreational sports require mass amounts of training and dedication, but if they are looking to pursue collegiate goals, they do need to find determination and work to earn glory.  Allowing your daughter to take lesson after lesson, play on the best team only to sit on the bench, and/or traveling all over the United States to play tournaments is just a waste of your time and money.
 Let your daughter earn lessons; let her earn playing time and traveling to big tournaments.  Not only will this better her dedication to the game, but her work ethic, drive, and discipline to work towards her overall goal.  If she just wants to play recreationally to socialize and be a part of a team, that’s fine; but if she really wants to earn the guts and glory, she has to practice. 

If the sport is your daughter’s dream, then she will practice.  She will be self-motivated to work towards her goal.  Even though she doesn’t need you to tell her when to practice, she may need your help.  Take your daughter to lessons, take her out to practice, watch her train, etc.  Even though you don’t need to be her coach, you can be her support system.  The more willing you are to go out to a field or workout with her; the more she will want to do so often.  Don’t let her use you as an excuse to why she can’t practice or go to lessons.  If you are able to help, be there for your daughter.
 
 
Key Points to Motivating your Daughter to Practice:
 
1. You can’t force a female athlete to practice.  The more you push, nag, and yell at them to practice, the less willing they are to do it.  Eventually, they will dislike the sport because it becomes a job rather than a game.
2. Let your daughter decide when it’s time to practice.  She wants it to be HER idea to practice, not yours.
3. If your daughter doesn’t want to do it, don’t let her.  If she wants to practice and play at the next level she will.  Be her support system when you can and be there to help her better herself.

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The Fastpitch Directory is a Hit

Fastpitch Search

The Fastpitch Directory is a Hit Written By Keri Casas

Whether you are new to travel ball or looking for a different team, The Fastpitch Directory is the latest and greatest tool in your Fastpitch softball search!

The NEW Fastpitch Directory is simple, direct, and easy to use in your search for a travel ball team. The site breaks down available teams by state, region, and age group so you aren’t stuck scrolling through unnecessary information. Furthermore, coaches are able to post positions they are looking to fill; making your search even easier to filter!

What is the best part of The Fastpitch Directory? Zero Spam. Unlike many “team posting” forums, the site does not allow for members sell product or tournaments, clinics, businesses, or to talk poorly of other teams, players, or coaches; it deletes any posts disregarding its basic concept.

If you want an easy, stress-free search for the perfect team for your family’s needs, Fastpitch Directory is the way to go! You can find the main page at www.Fastpitch.Directory

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How To Coach The Natural Athlete

How To Coach The Natural Athlete

How to Coach the Natural Athlete Written By Keri Casas

The Natural Athlete is one that conquers most skills with ease.  They are able to perform actions more easily and quickly than some of their peers.  Even though we want female athletes to be mechanically sound, the natural athlete is able to “get the job done” her own way.  This can be a positive factor for your team, but it does not necessarily mean she does not need training.  The Natural Athlete can field, hit, dive, make remarkable plays, but they do not know how they do it.

You may say, “Well, if they can already perform the action, why do they need to know HOW they do it?”  It is important for your female athlete to know how to do it because they need to develop their mental game as well.  If your natural athlete has a poor game and does not perform to their potential, they may become mentally weak because they do not know why the game did not go their way.  This may also cause a domino effect with the rest of their performance and put them into a slump.  When an athlete does not know what they are doing wrong, the potential for them to pull themselves out of a slump is slim.

This is where you come in as a coach.   You need to help your female athlete hone in on her muscle memory and understand how her body works in order for her talents to shine.  If she does not understand how her body performs an action, she must learn it.  As I have stressed in previous posts, keeping instruction simple is the best way to get through to your female athletes; the Natural Athlete is no exception.  Now as a coach, you cannot teach natural talent, but you can teach mechanics.  Being that she does not know what or how to fix something, it is your job to teach her.  If she does not understand how she hits line drives, explain to her how she is doing it.  The more she understands her body’s actions that produce her performance reactions, the better she will consistently be in practice and games.

Lastly, your natural athlete must be treated as an equal to her teammates.  Even if she is the best athlete on your team, you want to maintain team unity.  When you single out your best player, or compare your athletes to her, it makes her teammates feel self-conscious; they already know she is the best player, they don’t need you to make it even more obvious.  Every female athlete seeks acceptance and if you continue to say things like, “Why can’t you field like Taylor does; did you see how Taylor hit that ball”, you are alienating your natural athlete from her peers.  This could cause major emotional problems among your team.  A great way to avoid such problems is to have all your athletes practice the same drills; your Natural Athlete needs drills just as much as the rest of her team and it helps maintain equality.
 
Key Coaching Tips for the Natural Athlete:
 
1. Even though your natural athlete can outperform you, it does not mean you cannot teach her.  You have knowledge of the mental game that she can utilize throughout her performance.
 
2. Teach muscle memory and sound mechanics.  It may be tedious to exaggerate the “little things”, but your athlete will understand her body and performance better with time.

i. Drills for the Natural Athlete:
A. One arm swings-switch between top and bottom hand getting the bat      through the zone.  The goal is to hit a line drive.
B. Bat toss- Use a wiffle ball bat and when she gets to her point of contact, she should throw the bat.  If it goes up the middle, she performed the drill correctly and is throwing her hands at the ball.
C. Soft toss with popcorn kernels- Have your athlete hit popcorn kernels to increase hand-eye coordination and focus.  If they are able to hit popcorn kernels successfully, softballs will look like watermelons to them.
 
3.  Just because she is a natural athlete does not mean she will not make mistakes.  Treat her equally to all of her teammates, even if their playing ability is unequal.

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How To Coach The Scholar Athlete

How to Coach the Scholar Athlete Written By Keri Casas

How to Coach the Scholar Athlete Written By Keri Casas

A scholar athlete is one that is very bright and excels in the classroom; seemingly a better student than athlete.  Many coaches struggle with the scholar athlete simply because they do not understand them.  They do not understand how they think and how they relay instruction to action.  For example, if you tell a scholar athlete to “watch the ball hit the bat,” they will think a handful of things instead of that simple phrase.  They will think, “Where are my hands,” “do I need to swing now,” “how are my feet supposed to look,” “where does my bat make contact”.  They are very mechanical thinkers.  Now, most athletes do not analyze such a simple phrase because it is just that; simple.  When a scholar athlete is told a command, they analyze, dissect, and picture everything that is supposed to happen to “watch the ball hit the bat,” instead of just hitting the ball.

How do you fix this as her coach?  To make things simpler for your scholar athlete, you need to try to think how she thinks.  The more you are in touch with your athlete and understand her way of thinking, the better your communication will be.  When you start to think about the swing and break it down mechanically, you will understand how your scholar athlete comprehends your commands.

How do you understand your scholar athlete’s mentality? Ask questions!  Ask your athlete to break down her swing; watch what she does and have her explain what she is doing.  By doing so, your language with your athlete can connect based on how she interprets parts of her swing.  Now once you and your athlete are on the same page and you have strong lines of communication, teach her the same way you would any other athlete.  Allow your scholar athlete to break down her swing mechanically while she is completing drills and dry swings, but as soon as she faces live pitching or a machine, she needs to be in “go mode”.  Let your athlete know that they are allowed to be mechanically and analytical during drills, but have her swing with a clear mind against a pitcher or machine.

We call this, “hitting like a 5 year old”.  This is not meant to be demeaning, but to literally have your athlete think like a 5 year old would.  5 year olds know the difference between right and wrong, and they know if you tell them to do something, they will directly do it.  If you tell them, “Look at that ball, when it comes to you, swing and hit it,” they will do it.  Because you gave them a simple direction, and nothing else, they are able to accomplish the task because it is the only thing on their mind.  Treating your scholar athletes in a similar fashion will prove to be extremely affective in their performance.  Stick to direct commands, small adjustments, and key words and your athlete will overcome mechanical and analytical thinking in the batter’s box.

 
Key Coaching Tips for the Scholar Athlete
 
1. Do not over teach!  If you give your athlete too many points to focus on, their brain will be on overload!
 
2. Praise small achievements!  Scholar athletes look to be perfect and when they don’t achieve perfection, let them know their small accomplishments are still great!
 
3. Get on her level!  Get to know your scholar athlete and the way she thinks.  The more you understand each other, the better your communication and teaching will work!

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