So, you’ve signed your daughter up for softball for the first time. Now what? Use this guide to prepare your child, find out what to expect and pick up a few tips on making this a rewarding experience for her and you.
Your daughter will need a few basic pieces of equipment for the season. Let’s start with the youth softball glove — it is absolutely essential and typically not provided by the team. Plus, every kid should have their own glove, right? Softball cleats are key, while a softball bat is more optional, as most teams provide bats for the players to share. However, some players may perform better with their own bat, especially if they get into the habit of practicing with it. You may also want to consider getting a bag for your youngster, especially if they’ll be carrying all of these items to and from the field.
Make sure you’re equipped with all of the must-have softball gear with our softball checklist.
GET THEM WARMED UP
Maybe your daughter has some experience with the game, or maybe she has none at all. Either way, take some time to get her warmed up before the first practice of the season. Throw the ball around the backyard, and have her practice fielding ground balls and catching pop-ups. Do a little soft toss, or head to the batting cage (look for indoor cages in your area if the weather is too cold). Every little bit helps.
MEET THE COACHING STAFF
The team’s head coach may organize a parent meeting early on, or you may end up meeting the coaching staff at the first practice. Hopefully, coaches take the time to introduce themselves but, if not, take the initiative and introduce yourself as soon as you can. Tell them a bit about yourself and your daughter’s experience with the game. It’s a nice way to open the lines of communication, and it will show your daughter that you’re interested. You should also inform the coach of any medical conditions or special needs she may have, like certain food allergies, for example.
LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO GET INVOLVED
As mentioned, it’s a good idea to establish a friendly and collaborative rapport with the coaching staff. But remember, it’s not your job to coach the team and there are boundaries you should be mindful not to cross. That said, there should be plenty of opportunities for you to get involved with the team. The team may need another assistant coach, or you may be asked to organize post-game snacks for the kids. More than likely, the team will find some way you can help. But don’t be overbearing. If getting involved is important to you, find a way to do it without stepping on toes.
BEHAVE YOURSELF IN THE STANDS
From the first practice to the last pitch of the season, make sure you’re behaving appropriately when watching from the stands. Sounds like common sense, right? But it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of competition.
You may want to cheer loudly when your child strikes out an opposing player, but the opposing player’s parents may be sitting within earshot. You may be yelling out what you think is harmless encouragement (“Hustle!”), but too much of that may start to irk other parents, the coach and, most importantly, your child. Try to be mindful of yourself and those around you. Cheer hard for her, but don’t go overboard, and try to recognize the accomplishments of others on the field (yes, even on the opposing teams). In a nutshell: be respectful, stay in the stands, don’t yell at players or coaches, and don’t criticize the umpires.
Now, let’s make it a first season she’ll remember forever.