Avoid These Softball Parent Traps!


Does your parenting style kill your kids motivation?


We spend a lot of time talking about the role that the parent plays in the performance of their kids. As I have said before, no parent purposely hurts their kids, but we are learning more and more about the impact that you  do have on your kids and their sports.


More than 70% of kids quit sports by the age of 13. We all know sports are inherently fun so what is the deal here? So when we see such a high percentage of kids quitting we have to look a little deeper.


There is an old proverb that goes something like this, “No matter how far you have traveled down the wrong road you can always turn back!”. If you fall into any of these three categories, turn back!


The Super Praiser Parent

They are constantly praising their kids, no matter what. They are always talking about how amazing their kid is. They want to be sure that the whole world knows that their kid doesn’t stink! So why is this bad?


Kids who are constantly praised and told they are gifted for things out of their control they are much more likely to struggle with challenges. We play a game loaded with challenges and these kids are likely to internalize these struggles as failures which often lead to quitting.


The Too Important Parent

When we pressure our kids rather than supporting them we are heading down a very dangerous path. There are many things about support and pressure that look the same but there are major differences in the eye of the players. You see the angry faces in the stands, the storming out to the parking lot, the yelling or the dissecting every mistake on the car ride home are all examples of pressure rather than support. 


When we cross the line from support to pressure we are stripping the fun out of the game. Removing the fun removes the motivation. Kids start trying to perform to make their parents happy rather than because they love to play. They also appear to stop trying but the lack of effort is really a fear of failure. No fun, fear of failure, pressure to make your parents happy often leads to players quitting.


The Bribery Parent

Misguided parents often try to motivate their kids through pure bribery. Cash, trophies, ice cream or whatever the currency, the problem is the same. Motivation through external bribery leaves the athlete unfulfilled and lacking real motivation. We often try this form of motivation but really are stealing from them the innate gains they feel from accomplishment for its own sake.


We all want our kids to be great. Our hearts are in the right place but our actions are often misguided. Take a good hard look and be sure you are avoiding the above traps.


About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.