Friday, March 6, 2015

Your Daughter isn’t Good Enough to Play

Recently at a church service, the preacher stated, “Fathers, I’m talking to you right now.  Your kid will not turn pro!”  Now he said this because all too often, we (me included) would miss his Sunday message due to a softball or baseball tournament.  However, although he was telling us we should not be missing church for just any reason, he wasn’t lying about our kids turning pro.  The odds of your son or daughter turning pro are next to impossible.  In a post, “North Texas Select Softball Teams”, there are detail facts about the likelihood of your daughter earning a college scholarship in softball.  Once you read how slim the chances of your daughter even making it to college on an athletic scholarship, continue to read this blog to fully understand how right my preacher was about your kids making a profession out of the sport they play.

Let’s start out with men’s baseball.  The odds of playing professional in the MLB are the highest among all sports.  According to the NCAA, 11.6% of college players play professionally, and .6% of high school players jumped directly to the pros.  There were 806 total draftees out of a pool of 471,025 high school players and 31,264 collegiate baseball players.  Now, you may be thinking this 11.6% of collegiate players make it to the Major League squad, but these numbers include the hundreds of minor league and independent league teams.

The most popular sport in Texas is football.  Of the 1,108,441 high school players and 67,887 college players each year, there are only 255 draftees.  That is a mere 1.7% of college players and .08% of high school players who have the ability to play on Sunday in front of millions.

Men’s basketball only has 48 draftees each year out of 545,844 high school players and 17,500 college players for a 1.2% chance out of college and .03% chance out of high school.

Women’s basketball is not any better with .09% of college players playing professionally and .03% of high school athletes.

Soccer has 1% of college players making it to the pro and .04% of high school players.

Now, since this blog sits in a softball forum, let’s talk about the odds of your daughter playing this great sport at any level.

Everyone who knows anything about softball has heard of Jennie Finch.  Ms. Finch played for the USA Gold Medal Team in 2004 and helped the United States bring home the Silver in 2008 Olympic Games.  She was a star and one of the best collegiate softball pitchers for the University of Arizona from 1999 to 2002 with a career ERA of 1.08 and striking out over 1000 softball batters.  In 2000, Finch set an NCAA record with a perfect season capped with the National Championship as well as being named MVP for the series.  Jennie Finch was drafted by the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) team, Chicago Bandits in 2005 where she pitched until 2010.  Now, Finch has made a career out of softball earning over $500,000 a year in endorsements but she is the exception to reality.

As of today, the USA National Team is considered the top team in the World for softball.  Currently there are 18 women who wear the uniform for the 2015 USA Softball Women’s National Team.  So out of 30,874 active participants at the college level that gives your daughter a whopping .000583% chance of being showcased as one of the very best on the diamond.

So let’s say your daughter is shooting for the best and comes up a little short.  That’s not a bad thing right?  What are the odds of your daughter playing college softball?  In 2014, there were 1679 colleges that sponsored varsity Softball teams.  There are 295 NCAA I, 284 NCAA II, 416 NCAA III, 193 NAIA, 357 NJCAA and 134 other divisions to meet this number of schools.  The average team size is 18 players.  Now, here is the jarring numbers that will show you just how good you have to be to play at the college level.  There are around 371,891 women high school softball players.  That means there is an 8.3% chance of a high school player competing in college.  So now pick your favorite college team.  Your daughter has less than a .0000134% chance of playing for them give or take a couple of thousands of a percentage points.

Now let’s look at the chances of your daughter playing in high school.  It’s pretty simple to figure out.  Take the number of high school players on the Varsity Team.  Let’s say it is 15 to be safe.  Now add up how many girls are playing Select Softball, Rec Softball in the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade in your town.  Each year, the seniors will graduate.  However, the 8th graders will be competing for a varsity spot as a freshman.   If they don’t make it on varsity they will be placed on the junior varsity team and compete for a spot the next year (and so on).  However, now the 7th graders will be coming up as well in 2 years.  If the 8th graders (who are now 10th graders) improve- they will be on the team along with the girls who already made the team as a freshman.  Don’t forget- there were already freshman, sophomores and juniors who were already on the team so there are only so many spots to have.

This blog is not meant to discourage your daughter from playing softball.  It is meant for you as a parent to put into perspective the opportunity and how thankful you should be to have a daughter who plays this exciting sport.  This blog is intended for you to enhance her experience and help give her memories that will last a lifetime.  In addition, if she has the talent to continue to play, this should serve you as a warning not to mess up her chances.

The sad thing that the above statistics don’t show are this…There are great girls who have above average talent who do not continue to progress making the top teams otherwise they would qualify for.  Why?

It’s because of you!  Yes, you the parents!  Your kid doesn’t suck!  You do!

So, now I have lost half of my readers because of the statement hit below the belt.  Yes, it was meant to be impactful; however, when we look at it closely, we will find out how true it is.

As an assistant coach for one of the top 04 select travel softball teams in Texas, I get to be around a great softball family with great parents.  However, any coach in youth sports will tell you horror stories about parents who ruin opportunities for their daughter (or son in football, baseball, basketball soccer- you enter the sport and it fits).

Recently, a girl tried out for our team.  She was a good player.  She was a good pitcher.  She had a sweet personality.  We wanted her to play for our team.  (Those of you who know softball is that good pitchers are very hard to come by, and become a huge commodity in the world of select softball.  It doesn’t mean they are the most important person on the team, but they are very valued as they can be the difference maker of a good team versus a great team because they are involved in every play of the game.)  So the story goes, she came to a tryout.  She performed well enough to catch all of the coaches’ attention.  It wasn’t anything spectacular, but her performance was good enough to become a solid option at multiple positions on the team including one of the pitchers.

Here is where it went south of great.  Before the girl was offered an opportunity to comeback for another tryout, the dad stated he wanted his daughter to pitch every other game.  He wanted her to play the infield if she wasn’t on the mound.  He wanted her to bat in one of the first four spots.

As you can imagine, we didn’t add her to our squad.  Now, she didn’t have a problem with finding another team, but she missed out on an opportunity to be with this team.  Yes, I am biased.  I feel we have some of the most dynamic players with great personalities and strong values.  They are a very talented group of girls who excel in many things in addition to softball.  The parents are a pleasure to be around and in every sense, it is a great family atmosphere playing a fun game.

My point is, however, she will hit a road block in her progression one day because of her father.  This was 10U softball.  There are hundreds of teams in North Texas and she is sure to find one that will meet her father’s playing time and position criteria for his daughter.  However, as you have read above, the odds of playing at a high level become harder and harder the older you get.  High School Varsity coaches have a strong talent pool.  College coaches have a stronger talent pool.  Each level, the talent pool is better and plentiful.  It is hard enough for talented players to make these teams.  Now add the parents into the mix and it can be disastrous for your child to play a great game!

It has everything to do with you.

So now that we have established this blog isn’t about the odds of your daughter playing for college or even at a higher level, let’s talk about some disturbing trends among parents and their relationships with their children.  Let’s see if you fall into any of these categories or have made some of these mistakes.

Hopefully it isn’t too late for you, and maybe we can keep your daughter from hating you by the time she is 16!

Many parents over value the talent of their child, cannot separate the emotions they feel during the game with that of their child’s, find it necessary to inject their opinions and/or suggestions for the team because the pay money to be part of the organization, and severely hinder and stunt their child’s progress and passion for the sport they play.

So why and what are the reasons parents tend to screw up?  Check out to see if you are one of these parents:

Parents Favorite Sport

Your child will only go as far as they love what they do.  This not only applies to sports but life in general.  Support what they love and are interested in, not what you think they should be involved in.  You had a childhood already so now let your kid have theirs.  Allow them to play multiple sports and find the one they truly love.

Glory Day Star

You weren't that good of a player (i.e. high school sports). Most parents have an idea that they excelled in the sport they competed in high school.  However, hindsight is 20/20.  In the grand scheme of things you really weren't that great so stop telling your kid you were.  They don't need to live up to your lies.

Backstage Mom (or Dad)

Leave your child alone during competition.  Your child is out on the field competing and does not need any added pressure from you telling them what they should or should not do.  Save it for after the game, and if it is not constructive, keep it to yourself.  Your insights on their play are usually driven by emotion and passion and typically come off as confrontational.  They have enough pressure as it is, they don't need more from you.

Wanna be Bench Coach

Let the coaches’ coach.  Did you sign up to coach?  Did you volunteer your time away from your family to help others?  If not, you don't have a say.  Yes, you may have coached Rec league or "daddy ball" but in no way does that qualify you to give suggestions as far as lineup, playing time, and direction of team.  If you don't like it, leave.    You don't have to stay and have every right to go somewhere else.  If that's how you feel, then leave rather than be a distraction to the team?  (And typically this element comes from parents whose child is the least talented).

Stress Bucket

Let your child enjoy the process.  Sports are a never ending process of learning, whether it be social or fundamental.  There's an inherent value to the social and fundamental construct of sports.  These early years of athletics can be unbelievably valuable for your child's social abilities in the future.  Stop stressing out over every detail.  Enjoy the successes and learn from the failures.  How your child reacts to both will pave the attitude they have in the future.

Colin Young, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 9th round of the 1999 MLB June Amateur Draft, was the inspiration for this blog and details these suggestions and descriptions of parents who help their children fail in sports.

Young states, “People often ask what my parents' role was in my climb to professional baseball.  I tell those people that my parents were supportive of my love of baseball and gave me every opportunity to succeed.  My father was a football coach and knew nothing of baseball and my mother did not play sports in high school.  Whether I played a great game or terrible game, my parents always treated me with support and love.  They never "pushed" me in any way and anything that I accomplished was because of my own desires and their support. They had complete trust in my coaches and I was very lucky to have great ones along the way.  So, when you look at your child and you see a major league baseball player or professional football player, understand that they may think of themselves as something very very different.  It's not about you, and if it is, it's probably the reason your kid sucks.  Parents: don't be the reason for your kid's failures, they're under enough pressure already.”

For more information about the 04 Texas Travelers contact Coach Kyle Bennett at 972.679.7702 or follow The Texas Travelers on Facebook.  The Texas Travelers are a 10 U 2004 team that plays ASA competitive softball.  To follow particular players, games, practices or see any other information about the North Texas Select Softball team visit: 04 Texas Travelers News Site.

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