Saturday, September 17, 2011

Strike One.

Ugh. You guys. I am not cut out for this.

Today was an absolutely miserable day out at the softball diamonds. It was our first day of games, and it was one of the chilliest days that we've had so far. There was a light rain on and off, and the later it got in the day, the colder it got.

That's really irrelevant. What's relevant is that we lost both games. The first game was pretty close, I'm not bummed about that one. We did the best we could. If we'd have had the home team advantage, we probably would have won. I felt pretty good about our team during this game. We were definitely the underdog, we had less players and, from what I could tell, less experience, but we held our own.

The second game, though. The second game sent me home in a cloud of self-doubt and sadness. We'd started off so well, and I felt my hopes rising - this team was about on par with our skill level, maybe we'd have a good chance of winning. It all went downhill in the second inning and we never recovered. So much of the game depends so heavily on the ability of the pitcher and catcher at this age. It's an unfair amount of pressure on those girls, and it sucks for the girls playing in the other spots, because it feels like if you're not pitching or catching, you're not doing anything. Unfortunately, if you get someone in one of those spots that's having an off day or simply not at a competitive skill level, you will bury yourself as the other team walks the bases and racks up points.

I probably should have pulled my second-inning pitcher. It's something I've never had the heart to do, and I've never done it. I want them to have a chance. I know the message it can send when you yank a girl from her spot: I suck. I'm not doing well. At this age, they're too young to understand that it's not personal. There are sometimes executive decisions that need to be made for the good of the team. They still cry when they get hit by pitches. They cry when they lose games. I'm not used to this. I'm not used to this age group.

I'm also not used to this particular level of in-between competitiveness. In the summer league I coach, it's more about skills and practice, and with the older girls, it's easier to be better. It's easier to fall in sync and to shape a good team together. But here? I know I have some more freedom to make those tougher calls. I don't have to make sure everyone gets a chance to play everywhere. But I hate being the bad guy. I know that I'm taking my experiences as a player and letting them cloud my ability to coach. I remember having miserable experiences with some coaches, which soured me on the game. I almost quit once when I was young. I don't want to be the coach that makes the game Not Fun Anymore.

I have no idea where to start here. I feel vastly under qualified, both in this league and in this age group. I'm stumbling blindly and I'm failing miserably.

Ughhhhhhhh I don't know. I don't know what to do. I got an assistant coach all of like three days ago, so I'm hoping that having an ally will help. I'm hoping she sees the things I'm missing. I'm hoping that things get better.

Otherwise, it's going to be a long season. And I am going to beat myself up for it long after it's over.


The Phoenix Rising said...

Swing away.... Does that help? nah, I didn't think so either. Look at it this way. Iowa came back today against Pittsburgh.

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian said...

I'm sorry, that does suck. I have those same memories of coaches that ended up killing a game I love, and I know I'd be crippled by the desire not to be that coach either.

I have nothing for you but Internet hugs.

Megs said...

What Ashley said.

I think its a good sign that you are thinking this way, though. I had so many coaches who didn't hesitate to put winning ahead of the players and didn't think twice about it. I always loved the ones like you the most. Even if it meant I got pulled during games, I appreciated that they cared.

Tori said...

Maybe if you lay it out for them from the beginning? Like, "okay, you guys are going to take turns pitching." And then in the second inning, when someone starts struggling, you can just say, "okay, you're still doing great, but now it's someone else's turn." That might help soften the blow so it doesn't feel as much like they're being pulled from the game as they are letting someone else take a turn in that position.