I was talking to a male coach a while back about coaching his daughter’s softball team. He coached boys baseball for over 20 years, and was having a little bit of difficulty trying to “figure those girls out.”
I laughed as I looked over at the team stretching in a circle. They were giggling and gabbing about school. Some were even chasing each other and playing – not worried at all about the warm up. Oh, and did I mention his daughter was 13? Yes – the tweens – such a great age for a young lady!
I explained to him that the social aspect of a team sport is often more important to some girls than how well they play or even the amount of playing time they receive. Dads are probably shocked at this, while Moms – you probably get it, right? Men are Mars, Women are from Venus. It’s just how we’re built.
The fundamental difference is this (and pardon the grammar): Boys play good to feel good. Girls have to feel good to play good.
For these girls, being on a softball team means immediate friends. Socializing with their team brings out a sense of belonging, camaraderie and support that gives them the confidence to play their heart out on the field.
For parents and coaches, you have to find a balance between allowing them to chit-chat during a warm up while actually getting them stretched and ready for the game. I recommend this: be up front and honest with them. Explain that you’ll allow some talking, but if they get out of hand – silent time. And if that doesn’t work – make them run. That will definitely quiet them down.
Also take into consideration their skill level. For more experienced players on a select travel team, expect more out them – meaning more discipline. For rec teams, let them gab away. They’re out there to have a good time.