Providing Feedback to Your Child

Nov. 13, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)
Last month, a Responsible Sports Parentwrote to our panel of experts to ask:

“My 10-year old daughter plays softball and loves to play and go to the team practices. She is in good programs with good coaches, but she doesn't want to practice between team practices and work on things the coaches have given her to improve on. When I do get her to practice at home and point out that she isn't doing what her coaches have taught her, we end up arguing.

Am I expecting too much from a 10 year old? When she does practice, should I just let her practice the wrong way, as long as she is practicing, and let her coaches worry about getting her to improve?

- Danny, a concerned parent

We asked two of our experts to weigh in. Ken Eriksen - USA Softball Women's National Team head coach, had this to say:

Let her come to you. The passion for the game needs to be hers. Also, she is ten. Time to be a kid….there are other important things in a ten year olds life that we adults have forgotten. Especially us men.

And Tina Syer, Chief Impact Officer from Positive Coaching Alliance answered:

Dear Danny,

The main goal at this age is to keep her enjoying her sports experience, so she’ll want to continue playing. I once had the opportunity to hear Peyton Manning talk about growing up with Archie Manning (legendary NFL quarterback) as his dad. He said that Archie never asked him to go outside to throw the ball around, and he never offered Peyton any advice on his quarterbacking… unless Payton asked for it. If Peyton asked his dad to head outside to throw, Archie was right on it. If Peyton asked for feedback after a game, Archie was all over it. The key here was that it was initiated by Peyton.

If your daughter does ask you to throw the ball around with her, a good technique to use while you practice is “ask rather than tell.” This might sound like, “Tell me what your coaches told you about your form when fielding a ground ball.” If she does not remember you might “ask for permission” to tell her: “Do you want me to tell you what I think I heard them say?” The tough part here is that if she says, “No,” you have to honor this and not continue on with the instruction, as she’s made it clear she’s not open to it at this time. What I’ve seen happen often in this case is that five minutes later she’ll ask you what you think they said about fielding ground balls.

Your daughter is lucky to have a dad who is this involved with her sports experience, and I know that with some small tweaks, this could be a lot more enjoyable for both of you.

Are you a coach or parent who has a youth softball question you’d like to pose to our panel of experts? Visit us on Facebook and ask your question today! We regularly post answers on and each month we’ll feature one question here at USA Softball.

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