This spring I was the head coach for my 7 year old girls’ softball team (2nd season) and an assistant coach for my son’s baseball team (3rd season). I played softball through college, so know a bit about the sports. At this age, they can’t quite fathom strategy and coaching becomes a challenge in teaching basic skills while keeping their attention.
I’m not going to talk about the coaching, but about some of the interesting contrasts that I observed between these teams of boys and girls, realizing also that they are two years apart. These are just fun observations, and could differ with a different group of children.
Who picks more daisies?Tie! I was just as amazed at having to yell at my son to put down the grass, as to my daughter for picking a flower. Both teams were easily distracted by flowers, birds, dogs, kids, and rocks. One game, two boys swept out the dugout. Another game, half of the girls had disappeared onto a par course structure.
I thought I could stereotype here, but in thinking through my teams, there were just as many kids that listened to the nuance of throwing a ball as there were that thought they knew it. Both groups have very short attention spans. For softball, I had to mix “exciting” positions with “boring” positions, so that they would have an overall fun time for the game.
I think all kids like batting best, so I had to be creative with the more important, yet dry, drills for throwing and catching. I made up fun drills for the girls (“egg hunt”) or yelled commentary about imaginary base runners as the boys threw around the bases. (Is anyone else terrified about the fact that they can throw harder yet they can’t catch? Thank goodness their aim is off).
I think that girls overall might be a little less advanced in skills. This could be for a variety of reasons – most (?) moms never played the sport as it just wasn’t as popular or available. Also, a parent, usually a dad, is more apt to “throw the ball around a little” with a boy, and maybe do this earlier. We had bought my daughter a glove early on, because 1) her brother had one, and 2) that was one of my sports. But even I forgot to go outside to just throw. And, it still amazes (terrifies) me that the little girls throw with that huge softball from the start.
But – they get it. By the end of the season, they all understand the flow of activities that should happen. What’s often funny is that it doesn’t happen as they mean it. The The girls (and boys) will still chase down the ball, throw to first, the first baseman will run to get the ball (that they missed) and run back to step on the base – two minutes after the runner is there.
What did I learn?
Some of you may understand this; feel free to skip. There's an equipment difference. I had to ask one of the dad coaches what to look for in buying a cup for my son. My husband had never played baseball or any contact sport. I had to learn to ask a catcher if he was wearing a cup before heading to the plate. This is not intuitive for me. Glove and hat - yes. The first couple of games were hilarious, watching the boys get used to their new gear and sometimes yelling to a parent for help. It happened for every team and I guess it’s a right of passage or something.Stay tuned for my next post, as the fun didn’t end!