Maybe If I Push A Little More….

Many years ago I told another fisherman how much our older daughter loved to fish as a 5-year-old. He was a little jealous. As a tournament fisherman he pushed hard to get his kids to fish at the tournament level, but they showed no interest. Here is the difference.

At one time we enjoyed fishing some tournaments but, as parents, the focus shifted to making sure the girls had fun, fishing for more abundant species, slowing down, and when it was boring we returned to camp for marshmallows over the campfire. Even today our grown daughters love a weekend at the lake. The difference was the focus on fun, having some success, and enjoying it together.

What does this have to do with softball? Too often we see parents missing the most important element, then wondering why their daughters are not succeeding at the level they want to see. You cannot skip the important part, the fun and excitement, and they must discover that within themselves.

One of our Certified Instructors asked me about a kid who has so much potential. I explained that she simply does not have that fire and excitement. The Instructor said, “Dad can provide her with lessons, drive her all over the place, but if kids don’t have it in their heart, they won’t go far.”

She went on to say, “I’m learning how much character and motivation are huge factors, even more so than natural athletic talent. I feel that, the more the parents provide all things for kids, they don’t know how to work hard for something on their own.” The satisfaction and the joy are not there.

That brought back so many memories? My own father loved the outdoors, but due to health issues resulting from war-time service, he was limited in his ability to take me hunting, fishing, or camping. But, during those days that he felt well enough to go, he was patient, encouraging, and cherished every moment. Later I realized that he pushed himself because he saw how much his little boy loved it.

When my schedule permits, I cannot wait to strap on a backpack, hit the trail, and enjoy a couple of days in the mountains. Nothing beats having a fishing rod in hand, unless it might be sitting in a tree stand at sunrise.

It all started because a dad saw the love of something in his son, gave him foundations, and let him learn to love it on his own in his own way. As Instructors, our results are limited by these factors. Bring us a kid who is excited, can’t wait to get started, and loves it in her own way. Great things can happen. It is okay to challenge her, but pushing her in directions she is not already excited about going rarely has a good ending.