No Time for Breaks?
You and your daughter may have heard this advice from a coach, player or another parent, "If you want to be the best you can be, you've got to practice and put the time in. There's no time for breaks." The problem with this well-intentioned pearl of wisdom is that it is partially true. Your daughter will need to practice a lot to be her best. However, without breaks, she risks becoming burned out or injured.
If you don't believe me, try swinging the bat 100 times off the tee every night of the week and let me know how that works out for you.
"By age 13, 70 percent of these kids quit playing. Why? It stopped being fun." There are other factors that contribute to this such as when the girls know they're not very good at the game, don't like the game or grow tired of their parents pushing them. But, softball has become a year-round sport even in cold-weather states with the growth of indoor facilities available today. 20 years ago when softball season ended, it didn't begin again until the next season. Girls got mental and physical breaks from the game. Today there are leagues and tournaments year-round.
With year-round softball comes the risk of overuse injuries. The increases in knee injuries among girls has been publicized a lot in the last few years, but for softball players the potential for arm, shoulder and back injuries have also increased. They've gone from throwing/pitching and hitting 3 months per year to all year long. I personally know many girls who have experienced back injuries from excessive pitching. Their bodies need breaks from throwing and swinging the bat. If you don't believe me, try swinging the bat 100 times off the tee every night of the week and let me know how that works out for you.
They need to give their minds a break from the game.
What Should You Do?
If your daughter plays softball year round as my youngest daughter did, then you have to plan on when they should take their breaks - and to make them do so if need be. When school ball ends they sometimes have the chance to take a break for up to a couple weeks. If their travel ball begins immediately after school ball is over, then at least cut out the practices/workouts during the week. After travel ball ends, make them take a break. Other times that should be set aside for breaks are Thanksgiving week, spring break and the 2 week Christmas holiday.
A break is more than just putting the glove on the shelf for a week or two. It's replacing the times they would normally be working out with other activities like going to the movies, hanging with friends, sleep-overs, etc. They need to give their minds a break from the game. When they return to their workout routine, they'll be refreshed, energetic and ready to work on the game the love. I have witnessed the benefits of these breaks firsthand and am completely conviced they are absolutely necessary.