We believe that softball is more than a sport - it makes players #AnythingButSoft on and off the field. This season, we'll be sharing tips and insights from leading coaches, nutritionists, and parents alike and talking about how softball makes athletes #AnythingButSoft.
Cindy Bristow is the former Director of USA Softball National Teams, an award-winning college and professional coach, and is also the founder of Softball Excellence. We had the chance to talk to her about her views on coaching softball.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever receive from another coach? What have you learned most from coaches?
Wasn’t from a coach, but from my dad. He was an officer in Air Force. He told me that just because I outrank them (the players), it doesn’t mean I’m more important than them. They salute my rank, but unless I treat them well, they don’t salute me the person. So I keep remembering that. He was my first coach.
What’s going to change about the game in the next 5 years?
Technology is accelerating how all sports are played. Our bat is more productive, and we see more offense; that makes the rules change. All sports have more technology now. GameChanger, what you guys bring to it, allows more awareness of performance. You can isolate more specific elements of performance to identify certain improvement areas. Technology in how we use it (such as equipment), but also how we condition ourselves. It makes the athlete better. Because the people inside are the same.
What do you want all parents of players to know about player development?
They’re trying their best, so make sure you support them. The best thing you
can say to a kid is, “I love to watch you play.” That’s it. If they make a mistake, they’re not trying to do that, so more encouragement and less judgement would really help the kids. Because the kids get so neurotic trying to be perfect for parents who are nipping at them and criticizing them. Just let your kid know, “You know what, I was so proud of you today after you booted that ball and supported your teammates. I was really proud of you today.” I think they need to hear that more.
Do you see a difference in that type of attitude - striving for perfection - in female athletes vs. male athletes?
It’s more of a part of us. We judge ourselves harsher. And we try to be what we think others want us to be. We forget to put ourselves on that list. We’re so aware of making other people happy and proud of us. And we need to put ourselves on that list. We need to be kinder to ourselves.
What’s the key ingredient behind success, in a word?