Monday, June 01, 2009

Passing the torch

I love playing softball. I started playing ball when I was in first grade and played all the way through my high school senior year. I've played on a work team here and there, but it was never the same as playing in high school.

Yesterday my cousin's daughter asked me to help her practice sliding. She's 11 and has only been playing softball for 2 years. I was so excited to show her because 1) I miss playing ball and 2) that she asked me in the first place.

We drove to a softball field near her house. This was also one of the fields I played at when I was her age. Nostalgia took over.

I was wearing a jean skirt and sandals, but that didn't stop me from showing her how it was done. I can still do it after so many years. Being in a skirt didn't change anything. But to me, sliding was so natural, I had to do it a few times so I could think about what my body was actually doing so I could explain it correctly.

I tried several things. First she just tried to copy what I did. That didn't work. Her legs and hips weren't going in the right direction and if she kept it up she would only get hurt. Then I had her concentrate on how she would position her left leg under her right. I had her just lay on the ground in the final 'slide position' so she can feel how her body should wind up. That didn't work so well either. Finally, I had her fall backwards into my arms simulating the moment that she slid into the base. She was supposed to practice bring her left leg up and shifting her hips at the same time. Nope.

I was frustrated because I didn't know what else to do have the sliding motion click into place for her. She was getting frustrated with herself, too. After about 45 minutes, it was getting late and she was getting tired. And I didn't want her to get hurt.

So we called it a night. I was bummed because she didn't get it. But I was happy that she didn't give up on herself and was genuinely interested in practicing so she could get it right. I hope she finds her groove and that she learns to love the sport as much as I do.

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