In an age where there is a new travel team starting up every day and parents thinking that playing games and "bad info" practice gets players better, let's understand the following:
On the softball side, if the techincal skills of hitting, throwing and pitching aren't presented by the age of about 13, the chances of that player having any level of success ( beyond the local travel team) is slim to none.
By the time the parents realize playing and winning games and participating in practices that teach the wrong stuff and don't respect the speed of play of real softball, it's too late.
There's a reason why only a small fraction of the giris that play softball, particularly in the Northeast, have an opportunity to play competitive softball in college.
The challenge is that parents and the players don't know the difference between well intended coaches with bad information and the few qualified teachers that realize teaching technical skills is the priority at the 14u and under level. Unfortunately, parents see trophies and winning as important and as a measurement of success. By the time they realize the mistake the " skill window" is closed but the parents have trophies and medals to remind them of the lost years.
What's a parent to do?
Make individual talent and developing hitting, throwing and athleticism the priority at the younger ages ( 10-13).
Sprint and lift your body weight.
Rather than spend money on hotels and family vacations on the softball circuit, enroll your child in a fitness program that understands the nuances of strength training and integrating skill movements at the same time.
Even if they never become an Olympian or a first round baseball draft pick, they'll thank you forever for introducing them to fitness at an early age.
Keep things in perspective. The above average players do things that 95% of the other families aren't doing. If playing for fun and using sports as a social opp is the priority, then team jumping and winning rules.
Don't complain, however, when your child is in high school soon and barely makes a school team and college athletics is now no longer an option.