Our team won the county softball championship last night, but "The Parent Ball" is my real trophy. As a kid, I only remember playing catch with my dad once. In my 30's, I bought my dad a ball and a glove, and we got to play catch not long before he passed away. I decided if I ever became a coach, I'd make sure I'd create opportunities for parents and their children to spend time and create memories together through softball.
At the beginning of the season, every player, in jersey number order, takes home "the parent ball." The player takes the ball home to share in a game of toss with his/her parent, sibling, guardian or mentor and they each sign the ball before passing it along to the next player on the roster. Every single player got to play catch with their parents this spring, and that is the biggest win for me.
This same activity can be done with older siblings, role models, guardians, or mentors, and can also be used for any sport.
The activity itself, though particularly impactful in helping reinforce a bond between parent and player, can also be utilized as an opportunity for the parent or guardian to ensure their child takes away lessons from sports that will help them be successful in life. Parents can use this time to reinforce resiliency after a tough loss or emphasize a growth mindset if the child is having a particularly difficult time mastering a skill.
If you have other rituals and best practices that you use throughout your season, please comment below with your own rituals!