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Get Better Every Damn Day

I love reading books, especially personal development books.
Currently, i’m reading Brian Tracy’s Million Dollar Habits (I highly recommend it!).  It’s not so much a book about making more money but about developing winning habits to become an elite performer in life.
And you you know what? A lot of the principles, concepts and techniques discussed in the book would be just as good for becoming an elite athlete.
I’m through a few chapters. This morning i read about the Kaizen principle. It means constant improvement in Japanese.
It’s the idea that you seek small but constant improvement in every little area. The constant improvement and the accumulation of small gains right and left over time eventually translates into BIG gains and SIGNIFICANT improvements!
This is a very important concept especially for softball players already competing at a decent level and that have been training fairly seriously for many years.
After many years of serious training, it’s hard to make quick improvements in your game.  Instead, to make quantum leaps in performance, it’s about doing all the little things a little better and developing the daily championship habits that will make you much better over time.
If you’re serious about developing into the best softball player possible, you’ve got to invest in yourself and work at constantly improving your skills, your habits and your game – every damn day.
Here’s a small sample of things you can work on:
  • Become better at hitting the drop on the outside corner
  • Make tighter turns when rounding the bases
  • Improve your throwing speed by 1-2 mph
  • Get better jump on the bases
  • Recognize the spin on the ball faster while at the plate
  • Increase bat speed by 3-4 mph
  • Develop performance routine
  • Transition faster from catching to releasing the ball
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Why College Coaches and Athletes Make Bad Youth Softball Coaches

By Coach Marc

When i was a young 22-year-old coach coaching a 16U travel team, i was  invited to help out at a women’s national team regional selection camp as  a guest coach.

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Softball Burnout: A Case Study

By Coach Marc

Yesterday, i got my heart broken. I got an email from the father of Samantha (i changed her name), a 15-year-old young lady I’ve designed personalized softball-specific program for for the better part of the last 3 years.
Samantha started playing softball at age 8. She fell in love with the game and she couldn’t get enough of it. The family got involved in travel ball when she was 9 and did the whole travel ball thing for the past few years (playing well over 100 games per year).  She’s also attended dozens of camps and clinics and done hours and hours of private lessons since started travel ball.
That’s pretty typical for a lot of softball players and their family.
Until a few months ago, she was a very promising softball player. Since she’s only played softball for most of her life, my job as her virtual softball trainer was a) improve her overall athleticism (that she was not getting from playing other sports), b) make up for physical deficiencies through corrective exercises (from the repetitive movement from softball)  and c) help her perform better on the field (run faster, throw harder, hit with more power, and be mentally tougher).
And it worked great. She got stronger, faster and more powerful. She was dominant on the field. The future was bright. She even got interest from several colleges coaches.
She was your softball poster child. So, what happened?  She burned out. BIG TIME.
According to her dad, her HS school season didn’t go well (she underperformed, didn’t feel like going to practices (even skipped some), got into arguments with her coaches, etc.).  Then, travel ball started and it got worse.  She played really poorly, had no motivation, started complaining about everything (having no life, never seeing her friends, practices being too long, long car rides, etc.) and even not looking forward to weekend tournaments. Her dad thought she was only going through a bit of teenage rebellion at that time.
She finally dropped the bomb in early July: “Dad, mom, I’m through with softball. I don’t wanna play anymore”. She said that she didn’t like it anymore, didn’t have fun and didn’t have time to do anything else.  She just quit right there and didn’t finished her season.
Her dad wrote me that initially he thought this would be temporary but it seems that it’s permanent. Even 2 months later, she doesn’t miss the game and doesn’t want anything to do with it.
That’s a classic sports burnout.
This really breaks my heart. You have a young lady doing something she loves that end up hating it because she did too much of it for many years. That’s really sad.
Unfortunately, it’s too common. Most studies show that young athletes that specializes too early are at a much greater risk of sports burnouts, injuries and not reaching their full athletic potential.
Check this out:
For more information about this vital subject, i invite you to read the following articles:
In the mean time, i sent Samantha a Facebook message telling her that i support her, that I am proud of all the work she did the past few years and encouraging her to explore other sports just for the fun of it. She replied: “Yes Coach Marc, i will. Thank you for everything.” (including a nice smiley!).
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What Are You Doing to Help Your Young Players?

By Kris Massaro

There’s a big learning curve among players when they reach 12 to 14 years old. The learning curve happens in more ways than we seem to realize.
I’ve found that girls start to dedicate themselves more to this sport at this age, if they decide this is the journey they decide to take.
They also have this huge growth spurt within that age and suddenly start moving like baby giraffes. I’ve seen some girls grow four inches in a summer and have no idea how to use their body to their advantage. They still move like they are shorter than they really are, their central nervous system is still developing and they are just al over the place. It’s quite a sight.
My job is to help them transition all that growth into skills they can use on the field. There’s times when it’s just best to go back to the basics so they don’t feel overwhelmed. There’s already enough change going on at that age.

In this video we are working on transitioning from power development to speed skills. The jumping ball slam helps her body get used to creating power with the difference in her height. We quickly move into speed work to refine her stride length, acceleration and deceleration. This is a work in progress. When we first started her strides were more like high knee kicks and her balance was all over the place.
Jaci looks way more in control of her movements here. I’ve always felt that we have so many opportunities to develop athletes into awesome players but to also develop them into awesome young ladies…
This may seem far fetched from this drill but it’s not. We create a channel of change that allows us to guide players into being the best they can be at any age, even when they feel uncomfortable with themselves.

Founder of Softball Strong LLC and Arm Pro LLC, Kris Massaro has trained thousands of athletes from every level of play from youth to professional. She has centered her focus on creating an ultimate athlete rather than just a player. Her focus specializes on softball players, creating specific programs for positions to softball speed work offensively and defensively.
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Are You Creating Powerful Player?

By Kris Massaro

Let me preface this by saying there is a difference between creating strength and training to become powerful. If your wondering what the difference is I like to put it this way; when I train an athlete to lift maximum amounts of weight with little repetition I’m creating strength. When I train an athlete to perform multiple lifts quickly I am creating a powerful athlete. So imagine rocky in a boxing ring with Floyd Maryweather. Rocky is strong but Floyd is powerful.

Since softball is a sport of considerable repetition I like players to be powerful. Now how do you create powerful players? I like to keep programs simple and efficient. Medicine ball work is a great way to create so many valuable skills for softball players, especially power.
I took a few different skills and put them together in this drill. This is a low rotating ball slam. This skill starts from a low position, creates a powerful drive up with a hip turn then then the palms slams the ball down and rotates sides.

There is a lot going on here but this a tremendous skill for players. We are working on:

  • Triple flexion in the ankles, knees and hips- great for flexibility
  • Core stability and rotational skill- hitting and throwing power
  • Hip turns
  •  Great for creating a quick “drop step” ( which I call a hip turn, it’s a much faster movement while fielding)
  • Creating power

Remember softball is a powerful sport, keep that in mind when you create you powerful players.

Founder of Softball Strong LLC and Arm Pro LLC, Kris Massaro has trained thousands of athletes from every level of play from youth to professional. She has centered her focus on creating an ultimate athlete rather than just a player. Her focus specializes on softball players, creating specific programs for positions to softball speed work offensively and defensively. 
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The Most Undervalued Exercise in Softball?

By Kris Massero

I love this exercise. I love this exercise so you should love it too right? I wish things were that easy so I’ll tell you why I think it’s an awesome movement. The single leg bent over row has so many great attributes; it strengthens your lats, provides shoulder stabilization, core stability and balance, it also hits the smaller muscle groups like the bicep and deltoid complex.
The reason I really like it is its vital for many skills in softball. This exercise is a pitchers dream exercise. It strengthens most major muscle groups involved in pitching and throwing and also provides balance and core stability for driving off the mound. Why is it an underused exercise? I don’t know, I use it quite often, but it’s not super flashy, it doesn’t involve the newest equipment, and we seem to think that you have to kill a player to make her feel like she got a good workout. But sometimes you’ve just gotta pay attention to the basics. Any type of lat strengthening if beneficial for softball players. Do your players a favor and create programs that are best for their skills on the field.

Founder of Softball Strong LLC and Arm Pro LLC, Kris Massaro has trained thousands of athletes from every level of play from youth to professional. She has centered her focus on creating an ultimate athlete rather than just a player. Her focus specializes on softball players, creating specific programs for positions to softball speed work offensively and defensively.
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Suck it Up Princess – Softball Takes Hard Work and Determination

By Coach Marc

Today’s is labor day.  We’re celebrating work. To most, it’s just a long weekend and a paid holiday or a day off of school. However, it’s a good opportunity to remind passionate young ladies that in order to become elite softball players, they must work hard.

To use an old cliché:  ”The only place you find success before work is in the dictrionary”.Studies (Ericsson, 1993) have shown that it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of work to become an elite performer in any field. Also, the average Olympic gold medallist has spent 11 to 12 years training seriously prior to winning their medal.
There is no shortcut. There is no way around it. You must put in the time, the efforts and make the sacrifices to become an elite softball player.
The percentage of very talented youth softball players making it to the top is relatively low. It’s usually not a lack of talent but something else (lack of motivation, lack of efforts, etc.).  Only the most determined and hardest working (with some talent) players eventually make it.
At the end of the day, you have to want it bad enough. You have to give it all. You have to work relentlessly in the pursuit of your dreams. Nobody will hand them to you. Hard work and determination trumps everything else that matters.
These young ladies must be warriors, not princesses.
Softball Takes Hard Work
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Are You Doing Your Homework?

By Kris Massaro

They say a picture is worth a million words. I hope this picture says a lot to you. This picture could be interpreted as a killer workout, which it was, or it could be caused by a player that didn’t do her homework. She didn’t do her work on her days off from me. I give all my girls goals, homework, things they need to be doing to reach the goals they set. But I’m going to be really honest, those goals can only be accomplished by YOU. I have learned a hard lesson throughout my years training athletes; their goals depend on them. I used to get frustrated when they wouldn’t stick to them but now it’s all or nothing. Goal setting is pretty black and white, either you accomplish them or you don’t. You do the work or you lag behind. Here’s the truth, if you don’t want it bad enough someone else does. Some other girl will be happy to start over you, to run faster than you, be more aggressive than you, hit more consistent than you. You have plenty of girls waiting to take your spot. It’s the hard truth but it’s THE TRUTH. So you can either die during every workout because I’m not going to baby, or you can put your big girl panties on and do the work.. What is it going to be??




Founder of Softball Strong LLC and Arm Pro LLC, Kris Massaro has trained thousands of athletes from every level of play from youth to professional. She has centered her focus on creating an ultimate athlete rather than just a player. Her focus specializes on softball players, creating specific programs for positions to softball speed work offensively and defensively.
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Advanced Stats Analysis: Times-Through-the-Order Penalty in Women’s Softball

By Jon Nachtigal

For professional baseball hitters, the third time is the charm. When a pitcher has gone through the lineup twice in a game, hitters in baseball typically have adjusted to a pitcher’s repertoire and display much better statistics in their third at-bat. Analysts calls this the times-through-the-order penalty (TTOP).

Does this penalty also apply in women’s college softball? I have had the opportunity to look at this with a couple of Division-I coaches in the past and here are the numbers I’ve accumulated so far according to batting average.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th
113/456 (.248) 97/355 (.273) 57/241 (.237) 18/55 (.327)

If there’s a TTOP in college softball, it appears to come with the fourth time through the lineup. After seeing a pitcher three times, batting average in that instance jumps by 90 points.

One question that comes to mind is why TTOP is lower the third time through the lineup in softball? My theory is that if a pitcher has weathered the increased batting performance between the first and the second times through the lineup, then they are having a successful outing and are likely cruising at that point.

This is not to say that every pitcher fares the same, which makes TTOP a statistic worth tracking for pitchers on an individual basis so that coaches can maximize the effectiveness of their staffs.

Jon Nachtigal is a doctoral student studying Sport Administration at the University of New Mexico and is writing his dissertation on the platoon effect in women’s college softball. He posts his research at his site FastpitchAnalytics.com and can be followed on Twitter at @Fastpitch_Stats.

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Don’t Do This in the On-Deck Circle

IMG_0059By Coach Marc

Right now, it’s the best time of the year to watch softball on TV. Tons of game on ESPN.

These young ladies are a pleasure to watch and they’re great role models for the younger generation. Every parent and coach should encourage them to model after these elite ball players.

However, they’re humans. In rare instances, they aren’t always role models. In a game I was watching recently, the coach was making a change (meeting the home plate ump) and you could see the on-deck preparation of the upcoming batter.

I was stunned at how BAD it was. She was going through the motion, wasn’t focused at all. Every swing she was doing was nothing like her regular swing. Overall, a textbook example of what NOT to do in the on-deck circle.

What is the purpose of the on-deck circle? To get ready.

Just like your shouldn’t half assed a warm-up, you shouldn’t half assed your preparation for an at-bat.

In the on-deck circle, especially seconds before you have to step up to the plate, make each swing count. You shouldn’t be swinging just for the sake of swinging.

Each swing should have a specific goal whether it is to work on a technical element, drive the ball in a specific location, time the pitcher or adjust to a specific pitch.

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