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Softball Coaching

The Making of a Softball Defending Culture

You can run, hit, throw or even coach; but, if you haven’t studied to the secret of defending, you may never make it in the softball-world beyond just your passion. Learning the defensive softball tips is a golden requirement for killer softball teams. Good defending however is a combination of daily learnt tricks and practices that all players and even the coaches have to learn and make them a part of softball culture. This edition was mainly drawn from Jacque Joseph’s “Defensive Softball Drills” Guide Book. It gives a summary of values to inculcate into the killer softball defending squad.

Philosophy 1: Big innings must be a No-No…

According to Jacque Joseph, big innings are the deadliest demoralizer to a team. They happen when a team allows an opponent team to make three to four runs in a single inning. John Kelly describes the causes of big innings as the trigger events that turns a player’s “I can…” to “I can’t…” In other words, big innings are cold waters to a blazing softball team. As a coach, one should train pitchers to be of high speed in running as well as gain an unstoppable stability and equilibrium when pitching. It is also important for pitchers to learn some 3-Fs (Fearless, fatigueless and focused) in all games. Nevertheless, all coaches ought not to force any tired player back to the game as it could be fatal to the performance.

Philosophy 2: Catching well is mandatory

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5 Common Mistakes Softball Coaches Do

5 Common Mistakes Softball Coaches Do

All parents believe their daughters are all expert players. All players believe they have an able coach. Yet, most coaches often view the exact opposite. Softball coaching is not purely a skill. It is a combination of a skill, a talent, an experience, a passion and an ability to lead. Honestly, if one shows me the performance of a softball team in 10 games, I can easily guess the age and experience of the coach. Softball coaches often grapple with the challenge of balancing between the nurturing of players and the team pressure to triumph in the games. Unlike other aspects of softball, it costs just one simple regular mistake to bring down the good girls. For a good team thus; thou (coach) shall not do the following mistakes.

  1. Become a Game Winning-Hunter

The aim of sporting is not always about the medal and trophies but also about training morality, having fun and inculcating other skills in players. All trained coaches know that. However, at times the pressure to win abounds; the result then becomes to use all means just to train trophies. When this happens, game malpractices are not only pardoned by the coach but are also encouraged when they work to meet the goal of winning. The result of it becomes injuries, suspensions and ultimately cultures immorality that ruins the team at the very peak of its success. All good coaches should learn to embrace one simple rule: obey the rules no matter what happens. Either, he/she should learn to embrace success yet cope with failure.

  1. Training Silent Softball Players
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You’re Coaching More Than Softball

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

Today’s fastpitch softball rant comes after an encounter Sunday with one of my players and her mom. No, it wasn’t a negative experience for me. It was more the effect on the player.

coachingFirst of all, let me tell you that the player in question, Lindsay, is one of the nicest, sweetest girls you’d ever want to meet. Always polite and respectful, always with a smile on her face. And she’s a hard worker in practice — the type that dives for balls others would let drop because, well, it’s only practice.

Anyway, after our Sunday practice I stopped to chat with her and her mom for a minute. Her mom says “I have to ‘tell’ on Lindsay,” and she proceeds to let me know that a college coach had contacted the girl a week prior, by email and phone, and Lindsay still hadn’t returned the call.

Mom was telling me because she knows I have a very good softball relationship with her, and can get her to do things her parents can’t. I, of course, told her how special it is to have a coach you haven’t contacted be interested in you, and made her promise that she would return the call that day. I even followed up with her and her mom via text to make sure it was happening.

I couldn’t understand the reluctance until her mom told me Lindsay had finally broken down and said why she was afraid to call. She was actually worried that the coach would tell her “Oh, that was a mistake, I didn’t mean to contact you” and she would be left feeling hurt and disappointed again.

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The Most Important Player on the Field

The player in the play, the most important player on your team at that moment!

The player in the play, the most important player on your team at that moment!

By Ken Krause

Ok, quick question for all you softball fanatics. Who is the most important player on the field? Is it the pitcher? The catcher? The shortstop with the sure hands and strong arm? The center fielder with wings on her feet? The cleanup hitter who can change a game with one swing?

Take a second to get your answer before I give you mine. Ok, are you ready? The most important player on the field is…

…whoever is in the play at the moment. It could be any of those players I listed above. Or it could be the weakest player on either team.

The reason is our sport is so conditional. In any other sport you can try to manipulate the flow of the game to take advantage of your best player. But in fastpitch softball, you’re kind of stuck.

Think about it. In basketball you can try to work the ball to Lebron James or Tamika Catchings when the game is on the line. In hockey, you want Sidney Crosby to have the puck, or Roberto Luongo in the goal. In football you’re going to hand the ball to Adrian Peterson or try to throw the ball to Calvin Johnson. And you’re preferably going to have Tom Brady or a Manning to do it.

But in softball, you have very little control. If you need a long fly ball and you have your weakest hitter at the plate you’re stuck. Sure, you can pinch hit for her, but odds are if the hitter coming in was that much better she wouldn’t be available to pinch hit. She’d be playing already.

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Softball Performance Tips – 5 Motivational Quotes

servantleadershipcoaching

Guest post by Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

While servant leadership is generally thought of as a business concept, there is no question it also can/should apply to coaching fastpitch softball. If you’re not familiar with it, servant leadership is the idea that these leaders achieve results for their organizations by putting the needs of the people they’re in charge of ahead of themselves. You can learn more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership

Most softball organizations have a mission statement that reflects this type of attitude. But not all of those actually live it. How many times have you seen or heard about coaches of 10U or 12U teams keeping players on the bench for all but a few innings in a tournament because they’re trying to win? How many times have you seen coaches play favorites with certain girls, even the ones who are not the best players on the team, because they just like them better? Or the girl is BFFs with the coach’s daughter?

There are all kinds of scenarios where the idea of taking care of the players — all the players — becomes secondary to the coach running up a great record, or making sure his daughter is on the All-Star team, or that her favorite player is named all-conference. And that’s just wrong.

As a coach you have a number of jobs outside the obvious ones of hitting ground balls, making up lineup cards and choosing tournaments. One of the biggest is to give your players — all your players — the opportunity to succeed and feel good about themselves.

That doesn’t mean the girls get to play wherever they want. But it does mean if someone’s not cut out to be a shortstop that you make sure they understand why, and feel good about the contribution they are making to the team.

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Softball Performance Tips – Building to Become Success

softballteamcoaching

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

You see them all the time — that fastpitch softball team this is always touting its great win-loss record. They place an article in the local newspaper, or you go to check out their website, and there’s a list of tournaments they’ve won and their record is something unbelievable like 64-5. Yet you’ve seen them play, and you know their players, and they just don’t seem that good.

Some coaches do it on purpose, because for them it’s all about the win-loss record. They are known for sandbagging, i.e. playing in tournaments or leagues that are below the caliber of their teams to rack up easy Ws. Or they play to win in games where everyone else is trying to develop their weaker players.

Others do it more accidentally. Sometimes you don’t know how good your team is going to be so you pick tournaments or leagues you think are right, only to find out you’re better than you thought.

Here’s the thing, though. If you’re winning every tournament you enter, you’re probably not challenging your players enough. Winning a tournament should be an accomplishment, not a regular expectation. You want to play the best competition you can handle, so at the end of the day it takes your all to come out on top. Anything else is cheating the players.

How can it be cheating them when it feels so good to win? Because they’re not developing at the level they should. In order to be the best you have to play the best. If you’re playing teams you know you can beat easily it’s like power lifting with light weights. It looks good, but it doesn’t do much to make you stronger.

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Softball Performance Tips – Start with Great Expectations

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

The pitching circle, seen here at ASA Hall of ...

ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, where championships are won (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

To Win, Start with Great Expectations

Everyone has known a fastpitch softball coach or two who never seems to be happy.  Ask him/her how the team is looking and you get a tale of woe that makes you wonder how the coach gets out of bed in the morning.  Then you watch the team and you realize they are a manifestation of the coach’s negative view.

Our sport is hard enough without making it harder on ourselves — player, coach or parent. What’s often needed is a positive mental attitude — in other words, setting out some great expectations for ourselves and the team.

I’m not talking about being unrealistic.  You can’t take a group of marginally interested players and expect them to win ASA Nationals.  Ain’t gonna happen no matter how positive you think. But you can expect your team/kids to play to the level at which they are capable — and have been trained. When you do that, you can also expect them to win most of their games.

Winning and losing both tend to be contagious.  If you step onto the field expecting to win, you stand a better chance than if you expect to lose. And once you win a few and start believing in yourselves, more wins are sure to come.  It becomes a self-feeding mechanism.

The same goes for losing.  When you expect to lose it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  You make the little physical errors and mental mistakes that lead to losses, then figure “That’s what I thought would happen.”

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The Danger of Being Predictable

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

English: A tee ball coach setting the lineup a...

Photo taken by Vinnie Ahuja (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the weekend I saw a very well-played high school playoff game. It was a one-run contest throughout. But in the end, when the losing team needed to score, their coach’s predictability killed them.

This is one of those coaches who believes you always sac bunt a runner from first to second with no outs.  He’d done it two or three times already in that game.  In the top of the seventh the defense was ready and ended up getting the out at second.  So for his trouble the coach gave up an out without gaining anything in return.

In pretty much anything in life, if you know what’s coming, you can better prepare for it. People in coastal areas, for instance, pay close attention to hurricane warnings and board up their windows when one is coming.

People in snowy areas heed winter storm warnings (usually) and try to avoid being on the roads if they don’t have to. Businesses close early too.

So it goes for softball.  Take the change-up, for example, the whole point of the change-up is the element of surprise.  That’s its greatest strength because, theoretically, it’s easy to hit if you know it’s coming.

If a pitcher always throws a change-up with an 0-2 count it shouldn’t take hitters long to start sitting on it. Heck, my oldest daughter Stefanie figured that out for herself at the age of 14 when facing a pitcher her teammates couldn’t hit.  She saw that 0-2 change-up get a few of them, so she just conceded the first couple of BBs and waited on the change.

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How to Turn Green Athletes Into Elite Performers

By Coach Marc

This season, I took on a talented but very young and inexperienced 18U team. Only 2 out of 13 players are 18U. The rest is 16U.

In other words, I’ve got a very green squad at the 18U level.

Just like most coaches, I’m competitive. I like to win. And in today’s society, we all want results. Right now.

Being used to winning a lot of games every year and being very competitive, this is forcing to readjust how I coach this summer.

As much as I’d love to win more game and be more competitive, I can’t force learning process and the gaining of experience. Nature cannot be ”forced” or ”coerced” into going faster. Learning and developing high-level skills takes time. You’ve got to let time do its job.

Of course, proper coaching and effective training methods may speed things up a bit but truth is, only hours of repetitions and game experience will give my young ladies the level of skills mastery and game experience needed to be top performers at that level.

Gaining experience takes time. You can’t buy it. You can’t teach it. You can’t train it. You’ve got to live it.

Developing a high level athlete is like growing crop or taking care of a plant. You’ve got to feed it the right nutrients, nurture it and give it time to mature to its ”full potential”.

As much as I’d like for things to do faster, I constantly have to remind myself of ”the process” and the recipe to ”grow” elite performers.

So what is the recipe to grow elite performers?

As I coach, I have to….

  • Show my athletes I genuinely care
  • Be a confidence-builder, not a confidence-destroyer
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Softball Performance Tips – Players’ Eyes

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softballplayerseyesAs a private instructor, I often think that in addition to listing the areas of the game I coach I ought to include the term “amateur psychiatrist” to the mix.  I can’t tell you how many times, especially this year, I’ve had to stand there and get a player’s head back on straight after some coach shook her confidence.

The more I do it, though, the more I’m convinced that the issue isn’t that the coach is mean, or an idiot, or whatever.  It’s that he/she doesn’t see his/her actions or hear his/her words the way the players do.

There’s a reason for that too.  As we get older and move into positions of authority, we still remember ourselves as kids, or players or junior members of an organization.  When we say things or do things it’s not from the perspective of the Great and Powerful Oz. It’s from the perspective of the person we used to be.

Unfortunately, that’s not how our players see us.  To them we are the Great and Powerful Oz, with the ability to determine who gets the prize (playing time, all-conference, all-star team, etc.) and who gets shut out.  To them, our word is gospel.

So if, in a fit of frustration, you tell a player that she did awful and ought to think about whether she wants to play softball or not, it’s not the motivational statement we intended it to be.  Instead, it’s a real question that can send a vulnerable teen or pre-teen or small child into a vortex of self-doubt.

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