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softball performance tips

Softball Performance Tips – Beware of Confirmation Bias


By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

Last year just for fun I downloaded a book onto my old smartphone that had nothing to do with fastpitch softball. While I quickly discovered that reading a book on a smartphone is not an easy task for someone of my age, the book itself was quite interesting.

It was called “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” and its purpose was to give people the tools they need to decide if global warming is real and what (if anything) should be done about it. What the author, a fifth grade science teacher, was trying to do was give readers the tools to make their own decisions.

In the very lengthy discussion leading into the tools, the author talked about something called “confirmation bias.” The basic principle of confirmation bias is that when you are trying to prove a point, you will look for evidence that proves your point and ignore evidence that goes against it.

Sound familiar? It’s something most of us do naturally and sub-consciously. We have certain beliefs about the game of fastpitch softball and the skills required to play it, and we don’t want anyone telling us different. So if someone challenges us, we immediately look for “evidence” to support our position, usually in the form of video.

Here’s the problem. If you have sufficient time, energy and access to video you can prove or disprove just about anything. If common sense says you should do X, by golly there’s going to be someone who can come up with a video of a high-level player doing Y instead.

Some do it because they actually believe in Y. Some do it just because they like to “prove” other people are wrong. And some do it so they don’t have to consider changing their long-held beliefs.

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Softball Performance Tips – The Pre-Game Pep Talk

softball-coaching-pep-talk

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

If the movies have taught us anything, it’s the importance of the pre-game pep talk. Whether it’s Knute Rockne telling the boys to win one for the Gipper (played by former President Ronald Reagan, by the way, in his second most famous role) or Herb Brooks telling the US Olympic hockey team they could beat the Soviet Union in 1980, we see that the big, inspirational speech is the key to victory.

Or is it? That kind of rah-rah speech may work in football or hockey, where you pretty much have to get yourself amped up to a fever pitch in order to take and dish out the hits, but in fastpitch softball it may not be such a good idea.

Softball is a game of precision more than adrenaline. Getting over-amped can cause you to rush, break down your mechanics and actually under-perform. It can cause your heart to race and your breathing to get more rapid, taking away the calm sports psychologists recommend for most precision activities.

But the real point is, as a player, you shouldn’t need a pre-game speech to get you ready to play. If you feel you do, you might want to re-think your choice of activities.

The opportunity to play fastpitch softball itself ought to be all the incentive you need to play. Sure, there may be days when you’re not 100 percent, especially as a long season grinds on. But once you hit the field and the umpire calls “play ball!” hopefully the excitement will return.

I know for me as a baseball player I never needed anyone to get me “up.” I loved the game and couldn’t wait to hit the field. If any coach tried to do the Big Speech I probably would’ve wondered why he was wasting time when there was a game to play.

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Softball Performance Tips – Surviving the Tryout Season

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softball-tryoutsYes, it’s hard to believe we’re already in the thick of tryout season. All the comfort of knowing what the days ahead will look like is gone, replaced by that feeling in the pit of your stomach over all the uncertainty that will be dominating your thoughts for the next week or two.

That feeling applies to both players and coaches, by the way. For the players it’s obvious, especially if you’re trying out for a new team.

Suddenly you’re being judged and evaluated by a group of strangers who don’t know your track record. You have to perform right here, right now if you want to be selected. It can be very nerve-wracking, which doesn’t help your performance any.

Yet it can also be stressful for coaches. You can look at all the skills you want, but it doesn’t answer how a player will perform in a game situation, what type of teammate she will be, how high maintenance her parents will be, what kind of game knowledge she has, etc.

In both cases it can be tough because you’re presumably making a long-term decision. Choose correctly and you’re in good shape. Choose poorly and it could make for a very miserable year.

The big key to survival is actually the same strategy for success in a game — focus on the process instead of the result. You can drive yourself crazy worrying about what might happen, especially when it involves things beyond your control. Instead, you want to focus on the things you can control.

As a player, focus on this event, right now, and no others. If you’re fielding ground balls, focus on your process – see it in, get your hands on it and make the throw. For hitting, see ball/hit ball. If you miss, let it go immediately and focus on your next opportunity.

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Softball Performance Tips – Truth About Pre-Game Meals

By Jeff Cavaliere

pre-game mealIt’s important to understand that while yes, the choice you make for your pre-game meal can have a huge impact on your ability to perform just hours later, it’s just as important to look at the contribution the last few days’ worth of eating can have on the game you’ll play today.

Pre-game meals are usually given such focused attention because it is usually the last thing you put into your body before taking the field.

However, if we were to look at weight training in the same way, we’d mistakenly think that the rebound that you just grabbed was a direct result of the last set of squats you did in the workout the day before the game.

Do you think that’s true? Of course it’s not. The fact that you were able to out-play three or four other players had more to do with the consistent efforts and hours you’ve been putting in in the weight room for the last eight months to gradually build up your lower body strength and power with hundreds of sets of squats…not to mention lunges, step-ups, and plyometrics.

You see? So, in much the same way, while your pre-game meal is significant and important, how you’ve eaten and fueled your body on a consistent basis leading up to that day has just as much, if not more of an impact on how much energy you’ll have in today’s game.

Consistently good eating habits provide your muscles with several days’ worth of glycogen building nutrients. It’s much easier for your muscles to absorb and store this key energy source when it’s delivered with steady doses of usable glucose as opposed to flooded with it from some pre-workout or pre-game gimmicky “Super Carbo Charger Sugar Shock Extreme” drink. Eating right for days leading up to your game is much more effective than short-term attempts to “do the right thing” last minute.

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