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Softball Tips – Practice Makes Permanent

By  Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softballtips-practicepermanentMany of you have probably heard the expression “Practice doesn’t make perfect — it makes permanent.” Yet how often have you really thought about that in the context of your own work?

I know I see that in action all the time. Walking through a facility or along a field I will see teams diligently running drills or working on techniques that essentially have them practicing to lose. Even though they may have best of intentions.

I see it with hitting a lot. I like hitting stations as much as the next coach, but they can do as much harm as good if they’re not set up or supervised properly.

Now, if you have older players whom you’ve worked with for awhile you can probably have them work the stations without someone being with them every minute. But for younger players it often doesn’t work as well.

I will see young players putting no effort into hitting off a tee because they think it’s for babies. So they just sort of knock the ball off instead of working on elements of their swings.

Soft toss is another one that can be problematic. Players will toss arcing balls to one another, which creates all sorts of problems in the swing that will have to corrected later.

But it’s not just hitting. You can see it in throwing, when players just push or lob the ball to one another while chattering away. You see it in the way they catch or field, just going through the motions instead of working on technique. They figure as long as they get the ball, or get it to wherever it needs to go next, they’ve done their jobs. But then, when they really need the better skills, those skills aren’t there — because they haven’t developed them.

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Softball Tips – How to Practice When There’s Nowhere to Practice

indoor-softball-practice-tips

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

While the winter weather isn’t too bad yet, we’re reaching that point in the year where those of us in the North have to think about moving indoors. As you probably know, that creates an entirely new dilemma for practicing.

During the warmer months (and the months where it isn’t dark by 5:00 PM), you can pretty much wander out to any available ballfield and get some practice time in. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a ballfield. Just about any old patch of grass or dirt will do in a pinch.

But once outdoors is taken out of the picture, things get a lot tougher. Sure, you can rent cage time, but that can get expensive if you’re serious about it. You can try to find an open gym, but their managers often are unhappy about a hard ball being hit, thrown or pitched in the general vicinity of others playing basketball, volleyball or other sports.

Moving indoors also takes more schedule coordination. Not only do coach/parent and player/daughter have to be available at the same time, that time has to coincide with the times a cage or gym are available.

But the good news is you don’t need to go through all of that, at least not all the time. Because there is plenty a player can do within her own home that will help her improve her skills.

For example, a pitcher can work on her motion using a rolled-up pair of socks to throw against any wall mom or dad says is ok. Or she can shadow-pitch — going through the motion without anything in her hand.

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Softball Pitching – The Case for the Curve and the Screw

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softball-pitchingSooner or later on the Discuss Fastpitch Forum you know that the discussion on pitching will turn to which pitches to learn. We’re going to take the 12 year olds who allegedly have 10 pitches out of the discussion for the time being and instead focus on the more basic pitches.

If you listen to the old-timers (and those taught by the old-timers), a softball pitcher only needs three pitches — the rise, drop and change. They say it’s not good to throw a curve or screw because they are flat pitches and too easy to hit.

Yet increasingly in the Womens College World Series you see fewer rises and drops, and a lot more curves and screws. How can that be?

I think a part of it depends on your definition of a curve and screw, and part of it depends on what you’ve seen before. It’s possible both sides of the debate are right within their frame of reference.

A curve ball that comes in on the center of the plate and breaks to the outside corner, without much of an angle up or down, probably will be hit pretty hard. Yet a curve ball that starts on the middle of the plate, or just to the outside of middle and then breaks off the plate is a great pitch. Even if it stays flat. The idea is to get a hitter to chase a pitch that breaks out of the zone. If she does get the bat on it, the odds are it will be hit foul. More likely, though, that it will be a swing and miss if you do it right.

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Softball Pitching – How to Increase Speed By Staying Loose

By Coach Marc

This blog post on softball pitching and how to increase pitching speed  was inspired from reading the post on the same topic from my friend and colleague Ken Krause on his blog:

There’s Strong, Then There’s…

You see, it’s a natural reaction for an athlete who want to generate more force or power to ”flex” their muscles in hope of generating more speed or power.

While that makes sense to think that contracting more muscles will equate to more force or speed, it is actually the wrong approach.

You have to understand that a tensed muscle is actually a slow muscle.  In other words, a muscle under tension is slower, not faster. It’s just a physiological principle.

I blogged about this principle a while back when I was talking about how staying loose is important to increase hitting power.

The same concept applies to pitching. For the best examples of that, you just have to observe some of the best pitchers in the world – a lot of them are doing some kind of pre-pitch routine or movement to help them stay loose. Lisa Fernandez was famous for her hoping on the mound a little with the goal of staying loose and tension-free.

They do this because they know that remaining loose and relax is the key to generating more speed and power.

You can also see evidence of this in other sports whether be in tennis or sprinting where athletes are trying to stay loose right before getting back into the action with the goal of being explosive and able to generate maximum speed and power.

So, if you want to generate more pitching speed, you have to learn how to stay loose while being explosive at the same time. It’s subtle fine line.

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Softball Hitting and Softball Pitching – Learning from The Best

By Coach Marc

As you know, I was in Portland, Oregon this past weekend learning from great instructors about hitting and pitching.

There are many theories out there as to what are the best hitting and pitching techniques.

A lot of what was taught this weekend were more principles  and concepts rather than specific “techniques”.

Also, a lot of what was presented came from answering a  simple question:

“What do the best hitters and pitchers have in common that  makes them  so good and dominant?”

The concepts and principles that were  presented came from answering that simple question.

Observing and studying carefully how the best hitters hit and how the best pitchers pitch is how you come up with a set of concepts and principles that are shared by the best in the wold.

I know it’s a very simple – yet we tend to forget about that sometimes and make up our own theory.

If you want to be like the best – you have to learn from them and emulate what they do.

Start observing what the best athletes do and start emulating them – chances are you will be going in the right direction.

 

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