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Softball Tips – Who Says a Team is Elite?

certified

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

In one of the forums at Discuss Fastpitch there is an ongoing discussion about the credentials (or lack of same) of people who call themselves instructors. Essentially, it talks about how anyone who wants to can call themselves a hitting, pitching, catching, throwing, whatever instructor. There is no National Board of Certification or other set of qualifications you have to pass before hanging out the ol’ shingle.

The same can be said for many of the so-called “Elite” or “Exposure” teams that are cropping up all over the country.

It’s understandable of course. Calling yourself Elite is a great marketing tool. After all, what parent doesn’t want their daughter to be on an Elite team, one that promises to bring in the best of the best from around the area and play at “the highest levels of competition?”

Yet it takes more than appending the name Elite to your team name to make you an Elite team. And that’s where it often falls down.

Yes, there are legitimate Elite teams out there. They’re not hard to recgonize. When they throw, they’re crisp and precise. When they get to the plate their hitters are disciplined as well as skilled. They just look like they know what they’re doing, even when they’re walking in and out of the dugout.

But many of the teams that carry the name aren’t like that. They have the same caliber of players as many of the non-Elite teams they’re playing, and their skill levels aren’t any better. In reality, they’re Elite in name only — and probably in the amount of money they’re charging to be on that team.

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Softball Tips – How Important is Fun?

softball-playersBy Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

There’s No Having Fun Here”

The other day I heard a story that just made my skin crawl. The incident in question occurred during tryouts for a local team.

The newly installed coach gathered the high school age girls together and announced, “If any of you are here for fun, you’re in the wrong place.”

Forgive me, but at what point did playing softball cease to be about having fun? When did winning a softball game, tournament or even national championship become so all-fired important that fun is no longer a part of the equation?

Every study that’s ever been done about youth sports shows that the #1 reason kids sign up for a sport is to have fun. Those same studies also show that the number #1 reason they quit playing is because the game is no longer fun for them.

There’s nothing wrong with taking the game seriously and working hard to do your best. There’s nothing wrong with drilling hard and practicing (or playing) all-out. Those are good things. But working hard and having don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

One of my favorite baseball movies is Mr. Baseball, starring Tom Selleck. In it, Selleck is a MLB player who is struggling, and ultimately gets traded to a team in Japan, where he runs into the typical tough but wise manager.

In many ways Selleck’s character is an overgrown kid, but he has a great perspective on one important aspect. When the Japanese team is all uptight because of the manager, he points out  that “Baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun.”

He also points out that no one starts into baseball because they want to work. They want to play. That’s why it’s called “playing” baseball.

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Softball Tips – Finding the Right Team

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

choosing a softball teamYes, it’s that time of the year again. The fastpitch softball summer is season is coming to a close, and with it players (and their parents) are starting to look at next year.

For some, the decision will be easy. They like their team, they like their coaches, they want to stay right where they are. For others, it’s not quite as clear-cut.

If you’re in the former group, congratulations. Glad to hear it, although this article probably won’t be of much interest to you. If you’re in the other group, though, you have a lot to think about in the next few weeks (or days).

Where you go likely will depend on your situation and what you want out of the game. If you’re a starter but just unhappy with the coaching, or with some of your teammates, or some other general aspect of the team, you may just be looking for a change of scenery. But if you feel like you haven’t been getting a fair opportunity, you may have to make some tough decisions.

One of the toughest is to leave a team that consistently has a winning record. Winning is fun, no question about it. As Nuke Laloosh would say, it’s more fun than losing. There’s a chance, especially if you move to a team that is just forming, that you will suffer more losses than you’re used to.

So at that point you have to make a decision — would I rather play and maybe lose, or sit and win? It sounds like a no-brainer but it’s really not. Our society is very win-oriented, and losing more than you’re used to can get to you after a while. You have to be strong to accept the idea that playing is better than not playing, no matter what the outcome.

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