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Quick Softball Tip: Do You Know Where You’re Headed?

softballgoals

By Stacie Mahoe

Most softball players and coaches dedicate quite of bit of time to softball each week. In fact, you may even fall into the category of spending a “ton” of time on softball when you’re in season. However, it’s surprising how often players or coaches train, compete, and spend hours of their time on this game with only the vague purpose of having fun or wanting to “get better.”  It almost boggles my mind how much time and energy some commit to softball without really giving much thought to exactly what they want to accomplish this season or even over the course of the next 2-3 seasons.

Are you one of those people? Think about it. If I asked you right now to tell me where you want to be softball-wise at the end of this season, what would you tell me? How specific would your answer be? Do you even know what your first and biggest goal would be? If you only accomplished ONE thing, what would you want it to be? Is it a hitting goal or a defensive goal? Is it a speed and agility goal or softball skills goal? Is it more of a personal goal or one for the team you’re on?

If you’re not sure and can’t answer any of those questions with any certainty in less than 30 seconds, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone and I’m going to help you do something about that right now.

Is it really that important to do all that thinking and know all that stuff?
Before we get into the details of all that, let’s talk about why it’s so important.

You probably wouldn’t get in your car and start driving without first knowing where you want to go.  Right? 
If you would, then go ahead and stop reading right here. 😉

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Softball Hitting Mechanics Aren’t Enough

By Stacie Mahoe

Every week (if not almost every day), we receive mail from customers, visitors, and newsletter subscribers. Today I want to take a moment to share one of these inquiries with you.

This question (a good one) came from a softball dad.

From the Softball Performance Mail Bag…

softballvision

Coach, it seems to me that a lot of emphasis is put on batting mechanics, which I think is good. It is important, but I do not hear or see anyone talking about eye hand coordination. The way I see it, a player can have the best mechanics, but if she can’t put the bat where the ball is consistently, I think a lot of time and money is not being spent wisely. I would like know what you think about this. Is there something I’m missing? I can speak from personal experience that using the little soft rubber 1 inch balls used with a thin bat like a “lightning Rod” seems to work pretty good for my daughter. Thanks

Actually, you’re not missing anything. You’re right. A softball hitter can have the best swing mechanics in the world, but if she can’t make contact with the ball, it doesn’t mean much.

I’m sure you’ve seen those hitters with less than perfect hitting mechanics make things happen simply because they are great at putting the bat on the ball time and time again.

That said, it’s important to work BOTH swing mechanics and softball VISION if you want to reach your peak softball hitting performance level. This softball dad shared a great idea on how to do that with soft 1″ rubber balls. 

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Softball Training – Vision, Tracking and Pitch Selection

probatterBy Coach Marc

Let me make a prediction – the next breakthrough in performance enhancement will come from ”head training”.

A big part of it will come from integrating more mental skills training into our programs but I predict that biggest advances in the next 2 decades will come from vision, information-processing, and decision-making skills training – or if you want – cognitive skills.

Right now, a few people do a couple of drills and exercises that will work on these things but nothing that is really structured or systematic. I’m sure this is going to change within the next 10-20 years just like softball conditioning is now becoming a big part of serious programs and it wasn’t not that long ago.

Just this past weekend, Cindy Bristow talked a lot about tracking and pitch selection.  There is going to be a lot more research on that aspect of the game in the years to come and eventually new training techniques and structured training protocols to train ”cognitive skills” will come out and will be implented as part of the regular training of serious softball players.

In the mean time, I invite you to read the following article on sports vision for softball:

Sports Vision and Softball

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Softball Hitting – Cindy Bristow on Tracking and Pitch Selection

softball-visionBy Coach Marc

This weekend, we have the chance of having Cindy Bristow of Softball Excellence here in Montreal to do a coaching clinic all on pitching and hitting – the two most important aspects of our game.

Even though I’ve been around for a while, been to countless courses, clinics and conferences and been exposed to top coaches for years, I always love to learn how someone teaches something because you can always learn something and pick up a few tings from different people. This session is no different.

I believe what sets Cindy apart from many other clinicians is her ability to teach coaches how to teach the game.

Where many clinicians will give teach how to execute the skills and give you their favorite drills to practice them, she really show coaches how to teach the
various skills, not just how to execute it correctly.

Today was all about hitting. We spent the morning covering the fundamentals of hitting and she shared her favorite drills to teach it.

Personally, what I enjoy most was the afternoon which was all about learning
how to hit. The morning was about how to swing and the afternoon was about how to hit.

You see, there is a difference between swinging and hitting. Swinging is about having proper mechanics when hitting the ball. Hitting is about tracking the ball properly and making the right decisions and selecting the right pitches.

As she explained, 90-95% of hitting practices are about swing practice and maybe only 5-10% about tracking and pitch selection. Yet, tracking and pitch selection are very important aspects of the game.

Some of the reasons she gave to explain why coaches don’t spend enough time on that aspect of hitting is because we don’t know how to train it and we don’t know how to integrate it into our practices.

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