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Softball Performance Tips – Building to Become Success

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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.

I’ve known coaches who loved to win so much that if their Ace player (usually a pitcher) wasn’t able to make it to the tournament one weekend, he/she would bow out rather than risk losing. Why would you do that?

Sure, you might suffer some losses, but so what? Without Ms. Ace there the other players would be forced to step up. And you never know — you might find some gems in there; the other players might step up in the face of the tougher road, making the team stronger over all. But you’ll never know if you won’t take that risk.

Sure, winning is fun, and it definitely beats losing. But playing below the level that challenges you is like looking at the last few pages of a mystery novel before you finish reading the rest of the book. It takes the excitement out of the outcome.

Now, I’m not saying go into tournaments that are over your head. That’s no fun either. But you want to play at a level that pushes your players to give their all — and that could result in losing even if they do. That way, if you do win, you’ll know you really did something special. And that beats a great record against weaker opponents any day of the week.

Anyway, that’s the way I see it. Enjoy the holidays this week!

Comments on Softball Performance Tips – Building to Become Success »

July 20, 2012

SportsSignup @ 1:32 pm

It's all about finding the right balance. You don't want ever game to be a cake walk because that doesn't make your team any better. On the other hand you don't want to get blown out of the water at every tournament because losing all the time is no fun either. The best games are the close ones. 

February 8, 2013

John Foster @ 12:11 am

I couldn't agree more, as a high school coach, I load my pre-district schedule with higher classification schools all the time, and I have parents fuss because we don't have great pre-district win loss ratio, but when district starts I know that my girls are ready to go to battle. We have had a ton of post season success because we are challenged before we play district.

February 27, 2013

the coach @ 2:39 pm

its all about getting kids to like the game and to play the game all four one and one four all and moving them to the next leavel of play

October 9, 2013

Fountain Valley CA @ 12:51 pm

I agree 100 percent. I'm currently in the same situation with my rec team. When my stronger, not so much ace pitcher is in the game, the other players seem to have a false sense of security and the level of their performance is sub-par as compared to when a not so talented pitcher is in then they seem to be more focused

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