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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.

Pitchers can really develop issues through misguided practice sessions. A typical question pitching coaches get asked is “How many pitches should my daughter throw each sessions, and how many times a week should she throw?”

There is no definitive answer to this question because it really depends. Would you rather have your daughter throw 50 good pitches or 100 sloppy ones? Would you rather have her working halfway every day or diligently twice a week?

I know which I’d prefer. Ideally she’d practice hard several times a week, but not every kid is wired that way. Better to have her practicing to improve her skills a little than practicing to get worse a lot. Because whatever she practices she will achieve.

There is no doubt in my mind that practice makes permanent. So keep that in mind as you watch your daughter or your team during a practice session, and ask yourself “Are they practicing to win, or to lose?” Because it does make a difference.

Anyway, that’s the way I see it.

Comments on Softball Tips – Practice Makes Permanent »

December 15, 2011

Joe @ 11:49 am

I agree 100% and have cut practices short because we were having a “Bad” practice. I am a very big believer in having good quality practices and sometimes you may not see the results immediately but guarantee over time you will.  Quality over quantity is the key. High School Teams that practice everyday and still do not improve continues to amaze me. I wish I could be with our 12u Team this much but it is very hard to do and to be patient while the families figure out which sport their daughter may do in the future but its all part of the fun.
 I had a coach preach growing up “you gotta Love it” and this I do!!

Cwalpole @ 5:02 pm

Well said! Another great example is how kids take groundballs. Once proper mechanics are established an infielder needs to take 30 “good” groundballs. “Good” meaning game-like! Infielderrs or outfielders for that matter should take 10 balls to their left, 10 to their right and 10 right at em, a couple of slow rolllers  and maybe some texas leaguers to go back on the ball. THese should be  taken with maximum effort, meaning the infielder or outfielder will use their left/ right or right/ left prep steps, gaining ground toward the batter and have that second foot landing as the ball passes the plate or for groundballs when the ball starts descending from the fungo hitter''s toss. Too many times I've seen young players taking loads of mindless groundballs  with no technique or urgency that amounts to little more than mild exercise.

former coach @ 5:13 pm

Learning the proper technique as young as possible.  Coached a 14U with several players with poor throwing technique.  They wanted nothing to do with changing their throwing motion….very frustrating.

staciemahoe @ 6:23 pm

I couldn't agree more. Often times coaches are happy as long as the ball is stopped then thrown to the correct base. Too often there is a complete disregard for HOW it was done (process) vs the fact that ball went where it was intended to (result).
So many bad habits are practiced regularly in “routine” skill drills. Drives me nuts!

December 16, 2011

coach kula @ 8:13 am

As for throwing you are right it can be very lathargic if not done properly.  We break it down every day and go through a throwing progression.  Back hand toss, wrist flip, dart toss, one knee throws, one knee to tie shoe laces to lengthen arm, then throw regulary and then back up and get some long throws.  At this point IF start down and OF throw ball up in air and then throw.

November 2, 2013

kassie @ 8:19 pm

hi my name is kassie im 14 and play varsity softball and travel ball. I go 5 days a week to my pitching instructor and the other two im at a tournament. if your not willing to give it your all everytime then you shouldn't be playing at all. no matter at what age you should love what you are doing or else your wasting your time!

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