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coaching girls softball

Softball Workout – 3 Core Exercises for More Hitting Power

Today I would like to share with you three of the most effective core training exercises to improve hitting power.  If you want to hit the ball harder, deeper and with more power then you need to do these three exercises.

Many people do a variation of crunches, planks, or leg raise.  While these can be effective, they are not the most suited to increase hitting power.  Therefore, if you truly want to hit the ball harder then you need to harness most of the power on the rotational aspect of hitting.  This is where you get most of your power.

Here are the three core exercises to help increase your rotational power.

The first one is the Barbell Core Rotation.

  1. Stand upright holding the end of a weighted bar at chest level with your elbow bent and the other end anchored on the floor against the solid object.
  1. Twist your upper body to one side, lowering the bar down to the side of that knee, and bending your hips and knees.
  1. Return to the upright, mid-position and repeat on the other side.

The next one is the Dumbbell Russian Twist.

  1. Start in a sitting position with your feet up off the floor, knees bent, holding the dumbbell at chest level in both hands with your arms extended out in front.
  1. Twist your torso to one side, lowering the dumbbell towards the floor.
  1. Twist your torso back to the other side, keep your feet up, and arms straight throughout.

Finally, a Swiss ball exercise called the Swiss Ball Lower Body Twist.

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Quick Tip for Softball Coaches – It’s Okay to be Tough!

coaching-softball-tipsBy Stacie Mahoe

There are many coaches out there doing their best to teach instead of just yell which is great. I believe you coach best when you get to know your players and have the heart of a teacher vs just using a dictator style of coaching. (You know the one where you just yell as loud and often as possible to “make” your players listen.)

I’m all for positive coaching, however don’t forget that if you DO have players that do better when you put some pressure on them or are “hard” on them, it’s perfectly fine to get on them!

I’m not saying this from one coach to another. I’m actually saying this as a parent.

I have one daughter who is one who needs more encouragement with firmness. My other one does much better when someone just gets on her back! If you try to be nice to her she doesn’t do as well. When you push her and get on her and even yell a little, she does better.

As a parent, I appreciate when a coach can back off just a tad and mix in some finesse with my younger daughter. With my older one, I WANT her coach to go ahead and get on her case because that how she performs best and a good coach recognizes that and does what they can to bring the best out in her.

In this day and age of positive coaching movements, you may think twice about being “tough,” but there are times when it’s completely appropriate and sometimes even necessary. You can be “tough” and still be a positive coach. Try to please everyone and you’ll have more headaches than you ever wanted.

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Softball Coaching Tips – Communication Failure

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softball coaching tips - communicationOver the last 48 hours or so I’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of communication between coaches and players. Much of it has to do with how poor communication directly affects player performance.

Before we get into specifics, think about it in your own work situation. You’re working hard, believing you’re doing a good job for the company. But the boss never says “boo” to you.

At the same time, that same boss is constantly talking to and complimenting a co-worker performing similar work at a similar quality level. Now be honest — how motivated would you be to continue working hard?

That’s the way players often end up feeling. Some require more feedback than others, but all want to feel that connection to the coach. When they don’t, they often start trying to figure out what’s wrong — and often with disastrous results. There may not even be anything wrong, but in the absence of good communication the players start to fill in the blanks on their own.

The first situation I heard about was with a high school team. The complaint from a few of the parents I know is that the head coach only talks regularly to three girls on the team. It’s as if the others don’t exist according to the parents. And that makes the rest of the girls feel left out.

There is a somewhat happy ending to this tale, though. The assistant coach apparently does get it. He went out of his way to talk to one of the girls who was feeling left out, and just that act alone helped turn her season around.

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Softball Coaching: Your Number One Job Is…

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

As A Coach, Your Number One Job Is…

 

softballcoachingjob

It’s always interesting to ask a group of coaches what they think their number one job is. Some will tell you it’s to teach their players the game. Others will say to get their players in shape. Still others will say it’s to get their players scholarships, win State or Nationals or this weekend’s tournaments or some other similar goal.

Me? I believe your number one job as a softball coach, especially a coach of female athletes, is to get your players to feel good about themselves. If you do that, most of the other stuff mentioned above is a lot easier to attain.

I’ve seen Coach Mike Candrea credited with saying “Boys have to play good to feel good, but girls have to feel good to play good.” I don’t know if it actually originated with him, but there’s a lot of truth to it. While it may not be true for every girl — yes, yes, I’m sure your daughter is the exception whose game is not affected by how she feels at any given time — in my experience it’s true for most.

If that’s the case, then it stands to reason your number one focus should be on getting them to feel good. If they feel good they will be more receptive to instruction, play harder, be more focused and be more successful. If they do all that, winning can’t be far behind.

Yet it’s surprising how many coaches don’t really get that. They watch the movie Miracle or Remember the Titans or some other macho sports flick and decide that the way to coach their team of 12 year old girls is to yell at them, scream at them, punish them for any minor indiscretion and otherwise make them “mentally tough.”

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Softball Coaching Tips – When to Move On

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

reduce softball coaching stressAs a general rule, the type of people who frequent discussion boards such as the Discuss Fastpitch Forum tend to have a high level of interest in the sport. And none more than the coaches who come seeking to share ideas and information.

Coaches such as yourself are usually very dedicated to their teams as well as individual players and/or students. You want the best for all of them all the time. Yet there’s a lesson each of us has to learn at one time or another: you can’t save the world.

What I mean by that is sometimes, despite your best efforts, a kid just won’t be that interested in getting better. When that happens you have two choices: fight a losing battle or move on. In my experience, unfortunately moving on is usually the better choice.

Yes, it’s hard to do. You’ve put in the time and you know you can help that kid if she’d only listen. But she won’t. She doesn’t care if your way is better. She wants to do it her way, and that’s all there is to it. Once that idea sets in, you might as well be trying to show the wall how to field a ground ball or deliver the pitch; the reaction will pretty much be the same.

It’s not any lack of effort or ability on your part. It’s that you’re faced with someone who has made a decision not to learn. Teachers face that all the time. The only thing that keeps them sane is recognizing an advanced case and just trying to get through it as best they can.

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Softball Tips: Keep Your Mind Open

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

coaching softballWhen I was a relatively young man in the business world, an older co-worker shared with me what he said was the best advice he ever got when he was in school. He said he had a professor who advised the class to “keep your mind and your bowels open.”

That sounded pretty amusing to me at the time, and I remember chuckling about it. But as I get older, I can definitely see the wisdom in that advice.

I won’t address the second part, other than to say those who have ignored it have found they do so at their own peril. You don’t really realize how important it is until that’s not the case.

But the first part is definitely important here in the fastpitch softball community. Probably the biggest disservice you can do to your players or students is to quit learning.

Once you’ve decided you know all you need to know, and that you have no plans to change any of it, you’re falling behind. That’s just the way it is.

Coaches and students of the game are making new discoveries all the time. To say “This is the way I’ve always done it and my players have been successful” is to ignore the realities of progress and learning. It may also be ignoring the reality that other players are continuously getting better, raising the level of their games. What may have worked 20 years ago may not work today, against today’s competition.

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Don’t Leave Your Young Softball Coaches Hanging

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

coaching girls softballI actually had this idea before I saw this thread from a coach who is frustrated by her new softball organization wanting to put one of their own on her staff (http://www.discussfastpitch.com/coaching-softball/4658-should-i-insulted.html). While she is wondering whether she should be insulted, the situation is actually the opposite of what happens most times.

In my experience, programs are so anxious to obtain coaches — particularly former players — that they essentially throw them to the wolves. They provide little to no training, and little to no oversight. That’s just wrong.

While former players can bring game experience to bear, there’s a lot more to coaching than the Xs and Os. In fact, that’s often the easy part.

The tough parts are things like dealing with angry parents, or the drama that often goes hand-in-hand with pre-teen and teenage girls. For that they’re often ill-prepared.

Those parents love the idea of a former player coaching their daughter, until something (such as questions about playing time) come up. Then the tide turns, and the parent is all over the coach like a starving man on a Christmas ham.

Of course, for that coach in her early 20s it can be difficult to deal with a 30-something or 40-something parent. She doesn’t have the life experience in dealing with such confrontations, and often the balance of power tips toward the parent. It can make for a very ugly situation.

That is less likely to occur if

A) the coach has received training and experience in these aspects of coaching and/or

B) there is a more experienced coach attached to the team. The latter may not be a full-time coach, but instead more of a mentor who is visible to the parents and the team.

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Softball Coaching Tips: Process Not Outcome

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

Focus on the Process Instead of the Outcome

softball coaching tipsOne of the biggest temptations in coaching is to determine the success or failure of a particular action by the outcome.

If a hitter is in the cage and strikes the ball well we’ll say “Good hit!” even if her eyes were closed and the swing looked more like a fisherman trying to boat a marlin. If fielders are throwing the ball in warmups without a ball thrown away, we’ll consider it a job well done, even if the technique used to get the ball from one line to the other wouldn’t hold up too well in a pressure-packed game situation.

It’s just human nature. Yet focusing on outcomes can actually hurt player development. Yes, it’s nice to be encouraging — you’ve heard plenty from me on that already — but the goal is to be effective repeatedly. That’s probably not going to happen if good outcomes substitute for good technique.

Focusing on outcomes often shows up when working with pitchers. It’s one of the reasons I won’t allow beginning pitchers to have catchers. If a pitcher is staring down a catcher from 35, 40 or now 43 feet away, what’s her goal? To get the ball to the catcher. Doubly so if the catcher is Dad.

Yet getting it there any old way defeats the purpose of taking lessons. It’s bettter to throw 100 balls away while learning to pitch correctly than throw 100 strikes with a technique that won’t allow the pitcher to advance.

I always tell my beginning students to focus on the process, the actions we’re working on. As long as they keep the ball in the building when we’re indoors, they’re doing fine.

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Softball Hitting Tips – Helping Players Adjust in the Box

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog
softballhitterFastpitch softball hitting is challenging under any circumstances. But sometimes factors combine to make it even more difficult than usual.

A pitcher with better than average speed or movement on her breaking balls is one example. An umpire with an extra-wide, low or high strike zone is another. Even the field conditions or weather can play a part. It is at that time that smart coaches will often suggest that their hitters make an adjustment in the batters.

Sometimes that works. But often it turns into a battle of wills between the coach and the hitters. Because even though the coach is right that moving up in the box will allow the hitters to hit the drop ball before it breaks, or the riseball before it gets too high, the hitters still don’t want to do it.

It’s not that they’re being obstinate, at least on purpose. It’s that hitters often don’t feel comfortable moving to an area in the batter’s box they’re not used to.

Now, before you start getting aggravated with them, think about it for a minute. What’s one of the things we stress to hitters? The importance of having a routine – a series of actions the hitter does every time before signaling to the umpire that she’s ready to go.

Often getting into the batter’s box in the same place is a part of that routine. So when you tell the hitter to move up, back, in, out or live La Vida Loca, you’re taking her out of her routine. When that happens, expect a collapse at the plate, and a dirty look meant to convey the message “I told you so!”

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Softball Coaching Tips – Are You a Manager or a Coach?

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

coaching girls softballRight now we’re in kind of a lull period for fastpitch softball. Fall ball is over, and so many teams have either shut down completely for the holidays, or have at least dialed back on what they’re doing.

That means it’s a good time for coaches to do a little soul-searching regarding themselves. Thus the question that leads off this week’s rant.

So what is the difference between a manager and a coach? Setting aside the baseball definition, it’s really a question of approach.

A manager puts the pieces in place on the team and on the field. He/she gathers up the pieces, through tryouts or recruiting, decides what positions they’ll play (and how often they’ll play them), and shuffles the pieces when the original plan doesn’t work.

In many ways, a manager in softball is like a manager in business. He/she is there to direct things, but not necessarily to develop the people involved. If they want to get better, they’d best find a way to do that on their own.

A coach, on the other hand, focuses on his/her player’s well being and improving performance. If a player is struggling, a true coach will work with her to help her get better or overcome whatever demons have currently taken over game.

The difference between the two comes down to knowledge. There have been plenty of successful managers who didn’t know a whole lot about how to teach skills, break slumps or the like. Their job (as they view it) is to get the machine running properly. If a part of the machine is broken, you replace the part with one that works — either temporarily or permanently. If your goal is to win trophies, you can certainly do it with this approach.

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