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softball psychology

The Making of a Softball Defending Culture

You can run, hit, throw or even coach; but, if you haven’t studied to the secret of defending, you may never make it in the softball-world beyond just your passion. Learning the defensive softball tips is a golden requirement for killer softball teams. Good defending however is a combination of daily learnt tricks and practices that all players and even the coaches have to learn and make them a part of softball culture. This edition was mainly drawn from Jacque Joseph’s “Defensive Softball Drills” Guide Book. It gives a summary of values to inculcate into the killer softball defending squad.

Philosophy 1: Big innings must be a No-No…

According to Jacque Joseph, big innings are the deadliest demoralizer to a team. They happen when a team allows an opponent team to make three to four runs in a single inning. John Kelly describes the causes of big innings as the trigger events that turns a player’s “I can…” to “I can’t…” In other words, big innings are cold waters to a blazing softball team. As a coach, one should train pitchers to be of high speed in running as well as gain an unstoppable stability and equilibrium when pitching. It is also important for pitchers to learn some 3-Fs (Fearless, fatigueless and focused) in all games. Nevertheless, all coaches ought not to force any tired player back to the game as it could be fatal to the performance.

Philosophy 2: Catching well is mandatory

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Softball Performance Tips – The Pre-Game Pep Talk

softball-coaching-pep-talk

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

If the movies have taught us anything, it’s the importance of the pre-game pep talk. Whether it’s Knute Rockne telling the boys to win one for the Gipper (played by former President Ronald Reagan, by the way, in his second most famous role) or Herb Brooks telling the US Olympic hockey team they could beat the Soviet Union in 1980, we see that the big, inspirational speech is the key to victory.

Or is it? That kind of rah-rah speech may work in football or hockey, where you pretty much have to get yourself amped up to a fever pitch in order to take and dish out the hits, but in fastpitch softball it may not be such a good idea.

Softball is a game of precision more than adrenaline. Getting over-amped can cause you to rush, break down your mechanics and actually under-perform. It can cause your heart to race and your breathing to get more rapid, taking away the calm sports psychologists recommend for most precision activities.

But the real point is, as a player, you shouldn’t need a pre-game speech to get you ready to play. If you feel you do, you might want to re-think your choice of activities.

The opportunity to play fastpitch softball itself ought to be all the incentive you need to play. Sure, there may be days when you’re not 100 percent, especially as a long season grinds on. But once you hit the field and the umpire calls “play ball!” hopefully the excitement will return.

I know for me as a baseball player I never needed anyone to get me “up.” I loved the game and couldn’t wait to hit the field. If any coach tried to do the Big Speech I probably would’ve wondered why he was wasting time when there was a game to play.

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Softball Performance – You Need to Replace to Improve

By Stacie Mahoe
softball-thoughts-mental-game

Being in the right frame of mind when going into softball competition is a big factor in your success or lack of success. There may be thoughts floating around in your head that stop you from performing at your best. If you can replace these negative thoughts with positive statements, you’re likely to perform better on the field and be a bigger part of your team’s success.

The first thing you need to do is recognize some of the negative thoughts you have. Here are some common ones that pop up for most players at some point or another. Just because lots of players have these thoughts, doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to allow them to hang out in your head. Any negativity you can replace with more positive thinking will go a long way to making you a better softball player.

17 Common Thoughts That Can Hurt Your Softball Performance

  • I hope I don’t strike out.
  • I hope I don’t bean this batter.
  • Why is so-and-so playing?
  • I can’t play in rain/wind/sun/etc.
  • This umpire just doesn’t like me.
  • I hate this field.
  • I hope they ball doesn’t come to me.
  • I hope I don’t throw the ball away.
  • Why do you want me to bunt?
  • The pitcher is sooooo sllllooooooowwwww.
  • The other team’s cheers are so irritating.
  • These umpires are so unfair.
  • I don’t want to play INSERT POSITION HERE.
  • These tournament rules are so stupid.
  • This game doesn’t mean anything.
  • This is the biggest game of the season.
  • Wow, the other team is so good.
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Softball Performance Tips – Way to Improve Your Mental Game

By Stacie Mahoe

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about athletes and mental game skills.  I didn’t even know the WSJ had a section for sports.  Wow!.

softball mental game tipsAnyway, in this article they talk about some very interesting things including one of THE simplest ways to improve your mental game – deep cleansing breaths.

That’s right.  If you’ve ever paid attention closely enough, you’ll see that a lot of professional and collegiate athletes use this technique.  Actually I’ve seen a lot of high school aged athletes do it too now that I’m aware of the fact that it’s a great mental game trick!

I can’t tell you enough how much this ONE strategy can help improve your mental toughness and your performance.  Most recently I noticed that Danielle Lawrie does it before every pitch.

Seriously, if breathing techniques can help you remain calm during something as miraculous as giving birth, trust me, it works in softball too.  😉

If this is not something you already do.  Give it a try.  Also, try observing athletes and see just how many use this technique to stay calm, confident, and focused during competition.

Is this something you’ll try?  Or something you already do?

Leave me a comment here and let me know!

~ Stacie Mahoe

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Softball Performance – You Can Build It or Destroy It

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softball coachingI have to say that my favorite compliment to receive as a coach isn’t about how much better a kid hits, pitches, plays third base, etc. It’s when a parent says, “You’ve given my daughter so much confidence.”

I know this is going to sound all sunshine and puppy dogs, but what better contribution could you make as a coach than to help a kid go from shy and uncertain to bold and capable? After all, even for top-level players careers are short; they’re only going to need those skills for a little while, relatively speaking. But confidence in themselves is an attribute that spills over into their daily lives today and will serve them well throughout their lives.

Yet there’s a dark side to that compliment: why is it the player needs her confidence boosted in the first place? Lately I’ve been hearing it because someone else (read: some other coach) destroyed the player’s confidence first. That’s just sad.

Yet it happens all the time. Why is it that some alleged adults feel it’s okay to say anything they want to a kid, as long as the end result is winning a game or league or tournament? Why is it they feel it’s okay to put down a kid who won’t help them get there? Or (as in the story about the coach telling the 10U player she’ll never be a pitcher) why do some coaches feel it’s necessary to destroy a kid’s dreams before they’ve even had a chance to take flight?

I have my own theories. I’m sure the reason in some cases is that the coach thinks his/her only job is to win games. He/she doesn’t know very much about the game, and so by browbeating the players — especially the ones whose skills haven’t developed yet — he/she can cover up the fact that he/she is unable to help anyone get better.

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Softball Performance Tips – Choose NOW

softball dive for the ballBy Stacie Mahoe

You’ve probably heard that saying, “It’s now or never.” With every day that passes we get closer and closer to the end of the softball season and that statement becomes more and more relevant.  But the truth is, you NEVER know when your last game, your last inning, your last at bat, or your last play will be.

Don’t treat your opportunities to practice and play this game as if there’s always “another day” because no one is promised tomorrow.  Make each opportunity count.  Every chance truly is “now or never.”  No matter what situation you’re in, you will never get another chance to make that play, that pitch, or that hit ever again.  Make the most of it!

No one likes to think about season ending injuries or illnesses but they DO happen.  Just this past weekend my catcher broke bones in her left hand.  She’s out for the rest of the season!  Ouch!  Now or Never.

It happened to a friend of mine in high school: last pre-season game-broken arm.  Senior season gone.  As an underclassmen you always think you have more time, but you just never know.  Now or Never.

I know a junior who was kept off the field this year due to family issues.  She played not one out of softball this entire year.  She was expected to do big things, but now her junior season is gone.  She’ll never get it back and no one knows if she’ll ever have the opportunity to return to the field later.   As a sophomore it’s probably something she never thought would happen.  If it happened to you, would you be left wishing you’d done things differently in the time you had?  Now or Never.

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Softball Hitting – Build Unstoppable Confidence

By Coach Marc

The say the name of the game is pitching. I can’t argue with that. Without solid pitching, you can’t expect to win much.

However, something is even more important than pitching: confidence. Without it, you’re out before you even step on the field.

I’ve been coaching 20 years and the single biggest challenge I’ve had all these years: to get my athletes to be confident. Too often, they have doubts, fears, worries. It’s the nature of being humans.

Check this video to learn how to become more confident at the plate:

 

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