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Softball Performance Tips – Start with Great Expectations

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

The pitching circle, seen here at ASA Hall of ...

ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, where championships are won (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

To Win, Start with Great Expectations

Everyone has known a fastpitch softball coach or two who never seems to be happy.  Ask him/her how the team is looking and you get a tale of woe that makes you wonder how the coach gets out of bed in the morning.  Then you watch the team and you realize they are a manifestation of the coach’s negative view.

Our sport is hard enough without making it harder on ourselves — player, coach or parent. What’s often needed is a positive mental attitude — in other words, setting out some great expectations for ourselves and the team.

I’m not talking about being unrealistic.  You can’t take a group of marginally interested players and expect them to win ASA Nationals.  Ain’t gonna happen no matter how positive you think. But you can expect your team/kids to play to the level at which they are capable — and have been trained. When you do that, you can also expect them to win most of their games.

Winning and losing both tend to be contagious.  If you step onto the field expecting to win, you stand a better chance than if you expect to lose. And once you win a few and start believing in yourselves, more wins are sure to come.  It becomes a self-feeding mechanism.

The same goes for losing.  When you expect to lose it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  You make the little physical errors and mental mistakes that lead to losses, then figure “That’s what I thought would happen.”

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Softball Performance Tips – Coaching Game

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By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

This past weekend was the first tournament for the 14U team I coach. We’d spent a lot of time drilling, preparing, running game-like simulations, studying our playbook and otherwise getting ready. I was absolutely convinced we were ready to come out gangbusters.

Then came the first game of pool play. I swear it seemed like my well-drilled team had been replaced by look-alike aliens who had never seen a fastpitch softball game in their lives. We couldn’t hit (despite working on it all winter), we threw to the wrong base or at the wrong time, we missed easy fielding chances, it was just a disaster. Definitely not what I was expecting.

And that’s what’s so humbling about our game. I’ve had a pretty good run with players I instructed individually the last few months. I heard glowing reports about their performance, saw their names in the newspaper, was proud of them for their post-season awards. Then the day I go out to coach my own team I wind up feeling like the worst coach in the world.

The only consolation is knowing I’m not alone in that. I’ve spoken with Cindy Bristow about this phenomenon and she said she’s felt the same thing. Cindy is a far more accomplished coach than I am (or ever will be) so to hear her say she once got to the point of feeling like she was a bad coach gives me some small measure of comfort.

It can happen to all of us. We prepare our teams to the best of our ability, applying whatever store of knowledge we have to the situation. But still, it’s the players who have to play the game. And when you’re talking about adolescents who have a million things going on in their lives you just never know what will happen. It’s a crapshoot.

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