Typically, I am a little more creative with the title of my articles. I like to keep you guessing where “I might be going” with my writing. But for you the loyal reader I wanted to leave no doubt what I believe to be the absolute most important part of being an infielder is quite simply to get the out.

Oddly enough I wrote this post for another media outlet when my first grand daughter was born over 10 years ago. I started thinking then, that if she does play softball she may have 10-20 different coaches throughout her career plus dozens of different instructors at camps, clinics or for personal lessons. Here I am 10.5 years later and I have not 1, but 2 granddaughters playing the sport.

I didn’t write this to help my granddaughters avoid awful instruction. I trust that the clear majority of the information they hear will be solid fundamentally and will be delivered with good intention. Instead I wrote a series of things about the one thing about each skill that I would deliver to my heirs if we were sitting down in the shade eating an ice cream discussing the game. They might look at me with their adorable eyes and dirt covered uniforms and ask, “Pops what is the most important about …” and in this case playing infield.

I would stop licking my chocolate raspberry truffle cone, look her right in the eyes and say, “sweetie that’s easy the most important part of being an infielder is to GET THE OUT!”

She would probably follow up with something like “But Coach A says we have to be down and ready a thousand times each game.” Being set and ready is a great thing because it ensures you are in a position that gives you the best chance to get to the ball which helps you get the out.

“And Coach B constantly yells out that we should know what we are going to do if the ball comes to us.” Sweetie thinking through the play before the ball leaves the pitchers hand is also a great thing because it ensures that you are in the best mental position to help get the out.

“And at the last camp Instructor C had us practice our footwork over and over. She said we don’t have to go straight to the ball we can come around so we are in a better position to throw after wards.” That’s also an awesome thing to practice. It helps you be in the position to throw to help you get the out.

You can probably guess that I could go on forever and if I were enjoying an ice cream cone with my grand daughter talking softball I you better believe I would drag that moment on for as long as possible. But since this is you, you don’t have an ice cream cone, and have other things to do, I won’t.

There are a million things that as coaches/instructors we try to drill into players heads. Generally, we emphasize the one(s) we believe to be important. Sadly, there is also a lot of competition between coaches/instructors over the words they choose to use when trying to emphasize their points. I can’t tell you how many plays I’ve sat and watched where a player gets the out and is still yelled at by her coach. “You should have charged it sooner.” “You shouldn’t have stood up you should have tossed it.” “You shouldn’t have tossed it you should have stood up and made a solid throw” “You shouldn’t have tossed it to her you should have led her to the base” You should have … You should have … You should have.

All too often what I see is coaches, parents and players getting hung up in what they know about the game. They forget about the simple fact that all of the millions of practice hours are simply to help us prepare to get the out.  My challenge for you this month is to figure out not only how you will teach the skills, but how you will help players learn that each skill alone is simply a tool to help them increase their chances of getting the out.

Help them understand that when the play is over, if the out was made then it was a perfect play. Don’t let them beat themselves up just because they missed 1 of the 127 things you practiced the weekend before. And certainly, don’t beat her up to the point that she focuses on doing that skill right to the detriment of getting the out.

If I ever have the privilege of watching any of grand daughters play a championship game and they simply kick the ball to the other fielder for the game clinching out I will be the first one in her ear saying, “Sweetie that was the best infielding play I’ve ever seen.”

Category : Mental advice | Training | Uncategorized


When you think of birds you probably lump them all into a single category and probably just think of them all flying because after all that’s kind of what birds do.

Well what about the Penguin? They are a bird but they don’t fly.  Kind of embarrassing. Kind of a let down to be a bird but not be able to fly. Could be why the waddle around with their head down so much. Thinking how awful and horrible and useless they are because they can’t fly. Right? Well the truth is that while they can’t fly and do waddle around they are actually very gifted swimmers. Since they love to eat fish that’s a pretty special talent to have don’t ya think. But that isn’t what you think of when you see them is it? But this article isn’t about penguins it’s about you. Are you focusing on the talents that others have and just waddling around with your head down wishing you could be like them? Or are you quietly going about the business of being “you” swimming and doing what “you” do best even though the fans are focused on those flying?

One of the most common birds in the world is the chicken. You may not know this but chickens can actually fly. Not far distances and not very high but they can indeed fly. But you’ve probably never seen a chicken fly. Why? Some people think it’s because they are afraid. What an opening for me right? “What is holding you back from being the bird that God intended you to be?” But actually that’s not where I’m going with the whole chickens can fly but don’t dealio. My thoughts are that chickens don’t fly because they don’t need to. They have a perfectly good life on the ground. So let me ask you this … Are you happy just being you or are you focusing on the things that others around you tell you that you are supposed to do that would make you “better.” You are made to be “you” not someone else. There are millions of things you “could do” if you chose to, but just because a million others may do them doesn’t mean you have to. Are you focusing on, and are you thankful for what you do have like a chicken or are you worried about trying to be like some other “bird?”

I’ll bet you didn’t know that the smallest bird in the world is a type of hummingbird known as the bee hummingbird? They are just 2.5 inches in length and weighs in at only 1.8 grams. Compare them to the largest flying bird which weighs 46 lbs and you kind of have a mismatch. While they can fly and many do migrate like other bird families they can only fly short distances before they have to stop and eat. So why bother? What team would really want a tiny bird that can hardly keep up on a long flight? Any team that wants to win that’s who. Can you imagine how determined you have to be fly thousands of miles to migrate but having to stop over and over and over and over in order to eat and rest? Also the hummingbird is the only bird in the world that can fly forward and backward. That’s a special talent. It can also hover in the air long enough to get the nectar out of a flower and is smart enough to remember every single flower it ever gets nectar from. So let me ask you this shorty. Small fry. Weakling. Are you focusing on what you bring to team that others don’t or are you busy wasting energy just comparing your size to theirs?

The eagle is probably the most revered of all birds. When I was young I often tried to flap my wings like birds to fly. Fortunately I wasn’t like friends who thought they really could fly if they jumped off high things before flapping. You may have tried the same thing yourself at some point in your life. So what is it about the way eagles flap their wings and fly that makes them stand out from other birds? You see that’s entirely the wrong question. In fact you hardly ever see an eagle flapping their wings. That’s their beauty. They wouldn’t have the strength to fly to the heights and for the lengths that they do. They use the wind around them. They simply put their wings out and glide and trust the wind to carry them … and it does. Are you soaring high trusting those around you or are you flapping your wings hundreds of times a minute, like a hummingbird, trying to do it all on your own?

Each and every bird is gifted in unique ways just like each and every softball player. Instead of envying the gifts of others you should be focusing on what type of “bird” you are.

Category : Mental advice

HannahThat’s a GREAT question!!!

One that players ask me all of the time. “I like playing this” “Dad wants me to play this” “Coach won’t let me play this but I want to.”

Probably all of the same things that have gone through your head more than once or twice in your career.

With my youngest granddaughter in mind I sat down and wrote out my thoughts.

I hope you enjoyed my two previous posts on Princesses but my youngest granddaughter doesn’t like getting her braided all fancy-schmancy and is unwilling to wear a princess costume. What she is though is absolutely fearless. She is also open to trying to new things and persists at them until she’s got it. Of course, I tend to persist at things as well so I tried to be creative and work her and the Disney Princesses into a serious, thought-provoking article on what position you should play.

To me the most important part of choosing what position you should play is to identify who you are. What are your strengths? What skills has God blessed you with that make you unique? What position are you best suited to succeed at? In fact succeed is kind of a weak word. What position are you best suited to stand out and shine at? Often the easiest way to learn about ourselves is to study others so I’d like to introduce you to Team Disney the newest of the elite level travel softball teams.

Team Disney is obviously coached by Belle. She’s strong, smart and doesn’t judge a book by a (its) cover. Clearly great qualities for a softball coach. More importantly she isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with a Beast so I know she’d do a great job with umpires and athletic directors at the collegiate level or booster club presidents at the high school level.

The pitcher for the team is clearly Rapunzel. She is one tough chick. She simply won’t back down and absolutely will go after the hitters that other pitchers fear. Plus she clearly has the hair to pull off all of the hairdos and support the various forms of hair bling that seem to be required of the position to distract batters.

How about the hot corner at third base? Is there a “princess” that is really suited for that role? Hello! The title for her biographical movie was Brave so clearly Merida can own that position with no problem.

How about the newest Disney character Queen Elsa? She can literally throw frozen ropes and we all know that is a key trait of short stops. Her sister Princess Anna has a true gift of supporting the main character and sacrificing herself. So she’s obviously going to catch.

More than likely if you are old enough to be reading this and play the sport you are likely very athletic. You can “play” any position and likely do what your coach asks of you. Before I go further know that I’m all about you playing whatever position your coach/team needs you to play. But I’m not talking about just “playing positions.” I’m talking about choosing to play the position that lines up with your individual skills and interests so well that you will standout playing the position and redefine what coaches start looking for in others. Kind of like the way Pocahontas would stand out in Center Field. Fast. Check. Depth perception. Check. Can paint with all the colors of the wind and go where she knows it will carry the ball and not just track where it is going at first. Check.

Yes, your momma will get better close ups of you if you play first base instead of right field, but is that really the best position for you to utilize your crazy God given speed? You’re a pretty good pitcher now in 12U because you are bigger/stronger than other pitchers your age. But the problem is you hate practicing, so you don’t and you know that others keep getting better and you aren’t. Why not find the position that does thrill you and makes you want to give everything you have for it? So that in 2 years you are the one standing out and passing up the other girls who are stronger in those positions right now.

I know there are many parents, friends and fans in the stands that cheer more for particular “positions” than they do for others. I get that there are lots of girls fighting over certain positions and turning their noses up at others. Many who believe that there certain positions that only exist so that bench warmers can actually get into games now and then. But I’m praying that both you and my granddaughter Hannah aren’t influence by any of them. That your decisions of choosing a position to dedicate hours and hours and hours and hours of practice will be based on the position that lets your talents and your passions absolutely shine. Whether you or she wears a tiara off the field or not really isn’t my concern. But helping you line up your skills, talents, passion with the right position to make you shine on the field like a princess is.

Since writing this post back in March of 2014 for Fastpitch.TV, Hannah has become quite the softball player, is still pretty fearless and does like having her hair done with beautiful braids.

Category : Mental advice


In Princesses Part 1 – I asked you to consider whether or not Princesses should play softball. I offered several character traits that I believe Disney Princesses had that would make them ideal softball players and teammates. I shared why I hoped my grand daughters would emulate those traits when they get old enough to start playing this game. Hopefully the post both entertained you and challenged you. Yes challenged you.

I hope you had the time to think through the fact that this game is about so much more than just the physical skills we see occur during the games. Challenged coaches to think about the type of person their players were and whether or not they were expecting them to demonstrate good character or whether or not they are ok with good players that win but behave poorly in the dugout and in the rest of their lives. Challenged players to wonder which princess traits they represented best and which they may be dramatically lacking in.

I asked my personal batting students to think it through as well. To think through “princess behaviors” and find one or more character traits that I missed. One of my youngest students wrote back that Disney Princesses never gave up. Despite being in a hole they always fought to succeed then said “just like you have to do when you lose the first game of a tournament you can just give up and go home or you can keep fighting.”

This week in my video I take the opposite approach and I discuss three traits about princesses that I most certainly do not want my grand daughters to emulate. Traits that I hope to help them avoid. I hope you enjoy the video and the fun in thinking through this odd question. But more importantly I hope it’s sparked something in you, coaches and players that will make you strive for a little more.

I sincerely hope that your career is a true-life fairy tale.


Category : Uncategorized


A few years ago I had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of the toughest ball players in the game and discovered through our conversation that she was most definitely a girlie-girl. When I say girlie-girl I’m not just referring to her off the field looks and giggly laugh. I mean makeup and hair done for each game and she wanted to wear pink glitter cleats. A girl’s girl. With not 1 but 2 WCWS National Championships as part of a dynasty at The University of Arizona she was also clearly tough.

I had nothing but respect for her before I ever met her and talking with her only made me respect her more. So clearly I think high level athletes can maintain their female side and be outstanding in this great game.

For the sake of this post I’m literally talking about princesses. Not figuratively. How would a Cinderella, a Belle, an Aurora or a Tiana do for instance? If you aren’t familiar with those names let me share with you that those are just 4 of the classic Walt Disney Pictures Princesses. I have two daughters so I’ve been familiar with some of the princesses for many years. But my granddaughters have introduced me to a whole new level of “princessesness.” I know that’s not a word … yet … but I may trade mark it before Disney can.

You see for my granddaughters the world revolves around princesses. Colors … old news. That shirt that looks like what you would call blue, is in fact Cinderella. That jacket … don’t call it yellow it’s Belle. Did you know you can purchase nearly any product in the world with a princess on it? I do. Pillowcases? Check. Sheets? Check. Forks and spoons? Check. Bicycles? Check. I’m sure you’ve seen those pretty pink Barbie cars … do they sell a motorized Cinderella car. Check.

I have 3 grand daughters who are in love with all things about princesses. So at least in my head it is kind of natural to start being curious if all this fascination with princesses might destroy their chances of being good softball players. Ariel was a convincing mermaid, but could she lead a team to a softball championship? Enjoy the video this week and come back next week for part 2 as I discuss the question “Should Princesses Play Softball?”


Category : Uncategorized


Have you cast aside the word “good” in favor of words with more pizzazz like “awesome.”

Have you set it aside in favor of words that portray more enthusiasm like “phenomenal.”

If you were to describe your softball play in 1 word would you choose the word “good” or something more intimidating like “relentless.”

I must confess that the word “good” has seldom passed through my lips. I’m a motivator for crying out loud. People get to choose what they are going to read. Who they are going to train with. Their time is valuable and I’m competing with “fantastic focus” “tremendous power” who wants to hear/read about a simple word like “good.”

That was until a trusted friend challenged me recently, partially in jest, but none the less I was challenged. They called to my attention that in Genesis chapter 1 God created the heavens and the earth. All that was in them. As He looked down after each day He saw that it was …. wait for it … wait for it … He saw that it was “good.”

That’s right. We are talking about the creation of the entire universe. About the creation of puppies. About the creation of mountains and mountain views. About the creation of Oceans and babbling brooks. About the creation of stars. About the creation of trees that yield cocoa beans for crying out loud. About the creation of very precious human beings. All that and it was good.

If God’s perception of those things was that they were good I’d be hard pressed to explain what I really mean when I say tremendous to describe how a hitting session went.

So yeah my friend sort of had my immediate attention and I promised them I would carefully think it through and write an article about the word good. Always the student I first decided to check out Wikipedia thinking it shouldn’t take more than 5 seconds to copy and paste their definition. Have you looked up the word good lately? I was overwhelmed at just how many different areas of life the word good is used in and how valuable the word has been through history. Here is 1 example I pulled straight out of Wikipedia:

Summum bonum is a Latin expression meaning “the highest good”, which was introduced by Cicero,[1] to correspond to the Idea of the Good in Greek philosophy. The summum bonum is generally thought of as being an end in itself, and at the same time as containing all other goods

Cool stuff huh. So good that it’s an end in and of itself and contains all other goods. Awesome. Fantastic. Tremendous. All consumed by the word good.

I know you were hoping for a good post on softball which is why you were on this site so let me transition to just how valuable the word is in relation to softball. Imagine you are a member of a softball team …

Would you like a defensive player who is tremendously athletic and once per year dives in the air to catch a line drive and while still in the air does a back tuck and throws the ball back to double up a runner while upside down or would you like a defender who consistently makes good plays?

Would you like a batter who has phenomenal power and can hit the ball 943.7 feet if the wind is blowing out and the pitch is a perfect 52.5 miles per hour right at the belt down the middle or would you like to have a player who has good situational awareness and consistently produces runs?

Would you like a speed burner who runs from home to first in 1.3 seconds but can’t follow the ball after she gets on base or would you like a good base runner who capitalizes on every opportunity presented to her?

Would you like a player with a cannon for an arm but who frequently misfires that cannon under pressure, or would you like a player with a good arm who understands that the perfect throw involves an out not her looking good doing it?

I’ve watched so many teams in the recent past lose games because they couldn’t get a bunt down. A bunt for cyring out loud. You stick your bat out and stop the ball from going into the catchers mitt. How badly do you think the coach would have settled for a good bunt in those situations?

How did this happen to our sport? We can’t even bunt any more because that’s not good enough to be worthy of practicing and taking pride in. Seriusly?

When did we lose sight of the value of “consistently good?”

Coaches are your tryouts even geared at finding the players who are good or are they like so many that I see where dozens of players are quickly run through, and each gets 5 swings. One lucky phenomenal swing and a player makes the team. A good batter who hits .450 each season but gets 5 bad pitches from the dad throwing the ball is sent packing.

Players when did y’all stop trying to be good. When did you leadoff hitters replace the fact that your job was to get on base with the idea that you needed to look awesome by swinging like the cleanup hitters? When did you decide that fielding 50 ground balls and making 50 good throws to first base wasn’t good enough? When did that become boring to you and need to be replaced with throwing 49 balls away while trying to make your throw look remarkable?

My friend was absolutely right. That’s why she’s a trusted friend. I suppose I could state the obvious a good friend. There is tremendous value in the word good all by itself. It doesn’t need to be bedazzled. It doesn’t need any bling. It doesn’t need to be something it’s not. Guess what you don’t either. You are perfectly created in the image of God and He sees you as “good.” So stop the frantic pace of trying to be more than that. Likewise stop assuming that anything you do can detract from that.

Category : Mental advice | Training

_DSC6549“Oh girls they want to have fun
Oh girls just want to have

That’s all they really want
Some fun
When the working day is done
Girls – they want to have fun
Oh girls just want to have fun,
They want to have fun,
They want to have fun”

Cyndi Lauper’s tune is a catchy one for sure. You start singing it and any hope of accomplishing anything that day just flies out the window because you just can’t get it out of your head.

_DSC6438Well I’ve got it in my head now because I think it’s the perfect way to describe the Aggressive Baserunning Clinic’s I get to do. As you can see in the pictures the clinic’s I conduct like this one for the 12U Atlanta Flames are no picnic. We “work” on attacking the bases and not just waiting around for other players to knock them in or for coaches to tell them to go.  We “work” on each and every player sliding flat on the ground and distributing their weight evenly. When I say that we work on Diving I mean that we “work” on each and every player actually diving in the air just like Super Woman.

You might think that getting girls to do something like this would take a miracle. But guess what? You would be wrong. Dead wrong.

These are softball players. Hardened athletes who are willing to do whatever it takes to win ball games._DSC6316

Once I help them get over their initial fears of the unknown and make it “fun” just look at the results. For a little fun in the dirt they are willing to work harder and push their bodies beyond anything you may have imagined. Once they catch on that GETTING DIRTY is “fun” there is nothing they won’t do._DSC6453

As you study their faces you’ll see that each is unique for sure but each is also intensely focused. Not the kind of expressions you expect to see when having “fun” I suppose. 

Your image of “fun” likely involves girls being silly. Cutting up. Laughing. If you were with me you might even say out loud that these players don’t really look like they are having “fun.”

_DSC6425I have perhaps a different perspective of “fun” than most folks which is likely derived from my premise that athletes enjoy pushing themselves to accomplish new things.

That while they are in every sense working hard externally, internally they are actually having “fun” because they know they will go to bed that night a better player. A tougher player. A player who has skills that will never be taken from them. Skills that they will use in the coming weeks, months and years to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Some shutter at the thought of hard work. They cringe at the concept of discipline. Pride? Passion? Excellence? Merely cute quotes to “share” on Facebook or Instagram.

Three things that I can tell you with absolute assuredness:

1. The young ladies on the 12U Atlanta Flames were indeed having a ton of “fun” while working hard because for them Pride – Passion – Excellence is what they are striving for as athletes and as young women.

2. There is no greater “fun” in this world than looking young ladies right in the eye and seeing that they truly get it.

3. I wouldn’t trade the moments like in this picture for all of the money in the world.


Category : Training | Uncategorized