13
Aug

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
13
Mar

Eagle

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
13
Mar

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 grand daughter in mind I sat down and wrote my suggestions for Fastpitch.TV. Sure hope it helps you.

What Position Should You Play – For Fastpitch.TV

Category : Mental advice
13
Mar

Haley_PrincessHad to share a few of the characteristics about Disney Princesses that I don’t believe lend themselves to softball. If you haven’t already watch Part 1 be sure to catch that first.

Should Princesses Play Softball – Part 2 for Fastpitch.TV

Category : Uncategorized
13
Mar

Ella_PrincessOne day when I was sitting around with my grand daughters playing with all of their Princess stuff I got a crazy thought in my head. Being me I sat down and videoed my thoughts for Fastpitch.TV about the kind of characteristics that Disney Princesses have that would lend themselves to softball. Be sure and catch Part 2 as well.

Should Princesses Play Softball – Part 1 for Fastpitch.TV

Category : Uncategorized
1
Mar

DiveBackHopefully you are sitting down as you read this. Because what I wrote recently for Fastpitch.TV might really surprise you.

The Pursuit of Good for Fastpitch.TV

Category : Mental advice | Training