In the spirit of Valentines Day I couldn’t help but try and tie in softball to the most romantic day of the year. Not easy to do but fortunately for me reality TV made it easy for me.

I don’t mind the show, nor the staff nor the dresses. My problem lies in the fact that the vast majority of the brides seem to have put about $37.50 into their “relationship” yet are ready to drop $20,000 for a dress. Their dream romance seems to stem from having the fairy tale gown, rather than the fair tale marriage.

In fact I’ve actually watched shows, did I just say that out loud, where the “brides” are choosing the dress and don’t even have a fiance. Not kidding, I’m not sure I can understand the concept of caring more about the dress than the groom. I guess it’s harder to find the perfect gown, than a man who will spend the rest of his life loving you selflessly and sacrificially. Reality TV, here is a reality check … there is no fairy tale romance without the work. Ladies if you ever listen to anything I say … Say NO to the dress and spend the time building a solid foundation instead.

Here is how it ties into softball ….
Say NO to the new $300 bat and say YES to a $20 batting tee and a bucket of wiffle balls and DO THE WORK.

Say NO to the pretty new batting gloves with comfort pad and air conditioned grip and say YES to putting in enough practice that you develop blisters.

Say NO to the $200 sunglasses to wear in the outfield and say YES to running until you are sore learning how to judge the ball and block the sun with your glove.

Say NO to the new glove and say YES to wearing out the leather on your old glove learning to field and dive.

Say NO to worrying about how pretty the $4.72 trophy looks and say YES to the knowledge that you left everything you had on the field to earn it.

Say NO to a new color coordinated pair of cleats that help you look prettier standing around and say YES to learning how to be aggressive on the bases and actually producing runs.

Bats, helmets, gloves and cleats are tools that are needed for the job. But at the point that you put your hope in the “stuff” instead you are like a bride buying a wedding dress with no groom. Say NO to whatever that fairy tale items is that you believe is going to make you a princess on the field (your dress), and say YES to DOING THE WORK.

Category : Baserunning | Hitting | Mental advice | Training | Blog

An exciting element of being me and helping girls learn how to raise the bar on what they expect of themselves, seeing them set really high goals, and then watching them hit those goals. In regards to this, I have to say that this week was on of the most exciting times for “being me” that I can recall. You see I work with a player that is at a level of competitiveness, that what she wants to achieve and what she is willing to do to achieve it that is just way out there.

One of the things that I frequently talk about with my players is when you are done, what will your legacy be. Will your name be in the college program for just the 4 years you are there, or will you be in the back of the book for others to use as a target? If you know me, then you know that I get all keyed up attacking the bases. So when this player set a goal to beat the NCAA Division I single season stolen base record I was stoked. Not normal Dalton stoked. I mean like way out there stoked.

When you set a long term goal like that you don’t just wake up one morning accomplishing it. You have to set a roadmap, I call them GPS Based Goals if you have ever been to one of my clinics. You have to define the points along the journey that allow you to measure whether you are heading in the right direction or not. So the first destination on the course, was breaking her high schools stolen base record. Rather than just breaking the school’s single season record, she went ahead and shattered the schools career stolen base record. In just this season. What another had accomplished in 4 years, she broke just this year. And they haven’t even started their playoffs yet where she’ll surely get more.

We celebrated for a few minutes. Ok maybe more than a few minutes, and maybe I did get her a card to tell her how proud I was. But then we moved right on to “Now how do we go about breaking the entire State of Georgia’s single season stolen base record next year.” The first thought of course is “Can you get on base more often so that you have more chances to steal?” While we always strive for perfection the fact is her batting average is almost .500 and her on base pct is almost .600. So while there is room to improve, the odds that she doubles her production next year just by getting on base a few more times is pretty slim. So we had to analyze each time she was on base, and figure out why she didn’t get more this year. The problem was that there were girls in front of her that were in her way. She could ask them to just make outs, but then it would be hard to lead the team in RBI’s. Part of setting goals has to be an acknowledgment that whatever obstacles are in the way, will still be there unless you figure out a way to get around them. Basically we both feel like the strongest possible way to accomplish her individual goal, is to become a leader and somehow help those players become more aggressive as well. If they steal 3’rd, she can steal 2’nd. Or they attack 3’rd when she hits instead of stopping at 2’nd, then she can steal 2’nd. In other words, instead of just focusing on the same skills we have been for the past 3 years: timing, speed, sliding, diving and consistently getting on base she has to become more of a leader and motivator to get these girls on board with helping her achieve her goal. She has to help them “want” to GET DIRTY.

Meghan is determined that the single season stolen base record for the State of GA will be hers and she needs them to move forward, so that she can move forward.  So the exciting thing is that while they don’t know it yet, but by this time next year they will also have broken the schools “former” record.

Yes I’m throwing som props out to Meghan Rud for what she puts into this game, and for the fact that she sees now what she’ll do in 6 years and is willing to work hard to get there every single day of her life. But hopefully as you’ve read this you yourself are realizing that whatever your personal goals may be. The odds are strong that for them to be “record breaking” you will benefit the team by accomplishing them, and you will also need the team to help you accomplish them. But that sounds to cliche I know so I won’t write that.

Category : Baserunning | Blog

For those of you that don’t live in/around the state of Georgia. King of the Mountain is a tournament that is held every year in about 12 different locations just to ensure that I have to drive hundreds of miles in 1 day trying to get from location to location to see as many of my players as I can.

So yesterday from sunrise to sunset I got to experience all that is King of the Mountain. I got to see The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Ugly: While you are on your own in the batters box, this game is most certainly a team sport. So the ugliest aspect of the game is definitely a bad attitude. Because the bottom line with a bad attitude is one player saying “I’m upset about something and I want you other 10 players on the team to focus on me, instead of my helping you.” Unfortunately I got see this first hand yesterday.

The Bad: While I don’t expect every at bat to end with a home run, I do expect players to go into the batters box and attack the ball. Yesterday unfortunately I saw a lot of girls that looked like a deer in headlights in the batters box yesterday.

The Good: One of the things that I love about the game, is that there are players out there who do things that you just can’t coach, and they just leave you in awe of what they’ve done. One young lady, KB, is such a player. She came into a game as the pitcher after the starter walked 4 straight batters to start the game off. So the bases were loaded, no outs and 1 run already on the board. She didn’t walk onto the field in dread of the situation, she came onto the field full of energy, took her warmup pitches and then backed off the mound and looked at each player on the field 1 at a time and breathed life into them. It was amazing. She talked them through the situation and left them with …. “It’s a new ball game. It’s zero to zero. Nobody on.” She turned an awful situation around with her attitude. Pitched her way out of the inning by getting 3 outs with nobody else crossing the plate. The players all charged off the field, now pumped up and instead of taking the glory that they wanted to bestow on her she reminded them “zero to zero … lets go win this game.” She wasn’t playing the same game that 99% of the other girls out there play. She was playing the game in her head instead of on the field, and in her head she was winning, not losing.

So as a coach I can share what you shouldn’t do, I can provide advice on what the right things to do are, but what I really want to do is learn how to clone the KB’s of the world. But until that is possible, we’ll all have to just watch in awe together as they demonstrate how the game should really be played and remind us all that it never involves the expensive bats, fancy bags or costly lessons. It’s about attitude and effort, and the girls that can control it, are the ones that win despite the score.

Category : Baserunning | Coaching | Hitting | Mental advice | Blog

The third game I got to experience yesterday was against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, against the Kentucky Wildcats. I walked over to the field expecting to root for the home town team as usual, but I found myself really hoping that the Kentucky Wildcats would pull the game out.

You see I was amazed by the communication between players in practice. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a team go through warmups in “game mode” cheering and encouraging each other the way the Wildcats did. Every great play in practice was accompanied by a “that a girl” or “you are just fast like that Macy” when someone would run a long for a ball during outfield practice. A missed ball, followed by good hussle after the ball would encounter a “that a way to stay with it.” When the coach would hit another one that was fielded, the rest of the girls would come back almost in unison “I knew you’d get it because you are just good like that.” During the game though they played the way you know I love to see the game played … “all out on the bases.” They just ran and ran and ran, they pushed every play and forced Georgia Tech to make every throw. Any bobbles at all ended up earning the Wildcats extra bases.

Near the end of the game, down by 2, with 2 girls on base senior Molly Johnson who had several stolen bases, and legged a double into a triple due to flat out baserunning speed and skill came to the plate. She hit a ball really hard, and flew down the line. Against any other team she probably would have been safe, but an unbelievably strong armed SS Kelsi Weseman made a great play on the ball and just got her out by an inch.

So although I love the home town Yellow Jackets, and had the pleasure of watching one of the greatest hitters in the game, Jen Yee, deep down I was really rooting for the Kentucky Wildcats who had several girls who were DIRTY from head to toe. And you know I DIG THAT.

Category : Baserunning | Blog

As a child I loved hearing those words. Because I loved to race.

What I also loved was trying to find short cuts whenever possible, I wanted an advantage to help me win. But I always hated when other people cheated and took short cuts. Because there is a huge advantage to the person who runs a shorter distance than the other person. You seldom find someone who would intentionally choose to run a longer distance, accept in the game of fastpitch softball.

The objective when at bat is to crush the ball, and get to first base before the throw is made. The longer the distance that you run, the more advantage the fielder has to get you out. Yet I see so many players, at all age levels, that run and step on the back end of first base. The problem with that is that the back end of the base is a full foot further from home plate than the front end is. If I’m at your game you just may hear me yelling “Take the shortcut” which means …. “Run to the front part of the bag instead of the back part of the bag.”

It may seem small, but that is nearly 2% of the distance, which equates to about 7 100th’s of a second. That is about the difference in just being called safe, or just being called out. So my advice to if you are serious about trying to get on base is to practice as often as you can running intentionally so that your toe will touch that front part of the base. So be sure to take that shortcut from now on.

Category : Baserunning | Blog

“…. we stole on you, while you weren’t looking we were cooking and we stole on you.”

Is a very common cheer I hear at softball parks around the country. Usually recited with glee just after a wild pitch or a past ball. While exciting for your team, the reality is that that isn’t a stolen base they are merely gifts. The pitcher or catcher saw you on base and thought “she is such a nice girl I’d like to give her the advantage of the next base.”

Gifts in softball are rare and beneficial so I sure recommend you take them, but I’d also like to see you develop the attitude that you actually want to “steal” the next base instead of waiting around for gifts. By that I mean you should look the pitcher/catcher right in the eye and give them the look that says “I’m going to take that next base right out from under you. I know you don’t want me to take it, I know you are going to make a good through, I know your fielder will catch it and will try to tag me, but guess what … I’m going to steal it from you anyway and I will be safe.”

Those girls that are truly aggressive on the bases become weapons that can produce runs and help their teams win the short game. If you need help developing the skills to give you that confidence be sure and check out my Winning the Short Game or Get Dirty DVD’s. They wil help you conquer the fears you may have about sliding or diving that are holding you back from being the run scoring machine that you want to be.

The great news is that even though the opposing catcher my cry once you become a truly aggressive baserunner they can’t call the police, because “stealing” bases is totally legal.

Category : Baserunning | Blog