One of the neat people who will be aboard the Softball Cruise Clinic is Gary Leland, the founder of Fastpitch TV. is a neat site which has over 100 episodes available online that offer some of the best advice, instruction and advice available in the softball world. Seriously! In the shows Gary brings you well done interviews and demonstrations from the best in the world that you can watch right from the comfort of your chair.

Gary has compiled these episodes while traveling the country as a road warrior. Getting you the “up close and personal” with the biggest names in coaching as well as playing. Here are a few examples:

Nearly every player I’ve met has asked “How can I do a better job hitting the change up?” Well lots of thoughts on that, but why not “tune in” and check out what the great Lisa Fernandez has to say: Fastpitch TV – Hitting the Changeup

If you are a pitcher and are thinking about the Softball Cruise Clinic, why not tune in and watch/listen to Angela Tincher one of the great presenters who will be onboard at: Fastpitch TV – Softball Cruise Clinic

Hitting to the opposite field? — It’s there
Drills to increase pitching speed? — It’s there
Tips on bunting? — It’s there

Did I mention that Gary has made his entire series of shows available completely free of charge. So what are you waiting for go check it out and increase your knowledge immediately.

Category : Coaching | Training | Blog

Have you ever watched the first few games in a t-ball players career? They are so cute when they hit the ball and then panic and run the wrong way when everyone starts yelling “RUN!!!”

If you are a coach trying to figure out how to get your players to hit to the opposite side of the field (behind lead runners) then you might want to have your players do the same thing. Run to third after a hit instead of running to first. Seriously!

More often than not, as players get started they have coaches/parents encouraging them to pull the ball because the poor little princess on third doesn’t have the arm strength to throw them out. So they learn from the age of 5 that pulling the ball leads to success. Which works great, right up until the time that the little princess at third has her arm transition into a cannon, or until there are runners on base and hitting it to third produces easy outs of lead runners. And as a team you find yourself unable to produce runs.

So if you are looking to help players break that habit, and they constantly say “but I can’t hit it to right field” then play a few practice games where they swing normally, but they have to run the bases backwards. It’s a fund drill to do that also serves a great purpose. Under those rules a hit to the third baseman becomes an easy out. So they quickly begin adjusting and trying to drive the ball to the right side. It also provides them with situations that are completely new to them and forces the offense and defense alike to have to think before every single pitch which is a good habit to be in. It also forces the defense to practice throws/tosses that are ordinarily not part of the game.

I guess you could say that running the bases backwards is like fashion, things always come back in style.

Category : Coaching | Mental advice | Training | 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

Last night I had the pleasure, if you can call it that, of celebrating the career of our companies CIO who is leaving after 24 years. There were a lot of comical memories as you can imagine, as well as many heart warming stories.

One particular story immediately caused my mind to leap to softball. A lady shared a quote that our CIO had shared with her regarding customer service. He told her “They will never care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” While it certainly applied to our work scenario, I thought it was even better for softball coaches so I wanted to encourage you by sharing it.

I would love to read your comments if this has held true in your life. Or feel free to tell me if it just “guff”.

Coaches: Are there particular things you do early in the season to let players know how much you care? About them? About the game?

Players: Are there coaches you’ve had that you’ve given 110% for even though they might not have been the best coaches, but you knew they really cared about you (your teammates)(your school) and that just made you dig deeper than you ever had?

Category : Coaching | Blog

I received an email from a friend of mine today that was sent to his team letting them know that practice was cancelled because the field had been setup for t-ball and hadn’t been changed. It had the portable fences, shorter bases etc.

It made me think that often times we look at situations like that and our defeated by them, rather than capitalizing on them and using them to our advantage. I wrote to the coach and suggested that in that situation there plenty of great lessons that could have been learned by going ahead and having the practice with the field configure that way.

1. With the fielders so much closer together they would be forced to communicate more.
2. With the shorter bases the fielders would be forced to attack the ball and release it faster.
3. With the short fences they could have done batting and really emphasized the girls hitting line drives, that would then translate to home runs.
4. With the short fences, and just being plastic, they would have had an excellent chance for the fielders to go back for the ball and work on fence drills.
5. With the obstacles in their way the girls would have to bond together and make the most of the situation, just like they would on a wet field, a game with a bad umpire, 5 games in a row etc.

In his books “Touch the Top of the World” and “The Adversity Advantage”, Erik Weihenmayer shares his journey to reach the 7 highest summits in the world. No big deal to you? Well Erik is also completely blind in both eyes. He shares a story of how mountain climbers traverse deep passages by tieing ladders together and then laying them across the ravines. They then have to walk across those flimsy ladders with their mountain climbing boots which are basically just lots of pointy spikes. He says “Can you imagine having to do that and actually seeing what is below? There is no way I could walk across that while looking down hundreds of feet.” The amazing thing about Erik Weihenmayer is that he doesn’t just try and “cope” with adversity, he uses it to his advantage.

What adversity are you allowing to defeat you, instead of taking advantage of it and using it to make you better? What adversities are you allowing your players to defeat them, instead of encouraging them how to use those situations to their advantage?

Category : Coaching | Blog

I just returned from the first Softball Cruise Clinic and was asked by one of the parents to share information about one of the sessions that I did. It is something that I learned from one of my mentors, Bobby Simpson of Higher Ground Softball. As I previously shared in a post Bobby likes to challenge pretty much everything, and believes that practice should resemble game speed and game situations as closely as possible. One of the most important thing any defensive player has to do is “get rid of the ball” once they have it, and more often then not in a game they are moving and their target is also moving. So this drill session is quite simply targeted at making the girls move and “get rid of the ball.”

You can start the drill with the girls in two lines, both facing forward as partners. One of the partners would start with a ball. They would simply walk forward and they would toss to each other. The partner on the left side would do a sideways toss like a second basemen would need to do to try and turn a double play at second, or a shortstop would do tossing it to third. The partner on the right would receive the ball and immediately try and get rid of the ball by making more of an underhand toss like a SS would make to second, or second basemen would make to first. They simply proceed walking to the end of whatever distance you’ve marked off. On the way back they would be doing the opposite type of toss because they would be on the opposite side. The drill would be repeated at a jogging pace. Then at a fast game speed pace.

You can then adjust the drill so that the partners face each other and shuffle their feet sideways from one of the field to the other making the toss to each other. Again start walking it through, then shuffling faster and faster.

Another progression would be to have the partners jog at each other and make the toss. This forces them to make adjustments for a closing distance as their speed varies. Once they have this down you can do a very fun and challenging variation. Form 2 lines that face each other from opposite ends of the distance you’ve marked off using just 1 ball. First girls in the line proceed to jog at each other and the girl with the ball makes the toss. Once she makes the toss the next girl in her line would then start jogging. The girl that received the ball would then make the toss to that girl as she approached. At that time the next girl in the line she was from would then start. The lines would continue alternating in that manner and the goals can be whatever you want. Every girl makes it to the other line without a dropped ball. There and back without a dropped ball. Complete the drill there and back at a speed that beats some given time to force receiving and getting rid of the ball at a faster game speed etc.

Toughest variation of the drill would be where the 2 lines face each other but they turn backwards. So that they are approaching other back peddling and they have to throw the ball to each other. What you will see is that girls will continue to try and make tosses but when they are both moving in opposite directions they really need to throw the ball and put something on it. They need to judge what the distance will be, and not toss based on what the distance is at the time.

There are tons of variations that you can add to the drills:
1. Toss the ball to lead the player instead of tossing it to her.
2. Popup type tosses that lead the player.
3. Karaoke steps instead of shuffling feet.
4. Hops instead of jogging.
5. Have a coach or player with a helmet walk back and forth between where the players will be going to cause “baserunner obstacles”.

Hopefully you and your players will get something out of these type of active movement drills. Encourage your players to come up with their own variations, because you will find that they can be very creative with this type of activity. Be sure to comment and share those variations so that others (and I) can benefit from their creativity.

Category : Coaching | Training | Blog

The first ever Softball Cruise Clinic was a whopping success. Monica Abbott proved to be as amazing an individual as you would imagine. Besides the instruction in the sessions which was awesome she was also very honest about her own background. She shared a humurous story of being the girl who annually played right field and just hoped to get walked, or get hit by pitches in order to get on base. One year a coach called to invite her older “all star” sister to join their team, which was nothing new, but this coach also reached out to her and said he wanted her as well. That little vote of confidence was the spark that it took to help softball transition from a “fun thing to do with friends” to being something that she really wanted to work at. After being “selected” for this travel team she finally started taking pitching lessons. That one coaches act of reaching out to her and believing in what she could become, instead of what she was at the time, plus years and year and years of amazing work habits led to our being blessed to witness one of the best pitching stories in history.

So I would like to “tip my hat” to that softball coach for taking the chance, and challenge the rest of you coaches out there to realize just how much your words/actions can have on the sport. Whether for good or bad you can have a dramatic effect on young girls dreams. She is now reaching out and ecnouraging so many other softball players to encourage them to pursue this game with a passion, because she was encouraged by one coach taking a chance. There just may be a Monica Abbott hiding inside that perenniel right fielder, and how cool would it be if you were the one to find her.

Category : Coaching | Blog