Defense Academy BlogRead Now
Work Hard!! Play Harder!!
By Coach Mark
5:30- 7:00pm groups
Softball is a game. Sometimes we lose sight of that, it is easy to do and frequently happens. Games are played. And those who truly excel at any type of game are said to “Play the game well.” I didn’t think about it quite like that 20 years ago, it was all about winning and world domination. Then I became a coach. Not just any coach, my first teams were under the age of 10, one that required adjustment and realignment to how I saw the game.
Constantly remind yourself this one thing…..IT’S A GAME! If you want to be good at it, you have to work: Time, effort, sacrifice, all very very important things in order to become good. It takes HARD WORK! HARD WORK! HARD WORK! The harder and longer you work at honing your craft, the easier it becomes to compete. We all hear about that. BUT, what we don’t hear enough that should go along with it is HAVE FUN!
It shouldn’t matter if you are 8, 18, or 48 HAVE FUN! A perfect example is Chicago Cubs Infielder Javier Baez. Clearly one of the most exciting defensive players in Major League baseball, El Mago (The Magician) is frequently smiling, dancing, laughing while in the field. To some it is a sign of arrogance or cockiness, but if you really look at it he is HAVING FUN! Yes, he has worked very very hard to make it to the highest level of the game, yes he is very gifted. When you work hard and do it the right way the game slows down, it becomes easier, it allows you to have fun!!
Why am I rambling on about this? Well, my older group of ladies last night kind of had to learn a little about Work Hard, Play Harder. Anyone who knows me will agree, I love this game. I can be seen jumping up and down and hooting and hollering during games. At practice and lessons I am just as animated…..if not more. And just like the 8-10 year old kids I teach, this 48 year old kid likes to have fun too. Last night was one of those nights. The lesson was just as intense as the week before, it’s just that everyone had the giggles so I made the lesson fun too. We worked hard last night, we learned a couple of new things, but we had fun.
There are times where having fun needs to take a break and maximum focus and effort are required. Specifically when player safety is involved or if the team has strayed off course and forgot the purpose of being there. It’s the balance of things. But also COACHES never, ever forget that we are teaching a game and there are also times where it should be fun. My goal is to get players to that point where they have worked so hard that when it is time to play that they embrace the game and have fun.
Group 1 - We continued to build on the new mantra of Catch It, Hold It, Show It, Throw It!! We did ground work as well as flat glove work while mixing in those 4 key steps. These ladies are really coming along nicely and I can’t wait to keep adding elements to our lessons.
Group 2 - We also built on Catch It, Hold It, Show It, Throw It. But while warming up I realized we needed to work on release follow through so added another element to it and they all saw improvement. I am starting to ingrain into their mindset that we need to turn those 4 steps into one fluid motion. Next week we will isolate them and try to mold it.
Impossible practices are FUN
By Amber Layman
7:00pm - 8:30p, groups
Quite honestly, I see the most growth out of kids I coach when THEY ARE NOT PRACTICING. Weird concept right? We can get the most out of our kids when there is no pressure to be perfect, win the game, outwit, outlast, outplay our teammates for that starting rotation spot. When we coaches aren't looking, we get a glimpse of how fearless our kids are during their "schoolyard pickup play" before practice, on social media, or in between games. Kids are making up these cock-a-mamee games and will GO HARD to win simply for bragging rights of "trick shots" into the garbage cans off the dugout wall, #24's helmet, and a spin move volleyball hike into the trashcan!
TAKE THAT FEARLESS SPIRIT AND IMPLEMENT IT INTO PRACTICE.
Create an impossible practice where kids spend time creating their own ESPN web gems.
- Dive for the ball and throw from your knees, back, butt
- Snowcone catches on and over the fence
- Throwing on the run
We can't leave a game thinking to ourselves "if only she laid out, if only she was 2 inches taller to climb the fence, if only". Your kids will do it if you give them the opportunity to be FEARLESS. Impossible practices were always the highlight of the week when I was coaching a team full time. I set aside 20 minutes each week to create a web gem. While the kids loved the break up of routine, I loved that I disguised practice time with a game. More importantly, I was creating an environment of FAILURE and the kids ate it up like candy. We performed non stop drills designed to fail 99.9% of the time. How can we expect our kids to be fearless and run into the battle without arming them with the tools to win the war even if there is only a 1 in a million chance they will win?
You'll thank yourself and your team will explode with competitive learning mindset if you introduce an Impossible Practice mindset! To get some inspiration, Click here to view the top catches on the 2018 Womens College World Series
During our Defense Academy for the older age groups, we progressively add harder defensive drills each week. As we near the end of our academy, I introduced Impossible practice drills and the KIDS HAD A BALL. I have never seen them so determined to try, execute, and consistently master a drill as I have with the introduction of throwing on the run. I didn't even get to our leadership teachings of the week because cohort trainees were laser focused on drills. They laughed, they shouted, they coached each other, and so much more. I sacrificed my own practice plan because I realized the drill itself had its own built in leadership module.
I am so looking forward to the last few weeks of Defense Academy to wrap up a wonderful 10 weeks of building Women Warriors!
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