Different Is A Good Thing- written by Coach Mark (5:30pm - 7:00pm)
New things are scary period. It doesn’t matter if you are 8 or 48 new things can make a person nervous; a new job, a new house, a new school or a new team. It is human nature to be emotional when facing something new. Let’s think about this in the realm of softball (or any team sport for that matter).
Every player on a team is different, and as a coach that is awesome. 12 players who do/act/think exactly the same can create an environment of complacency. But for many players being different is not so awesome. Some players are fast and can run bases like a race car while others are strong and hit the ball a country mile. Some have strong arms while others don’t. This is the case EVERYWHERE…….even on major league baseball teams everyone is different and has abilities that are better than others. What we need to embrace is -IT IS OK TO BE DIFFERENT! Great teams are a mix of players with abilities that are different but, when combined, do amazing things.
As we begin our short 10 week journey together learning the world of softball defense the biggest thing that we all need to remember is that every single player has a different level of experience. Our goal, as coaches, is to make these players better than they were then when we started. Players that have an easier time at a certain drill will be encouraged to help those who have to work a little harder…...that creates leadership…….and also creates teamwork! As parents we need to continue to be positive reinforcements for what these young ladies are doing every week.
It’s not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.
Emotions are going to flow freely every week. Some will be excitement, joy, and even frustration and some tears…….IT IS OK!! As a coach it is our job to help ease the frustration and tears, and mold them into positivist and motivation.
As I told a couple of players in our first session who showed frustration. Carry yourself with PRIDE, POISE, and most importantly, CONFIDENCE. Your teammates will help with the rest, because that is what they do, work together.
Have a great week, I can’t wait to see you all next week, and remember……….
DEFENSE WINS BALL GAMES!!!
The Key to Success is You- written by Coach Amber (7pm - 9:00pm)
We kicked off week 1 by introducing routine drills and expectations moving forward. Our older groups will explore building mechanics through isolation drills while also balancing leadership development. Each week we will build our skill set through adding upon our isolation drills with challenging movements and standard equipment.
Coaches- set the tone by establishing a DAILY ROUTINE.
Kids should show up to practice and WORK. Developing a "daily routine" can help create an effective and efficient work environment. Week 1 was spent on teaching what our daily warm up would like in order to engage our muscles and start creating good muscle memory/habits moving forward.
Each week kids will spend no more than 2 minutes on each drill as a warm-up. This action will engage our brain to be focused and on point. Do you feel like a broken record during practice? Saying the same thing OVER AND OVER? This is because we haven't allowed our brains time to create good muscle memory. We need to isolate basic movements and give them time to develop proper muscle memory. No longer will you spend 30 minutes reteaching or reexplaining simple mistakes during practice- you can now move on to challenging drills and live action play with the time you are saving!
Spend the time to teach and establish this routine from the beginning. These drills should take no more than 5 to 8 minutes of practice time. Our dailies for Defense clinic are shown below:
- Glove control: getting into athletic position, with glove OUT FRONT, and eyes behind our glove
- Footwork: approach to athletic position
- Body Balance: engaging our legs / body posture for proper throwing mechanics that will provide power, accuracy, and stamina in the long run
Add these into your pre-practice warm-up of dynamic stretches and throwing progressions. Within the first 15 minutes of practice you have now fully warmed up your muscles, engaged your brain, and created a focused and ready to compete athlete.
- EMPOWER YOUR PLAYERS TO SPEAK
This probably sounds like a crazy idea but I'm telling you it is the KEY TO UNLOCKING powerful, competitive, and more engaged teams. Create a culture of self assessment, team engagement, and accountability by allowing your players to take the lead.
Kids should be empowered and confident to speak up when things are good and bad. They should feel comfortable with asking questions, calling out errors, and shouting out praises. Teach them how to do this in a positive tone and confident manner.
1. Work drills in partner stations - routinely ask kids if their partner was doing the drill correctly as described. If not, ask them if they told their partner they were doing it wrong. Did they help them correct it- why or why not? This exercise in "call-out" errors will help them feel comfortable in "coaching each other". Coaches can't be in all places at once, having trust in our players to act as "kid coaches" can ensure teachings are being done properly.
2. Circle up time- at the end of each drill or at the end of each practice, circle up together and ask them to "call-out" 3 things that we need to improve on and "shout-out" 3 things we did well. ACCOUNTABILITY and self assessment is the name of the game. Put the power in their hands. Before you know it, they will be coming to you with practice ideas for areas of improvement. EMBRACE IT - let them take the lead. When kids feel like they are part of the process, you can begin to unlock their inner warrior.
We began this during our week 1 walk through and it was a struggle. However at the end of the 45 minute session, KIDS WERE TALKING. It was surprisingly easy for them once they had the confidence to speak up. It was a beautiful sight to witness kids taking accountability for their mistakes while also balancing teaching the drill to others.
LEADERSHIP LESSON OF THE WEEK - What is the Key to success?
We introduced the idea of "Success"
- What does it mean?
- How do we define it?
Homework was assigned and will be discussed next week during "journal time"
COACHES- introduce MENTAL conditioning to your practice plans.
We often focus on the physical skill development of the athlete but fail to develop the mental side of the game. Coach Mark's weekly note addresses emotion. What a fitting topic! If you want your players to be gritty, determined, and keep their head in the games at all times; ask yourself this- DID YOU GO OVER THAT AT PRACTICE? Do not expect your kids to know "how" to do something to your expectation level if you didn't teach it.
- Read a quote a practice,
- Read a book,
- Listen to a podcast,
- Pass out "incentives" ( This week the kids received a key with the letter "U": the Key to success is U!)
- Go over Batter's box routines
Mental conditioning does not have to be extravagant. Start small, start simple, but START SOMEWHERE.