Practice Makes Perfect??? - written by Coach Mark (5:30 - 7:00pm groups)
“Practice Makes Perfect”. We hear it all of the time. Whether it’s Sports, or Musical Instruments, Painting, or Cooking. It is one of those phrases that are thrown around in an attempt to push someone to be better by doing something over and over……...and over again. But, if you step back and think about it, take a really close look, the game of softball and baseball will NEVER be perfect. The game is set up around failure. In the long history of baseball the best hitter in the Major Leagues had only a .406 batting average. That means he FAILED to get a hit 60% of the time! In school a 40% would = an F. A pitcher who hurls a perfect game, I am willing to bet, was far from perfect. IF he was perfect it would have been all strikes and no balls along with the no hits. Both of those examples are fantastic performances and nothing to scoff at, but what I am truly getting at is simple. DON’T STRIVE FOR PERFECTION, STRIVE TO CONTINUOUSLY GET BETTER!!
Continuous Improvement is what every ball player should strive for. There is no such thing as a perfect player, or person for that matter. I mentioned to the girls in my Defense Academy groups last night, after mixing in new drills and skills, that it is OK to stumble with new things. It’s part of the game!! Take what the game gives you, learn from it, and find a way to improve upon the previous outcomes. Every single player I have ever coached in my 15 years has had something to improve on. It is our jobs as coaches to find those things, become better coaches by finding the drills necessary to help the player fix those things……...then move onto the next thing to fix. In fact, every coach should strive for Continuous Improvement as well!! Example: Last week I helped Coach Amber with one of her Defense groups. She has a different angle on developing skills than I have historically done. BUT I learned something by helping her and seeing how the drills she was using impacted the players. So, this week I modified a couple of those drills to meet the ages of my girls, and integrated them into the things we were already working on. I learned something new and improved upon what we were working on……
So, with that I say, practice does NOT make perfect. BUT, continuing to improve and then moving onto the next thing to improve will make for a better player because the game of softball cannot be perfected.
Group 1 - Another new friend came to work out last night. She was nervous and was a bit emotional. BUT the other girls all came in and showed true teamwork, lifted her up, and got her engaged. We had a great night!! Worked with the flat gloves, a new drill rolling the ball to each other to focus on eye/hand coordination, and learned how to “Show the Secret” when we throw. GREAT JOB LADIES
Group 2 - We also introduces “Show The Secret” form when throwing. We did more flat glove work and also started the ball rolling drill to begin the foundation of not only watching the ball in but integrating the proper throwing posture. As if that wasn’t enough, we started working on the drop-step!! A lot of new things but you all worked hard and are doing great!!
Competitive Learning: Give & Receive- written by Coach Amber (7:00pm - 8:45pm)
Seems a bit ironic that the the more we coach the harder the job can become. It is a testament to the learning styles of our youth today. The world is different for them. Our education system revolves around technology and lacks the kinesthetic problem solving elbow grease it once had. Our kids are geniuses and could probably solve world peace at the click of a button. But in the world of physical sports, there is not technology that they can use to problem solve. We need to adapt! Coaches need to tap into the learning styles of our youth to get the best out of them.
And Coaches, we need to be open to learning as well. Drills are drills and stand the testament of time but the articulation of drills can fall short in interpretation from our youth cohorts. Just as we expect our team to learn and grow, we must also hold ourselves accountable to do the same. Attend a coaches clinic, listen to a podcast, reach out to area college coaches and request a chat.
Coaches- Competitive Learning drives success
While attending the NFCA coaching clinic in December, there was one phrase that hit me to the core. “COMPETITIVE LEARNING”, create a team culture of competitive learning. Learning something new or achieving a task that once seemed daunting can lead to infectious success. WOW what a statement.
Often times team practices can turn into monotonous drill time. Kids can lack passion, effort, and can quickly drift into bad habit zone. Fix this by turning your drills into learning competitions. Find a weakness and figure out a way to jazz up a drill you already do in practice. After 3 weeks, I started to see how our “dailies” were slumping off into bad habit zone. The kids could articulate what they were doing wrong but couldn’t seem to make the adjustment towards achieving proper technique.
Time to ramp up and instill some competitive learning. We took our daily drills and added visual aids to reinforce proper technique. Coaches remember in order to maximize effective skill progressions through catering to your athlete’s learning style! Many of our kids today are visual learners so figure out a way to bring that into practice!
You can think of a million little things that will inspire the kids! In the end, this will breed self driven team skill progression. Kids will know exactly what to work on, how to work on it, and define success. Basically you have just created mini coaches!
We took the pitching plates and used as visual aides. Kids had to start in athletic position and push through the red zone before transitioning the ball into a throwing stance. Remember to move the plate for forehands and backhands and continue to push through the zone to enforce skill progression. We worked in partners and rolled the balls towards our partners. This drill set us up for later group succession when we convened and hit balls to the kids.
Here’s the break down and visual:
LEADERSHIP LESSON OF THE WEEK - Give & Receive
A few weeks ago I gave the kids a homework assignment. It is easy for them to say what they “want or need” but they have a hard to time understanding what they will “give & receive” in order to achieve the goal.
So they were sent home with “TRUTH CARDS”. The assignment was simple
The purpose and intent of this lesson was self assessment as well as engaging our teammates to understand the “gives and receives” of success.
Exchange a card with a teammate- if the team mate sees you are having a bad day, not engaged, or falling into bad patterns; she will use the truth card to fire you back up! This is an easy and fun way for kids to start developing deeper mentally driven relationships with each other. Call it code words, buzz words, whatever you like. These phrases are meaningful to the recipient and openly sharing your strengths and weaknesses with your team can hold you all accountable for keeping the ship afloat.
I can’t wait to see the kids start to use these phrases in the coming weeks!