What is a softball success planning in your specific competitive situation? We generally hear about Periodization and Annual Training Plans when we are considering coaching a highly elite team, or are required to create one as a part of educational training. The Annual plan can be as detailed or as simple as you need it to be depending on the requirements of your team. That is the beauty of this tool which helps to prevent those moments where you are trying to figure out what to do for your practice or how to plan your upcoming game or tournament.
Softball Success Planning
Periodization or annual planning is an undervalued tool that has the potential to not only ensure that your team is playing at their potential, but also to take the stress away from your season as a coach or manager. Planning allows you to focus on the process, which will guarantee improvement of your team in all facets of the game as you approach the important competitions.
All plans should contain even a some level of physical, mental, and technical tactical activities. The size and how complex the plan is, will depend on the age and level of your team. An 8 year old team will likely be at the recreational level of softball just as an adult team who plays in the local league. This level of planning for adults will require less intensity and more of a management role such as making sure that you will have enough players for every game and that all players will have the opportunity to improve if they desire. A youth recreational team plan will focus more on fundamental skills, learning the game and introductory mental training skills as you strive to be better at the end of the season than at the beginning.
Softball Planning For Elite Teams
This planning is most times very detailed and has a specific process which might even use specialized resources such as message therapists, a dedicated sport psychologist or strength and conditioning experts. You may see your athletes up to five times per week or more and are working with a high level of performance expectations.
Your planning will have segments of your season broken down even further to general preparation phase, specific preparation phase, pre-competition phase, general competition phase, main competition phase, and then your transition phase. When you consider the number of sub phases in your plan, you can see the level of involvement and complexity. You will likely work closely with energy systems and strength and power for your physical components and advanced mental and technical / tactical skills as you focus in preparation for the best performance possible during your main competition phase.
Hours of work will go into the building of such a plan, however the future modifications to the plan will be less time consuming as the status and structure of your actual players on the team would be the only fluid factors from season to season. A truly beneficial Annual Training Plan will be designed to progressively develop your athletes as they arrive at their peak performance in their softball career.
Softball Planning For Pre-Elite Teams
This planning is about building the foundation of an elite program in preparation for more advanced physical, mental and technical skills. The goal in this group is to prepare athletes for the potential stresses and expectations that can accompany playing at a higher level. Mental training skills might be introduced with the intent of moving to more advanced skills and technical and tactical skills might be more advanced already.
Your planning will have the same break down as elite teams, however the amount of dedication and levels of volume and intensity would not be quite as high. This is a gradual progression from recreational or participation level to college level preparedness and commitment.
This is where many athletes will learn if they are mentally and physically capable of the requirements of elite softball. If planning is done correctly at this level, the impact will not be overwhelming and the transition to elite competition will be effortless. This is the way to keep softball players in this sport. Too often this level of athlete is trained like an elite athlete causing fatigue, burnout and in the end, dropout.
Softball Success Planning For Recreational / Participation Teams
Annual planning is rarely used for these softball teams. For this reason, practices and games are often planned from game to game or practice to practice and are designed on the way to the field. By using an annual plan, you can first plan your goals for the season and then you can plan your practices and games around those goals with check points along the way.
The most important thing we want for recreational athletes is that they enjoy this great game. You can plan this enjoyment by ensuring that your annual plan is about improvement of skills and providing opportunities for growth and building team culture. You would be amazed at how something as easy as improving skills and knowledge of the game will lead to success and a high return rate.
Planning for success is successfully planning. Ensure that practices and games have a purpose that contributes to short and long term success goals. Do not be afraid to make changes through the season if you do not see the team advancing as you had planned. Also do not forget to consider your role as a coach. You are the director and provide tools and resources in the form of drills and teaching materials for your athletes.
Be sure to check next time when I talk about when the planning begins and how adjustments are made and when.