Here are 6 ways you might not have considered to ensure team success in softball. It is not uncommon for teams to begin strong at the beginning of the season and then perform mediocre by the time the most important competition arrives. This is known to happen due to fatigue and overtraining. This refers to relative training which is everything about the game. The practices, the games and any other activity that happen around the game. Older teams are not as affected by a big schedule however younger teams should not be spending every day at the park.
There is a way however to ensure that your team is as energized and eager to go at the end of the season as they were at the beginning. Try these tips this season and let me know how your team feels even in the middle of the season.
6 Ways to Softball Team Success
1. Involve the team in the planning process.
- Everyone has an idea of how the team is going to do, even the players. They talk during the off season and at the beginning of the season. If you listen carefully during training, you will hear them discussing what their team is going to achieve during the season.
- Talk to them about what you feel the team will achieve and see how the players thoughts align. You may be right on target or perhaps you need to make some changes to your plan. Your team will feel like they are a part of the process and will be more committed to executing a plan that you devise together. I found this to be an awesome tool for building a good rapport with my players who had no problem discussing the process with me at any time during the year.
2. Design a schedule that is not too busy with tournaments and training.
- By making sure your team is getting enough rest, family time, friends time and play time, you will ensure that they are not overloaded with ball. Yes many will say they are addicted to the game but take a moment and reflect on the previous season, and how the team was interacting with each other and the energy levels they had.
- A break from eachother is not a bad thing.
3. Keep the skills within the skill level
- It is tempting to introduce complex skills because you see another team that is using it in their game. How well do they use it though and how does their abilities to execute the skills or strategies affect their fundamental skills. Fundamentals are the most important skill and will win games for you when it counts.
4. Monitor the teams progress
- there are numerous ways to keep track of how your players are doing with their skills. You can even devise your own charts and graphs that reflect the skills and performance factors that you feel are important to your team. Everyone will have a different focus that is individual to your players current abilities technically, physically, mentally and emotionally. Find out what those are and see how they move through the season.
5. Incorporate mental training
- Anxiety and stress can be as fatiguing as physical training. A player who is experiencing difficulty with her game as I am sure you know, will be her own worst enemy. A player who is overly confident however can also have the same negative effects on her performance through a lack of willingness to learn and to improve.
- Start this process early so that the team has time to practice the skills through the season in a variety of situations. It is not enough to bring out an exercise or have them try relaxing 2 weeks before the championships because “now” we need to get serious.
- Mental training is a skill as is throwing and hitting. A team who is familiar with these skills will find themselves using them without even noticing as they become a part of their game strategy.
- I remember a coach telling me that when his team played my team in the championships, even though his team was far more skilled than mine he was concerned. He told his assistant coach… “We have a problem here…… they BELIEVE they can win.” We did play them well and did almost win that game.
6. Check in with your team
- It is a good idea to check in with your team through the season. Check in just before the season starts, then around the middle of the season and then a few weeks before the big championships.
- the reason I say a few weeks before the main competition is because you want to have time in case there is anything that you might need to assist a player with while you have time. There is nothing more difficult than spending the last few days before the championship tournament trying to work something out that could have been done prior. You want to be spending that time reassuring yourself and the team that you are as prepared as you can be and just need to enjoy the process.
If you can make the process more into a collaboration with your team, you will work together to achieve success. By having a plan and following through with it, you and your team are less likely to feel the stress of performance anxiety. Your players will enjoy the process and will be ready to perform to their potential at that moment. There is nothing more rewarding than watching your team seriously having fun.