My biggest pet peeve in the technical skills of this game is the number of “experts” that are teaching our athletes about …. 20 different ways to do 1 thing. This creates Paralysis by analysis. The worst is when young softball players are going to different hitting coaches and fielding coaches and pitching coaches and getting different theories on how to execute the skill and are then sent out onto the field to play with their coach giving them even different information. Does that sound confusing to you?? I would think it would be.
I am sort of a sports purist and believe very strongly in the science of softball. Using the biomechanical principles of softball, there is actually only 1 way to most effectively utilize your body to maximize the power that you put on the ball with the bat. Did that make sense? Yes there are different ways of doing things and everyone has their own idiosyncrasies for execution, and coaches need to take that into consideration. The example I use though is that if everyone batted like Ricky Henderson the very successful major league baseball player, I would bet a dollar that the success rate would definitely not be the same.
That said. What needs to happen I believe with softball players is that when you are 13 and over, it is a matter of refining the batting success by taking the strong points and building on them. According the the Long Term Player Development Model, the most ideal time for skill acquisition is between the ages of 9 and 12. That doesn’t mean that skills cannot be learned, however the ability to retain the amount of information relating to a specific skill
My motto is the less runs you allow the opponents to score, the less runs you need to score in response. I am a huge believer in minimizing the opponents offense through sound defensive skills which incorporate sound mental training strategies. I always told my athletes that when you get to the big game and your skills are comparable to your opponents, its the mental training skills that are going to make the difference.
Those I have coached will be familiar with:
The 3 c approach
- Calm – keeping the anxiety level down and not panicking
- Cool – maintaining the all important composure
- Collective – staying focused on the task at hand
Using these tactics, skill execution can be smooth and without fear. The skills that can be most hurt by not using the tactics is the defensive skills. How many times has a routine ground ball got by you because you looked at the go ahead runner at 3rd base with 2 out.