I assist with a coach who has won many High School Coach of the Year awards in multiple conferences and he makes a point to his teams that is worth repeating, he points out to his players that each day has 24 hours and your waking day is roughly 16 of those hours and over a 7 day period that equals 112 total hours. He then proceeds to discuss the length of his daily softball practice plans and points out to the team that 2 and half hours of practice 5 days a week equals 12 and a half hours a week or only 11% of your week. He then asks "are you willing to invest a minimum of 11% of your time to improve yourself?" yes, it helps that he is also a math teacher, but I digress, however again you get my point. Whether you're working on your softball game or studying for a test you have to allow the appropriate time to insure the best results.
The Fastpitch Softball Field
Where's your focus when you walk onto the fastpitch softball field? Are you thinking about what your friend posted on MySpace or Facebook? Are you thinking I can't wait to see so and so today to find out how her date went with Bobby last night? Are you thinking my boyfriend is a schmuck and he's ruined my day? This list can go on for this entire post, but these are just a few examples of where we've seen some kids heads as they come into softball practice. Our question is this; "Is this what you really want to be focused on for the next 2 and a half hours or is it softball?"
It's been said that if you practice hard the games become easy, but can you really practice hard if your mind is elsewhere? When you walk onto the practice softball field draw an imaginary line as you step onto the field, as you cross that imaginary line block out all other distractions that will take you away from the task at hand, which is improving your fastpitch softball play. While at practice give 100% focus to the detail of the station in which you are working, if it's taking ground balls and you have a tendency to stab at the ball with your glove, focus in and starting with the fingertips of your glove resting on the ground, if it's working on running through fly balls to make a strong throw, practice on taking better routes to the ball so that you can perform that task, if it's hitting the ball to the opposite field focus in on that, trust me, so and so can tell you about her date with Bobby on Myspace or facebook and agree that your boyfriend is a schmuck after practice, which you know will happen anyway. When you're on the field focus in on improving your fastpitch softball skills and the game will reward you!
How's Your Attitude on the Fastpitch Softball Practice field
Another old saying is "you get out what you put in" yet some of us think that by just showing up and going through the motions we deserve more. Let me put this in real terms, imagine you take your allowance to the bank and you deposit $100, now let's say that you did this on a Monday, on Tuesday you show up to the bank walk in, stand around for a few minutes and leave, you do this again Wednesday and Thursday, show up at the bank walk around for a few minutes, smile at the bank tellers and leave, then on Friday you show up and ask to take out $200 what would they say? We're sorry you only have $100 in your account, you can't take out more than you put in.
This holds true for your fastpitch softball performance as well, practicing hard on one day then just showing up smiling and going through the motions on the other days will not improve your fastpitch softball skills, the only way to improve your softball skills is to make regular deposits into your softball performance and while you or even your parents want to say "she plays better than she practices" the coach like the bank teller will and should reply "you only get out what you put in!"
Don't be afraid to make mistakes at practice
Softball practice is where you improve, this is where your fastpitch softball training takes shape, like I said earlier practicing hard will make the games easier. All too often we see a player who (let's be nice here) only puts in a practice deposit every so often, but has greater expectations of her ability and playing time. Then one day at practice she's working with her position coach on some fundamental softball drills and she's making more mistakes then her other teammates, but rather than continuing to work harder on those drills and dial up the focus she steps back and puts on her Patty pout face, immediately she begins to look for another player who maybe having similar struggles and they begin to only focus in on the ensuing pity party that they are hosting. While this can't be accepted and won't be accepted at higher levels of fastpitch softball play it has the potential to happen at every practice and at every level to varying degrees.
Practice is the place to make your mistakes, to recognize those mistakes and to work on the fastpitch softball drills that will minimize those mistakes in the future. Practice is the place to ask your coach for assistance, to ask where you can improve and not be offended when they give you their answer. Practice is the place where the better coaches encourage their players and critique them with honesty and provide direction that will allow improvement. Fastpitch softball practice are where expectations are set for each individual and the team has a whole, if you want to improve your fastpitch softball play take heart to what you do at practice and when the day is over and walk off the softball field crossing that imaginary line back into your everyday world ask yourself "did I give me my all today?" If you answer yes, feel good about yourself and know that you just improved your individual Fastpitch Softball skills