Category Archives: Coaching

There’s No Sorry in Softball

A parent passed along this great article and I wanted to share!

There’s No Sorry in Softball by Ken Krause Life in the Fastpitch Lane

If there’s one word I never want to hear on a softball field or during a practice it’s the s-word. No, not that s-word, although I’m not too thrilled about that one either. I’m talking about the word “sorry.”

You see, fastpitch softball is a game built on failure. It’s the only sport where you can fail seven out of 10 times and still be considered an All Star. (For those not familiar with the math, hitting a pitched ball three out of 10 times gives you a .300 batting average, which makes you All Star material.

Where it seems to come up the most, though, is when I’m giving a pitching lesson. The pitcher will throw a ball into the dirt in the right hand batter’s box, and right away she’ll say “sorry” to the catcher.

When I hear that I will usually stop the lesson right there and ask why she is saying “sorry.” Did she try to throw the ball there and then think better of it afterwards? Of course not. It just happened. So why is she sorry?

No one ever improved in this game by being careful. When you’re practicing you need to be free to make mistakes, to get out on the edge and see what you can really do. A “sorry” mentality means you’re more interested in pleasing others than getting better, and that’s no way to approach practicing.

When I hear the s-word I will tell the pitcher she shouldn’t be saying “sorry,” and if I hear it again she’ll owe me five pushups right then and there. It’s said with good humor, not to be mean, but I do make them do the pushups.

Softball is hard enough to learn without having the need to apologize for mistakes hanging over your head. That’s what practice is for. If the pitcher throws a pitch when the catcher’s not looking, then it’s ok to say “sorry.” Short of that, the word shouldn’t be in the pitcher’s vocabulary. Besides, saying “sorry” is a way of excusing the behavior, and I don’t want it excused. I want the pitcher to figure out why it happened so it doesn’t happen again.

Take the worry “sorry” out of your players’ vocabulary so they can stay positive and learn. You’ll find it works a lot better in the long run.

Girls vs. Boys

I was talking to a male coach a while back about coaching his daughter’s softball team. He coached boys baseball for over 20 years, and was having a little bit of difficulty trying to “figure those girls out.”

I laughed as I looked over at the team stretching in a circle. They were giggling and gabbing about school. Some were even chasing each other and playing – not worried at all about the warm up. Oh, and did I mention his daughter was 13? Yes – the tweens – such a great age for a young lady!

I explained to him that the social aspect of a team sport is often more important to some girls than how well they play or even the amount of playing time they receive. Dads are probably shocked at this, while Moms – you probably get it, right? Men are Mars, Women are from Venus. It’s just how we’re built.

The fundamental difference is this (and pardon the grammar): Boys play good to feel good. Girls have to feel good to play good.

For these girls, being on a softball team means immediate friends. Socializing with their team brings out a sense of belonging, camaraderie and support that gives them the confidence to play their heart out on the field.

For parents and coaches, you have to find a balance between allowing them to chit-chat during a warm up while actually getting them stretched and ready for the game. I recommend this: be up front and honest with them. Explain that you’ll allow some talking, but if they get out of hand – silent time. And if that doesn’t work – make them run. That will definitely quiet them down.

Also take into consideration their skill level. For more experienced players on a select travel team, expect more out them – meaning more discipline. For rec teams, let them gab away. They’re out there to have a good time.

Happy New Year!

The beginning of the year is the best time to dust off the glove and cleats and start getting your arm in a circle! And you’ll be happy you did. On opening day in February or March, you’ll be ready to shut down the other team, while other pitchers are just getting started.

Start practicing now!

Want to take it to another level? Set up a (realistic) weekly pitching schedule along with goals. If you’re interested, I have some worksheets to help you with this. Just send me an email, call me, or write a comment below.

Positive Coaching

A parent recently passed along to me this great article about the power of positive coaching in youth sports. Positive Coaching Alliance, a modest sized organization is highlighted in the article. P.A.C. is working to spread the message that youth sports is about giving young athletes a positive, character-building experience ― not to become major league athletes, but to become “major league people.”

For me, coaching isn’t just about teaching the fundamentals and mechanics of fastpitch softball. It’s about building confidence in young girls. It’s about allowing them to make mistakes and do something better the next pitch. It’s about them building long-lasting friendships with their teammates. And it’s about teaching them how to win and lose gracefully.

“People often think that youth sports is simple, but it’s actually very complex,” says founder of Positive Coaching Alliance Jim Thompson. “The symbolism of sports is so powerful.”

“He came up with the ‘ELM Tree of Mastery’ to help coaches remember that the feedback that most helps young athletes develop their potential is not praise for good performance or criticism for bad performance.What works best is helping children understand that they control three key variables: their level of Effort, whether they Learn from experiences, and how they respond to Mistakes.”

This is so important. In fact, my currents students often hear me say, “Control the controllables!” I’ll say, “Can you control the umpire? Can you control your teammates? Can you control the rude cheers the other team yells from their dugout?” No. But you can control how you present yourself on the mound, how you talk to your teammates, and how you react after a terrible call.

Here is part two of the article. Enjoy!