Hit the Back of the Cage? I Don’t Think So

Emma cage at contact

This isn’t actually the topic I’d planned on writing about today, but an email hit my mailbox this morning that I thought was worth sharing. Especially since many of us have moved inside for the winter.

The author was Mike Ryan of Fastball USA, a facility and program located within fairly easy driving distance of my house. I don’t really know Mike, but I definitely know his brother Pat (shout out, dude) who used to coach for their softball program and has raised some pretty darned good fastpitch ballplayers himself.

Anyway, Mike’s email was talking about how deceiving a batting cage can be when judging the success of hits. Here’s an excerpt from the email:

Most balls hit on a line drive in a cage are actually ground balls.  

You need to aware of this, otherwise you will look like a powerful

hitter in the cage, and go outside and be a ground ball machine.

👉For example, in our batting cage at Fastball USA we figured out when the L screen is 35 feet away, a ball that hits the top of the screen is roughly at a 8-10 degree launch angle. 10 degrees if it makes it over.

Most hits in MLB happen between a 10-30 degree launch angle.

So common sense tells us, any ball flight below the top of the L screen produces a ground ball in a game.  

We also figured out that if a player hit a ball to the top of the net directly over our L screen it was roughly a 20 degree launch angle.


I’m so glad to hear someone else say this. Fastpitch softball still seems to labor under some old beliefs about hitting, including the idea that a batted ball that hits the top of the cage instead of the back is bad.

In fact, I know players who have been dinged/yelled at/cajoled or whatever because their hits were going to the top of the cage toward the back. While I appreciate Mike doing the math to confirm it (evidence is always good) I don’t think you have to be a geometry expert to figure out that a hard-hit ball that hits the top of the net at around 40-50 feet is pretty likely to travel the distance needed to make it close to or over a fence 200 to 220 feet away from home. Or even less if you’re on a shorter field.

Balls going over the fence are good things because, well, they’re really hard to defend.  And they produce runs – as many as 4 with one hit.

Which means that if you’re rewarding hitters for hitting the back of the net (even if it’s low) and punishing them for hitting the top, you’re not making your team better. You’re actually killing your ability to score runs and win games.

Ok, that’s the long ones. But what about the balls that are only up to or even a little in front of that screen set at 35 feet?

Surely those must result in can of corn fly balls? Here’s what Mike had to say about that (and I know, don’t call you Shirley):

If the ball hits the top of the net about 5 feet in front of the screen you’re on about a 30 degree launch angle.

Remember that most MLB hits top out at 30 degrees, so you’re still in great shape. He then goes on to say that the lowest you want to hit the ball is the top of the L screen, and the highest is about 5 feet in front.

Of course, if you have your screen set closer to simulate faster pitching (as I usually do) that visual will change. But if you mark off roughly where 30 feet is in the cage you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether that contact was going to be an extra-base hit or an easy out.

So there you go. If you have a girl consistently hitting the top of the net 30-50 out, don’t punish her. Encourage her. She could wind up being a big bat for you next season.

By the way, if you want to see more from Mike, he posts at the Baseball Education Center. This particular article isn’t up there yet but I imagine it will be at some point. 

I got on his mailing list through Paul Reddick Baseball, so I imagine if you sign up for Paul’s emails you’ll start getting Mike’s too. (I didn’t see any direct way to sign up with Mike; maybe Mike can comment on how to get more info from him directly.) 

Mike’s stuff is oriented toward baseball and boys, but as we all know a swing is a swing so lots of value there for the parents and coaches of fastpitch softball players. 


50 Softball Christmas Gifts that are ACTUALLY USEFUL (2019)

50 Softball Christmas Gifts that are useful and cool

Seasons greetings!! It’s that time of the year again where you have to think about the perfect softball Christmas gifts for your softball fanatic friends and family. Coming up with softball gift ideas can be quite strenuous. Well not to worry, I will be giving you a lot of choices to pick from and why these choices are recommended.


Softball glass display caseThis clear beauty would protect and also set on display your special autographed/memorable softball. Enforced with authentic UV Protected glass and original wood molding, this case preserves the protect and displays your autographed softball. This case is designed for durability in mind as it is made with non-acidic adhesives to preserve the signature, protect the softball from external forces and also lasts for a long period of time. This case comes along with two acrylic bat holsters to hold your softball bat in position.

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Softball and baseball wall rack

Softball and baseball wall rack

Made out of solid, quality hardwood, this wall rack is designed to be a perfect display case for a softball collection. Serving as a protective covering from dust and fingers, it is far more convenient than having numerous softball cases with nowhere to keep them. It also comes with an installed lock with keys for privacy and personalization and a bottom to the top opening. This wall rack holds a whopping 14 softballs. Dimension 21″W X 19.5″H X 4.75 (outside). Interior depth of4.25″ and height of 3.75″, this wall rack would serve as the perfect gift especially to a collector.

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Softball Glove Ball Holder Trophy

This piece comes in the form of an award and also very attractive to put in a case of trophies. Have that friend who has put so much effort into softball this season? Getting this as a Christmas present is sure to light a spark. It could also go out to each player in a team at the end of the season so everyone feels like an MVP. This 6″ tall cast trophy comes with a free engraving plate where you can include a personalized message, acknowledgment or appreciation with 3 lines of engraving and a maximum of 30 characters

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Softball hoodie for women

Softball hoodie for womenHave that female fan that’s crazy about softball? Or you want to surprise your guy who loves softball and you just need that softball Christmas idea? Or for your fangirls, you take along to enjoy a good softball game? This customized hoodie imprinted with the words I love softball is a perfect gift to mark the season. With an outstanding fabric quality 50% cotton 50% polyester and 50% cozy fleece fabric this hoodie is comfortable, fitted to size, machine washable, it is guaranteed to keep you warm, comfortable during the winter and at the same time a loving fan.

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Softball socks for Christmas

softball socks for christmas

Along with the season comes cold chilly weather. Well not for the snowman on the front porch. This 9 pair knee-high sock will be a nice and thoughtful Christmas present. Accompanied with a gift box so neatly packaged inside, thereby making wrapping a whole lot easier and presentable. Made of 73% Cotton, 24% Polyester and 3% Spandex, this material provides comfort, style, and beauty all in one packaged tidy box.

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Softball ornaments for Christmas tree

softball ornaments for christmas tree

What other way to show your love for softball during this festive season than featuring it on your Christmas tree. Ornaments are hand-painted and beautiful creations that add color and life to decorations. Softball Christmas tree ornaments are not far fetched in the search of beautiful designs and will also stand out from the regular jingle bells and plain ball ornaments we see every year. This particular ornament has a dimension of 3.5 × 2 × 1.5 inches

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Christmas Softball Ornament with Crystal Softball Charm

softball christmas gifts-ornaments

Ok so we’ve been talking about including softball ornaments into our Christmas decorations but these right here just takes it to a whole new level. Already packaged attractively in a velvet bag with a drawstring closure, this 2.5-inch ornament is crafted from white metal with a silver finish and a stylish hanging loop that sings quality and beauty all over, this ornament requires no extra wrapping as it stands as a package on its own. Talking about quality, it is made out of metal material unlike other fragile ornaments and will not be damaged in transit. The perfect present! A softball Christmas gift.

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softball infinity charm bracelet

Softball Jewelry – Perfect Softball Player, Team and Coaches Gifts

This comes in 40 different colors and is the perfect gift for a team. This nice-looking bracelet can be worn by a group of friends to a softball game, it can also go into a group of teenagers supporting the same team. With a unique design that goes with majorly every outfit and at the same time standing out without clashing with fashion sense, it is a nice choice for the season, could even be a couples thing. If you’re having issues selecting gifts for a large number of people, the charm bracelet would be a wonderful choice when getting a softball Christmas gift.

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Baseball Softball Make Up, Cosmetics and Toiletries bag
Baseball Softball Make Up, Cosmetics and Toiletries bag

This cute looking portable bag can serve as a makeup bag, cosmetic bag or a safe place for cards and valuables. It can be used to pack up for a softball boot camp or a team night out. It is portable, washable, light, fancy and waterproof, made of durable fabric that protects your valuables from scratches. This beautiful bag is a wonderful gift choice for females.

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Softball tee shirt gift ideas for girls

This T-shirt with love inscribed on it in a funky way tells about the passion of the wearer for softball. Solid colors made of 100% cotton and Heather grey made of  90% cotton, 10% polyester, all other Heather entails an equal ratio of cotton to polyester. Machine wash and also comes in all sizes with double-needle sleeve and bottom hem. It could be gotten for a friend, sister, daughter, niece or mom, it’s bound to look absolutely perfect.

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Softball snowman ornament for Christmas

softball snowman ornament for christmas

This Christmas ornament comes in the form of a three stack baseball with a face cap and a soft glove pad. It will look really nice on a Christmas tree or simply hanging down with the rest of the stockings at the fireplace. With a slash of different colors, this softball Christmas tree ornament is bound to give a colorful part to your Christmas decorations this festive season.

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Softball earringsSo this right here is perfect for a real fan, what better way to show the world your love for softball than two-piece crystal jewelry dangling from your ears, it’s bound to catch a considerable amount of attention. These earrings are unique in design and are quite shiny too. Softball earrings can be gifted to your wife, girlfriend or relative of a player or even a player herself and it’s bound to bring a smile to that face.

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softball gift ideas-tank top


This tank top is of premium quality, made of 98% combed and ring-spun cotton, 2% spandex, machine washable and comfortable fit stretch design that allows for easy movement. It is great for athletic workouts and also looks nice with a denim jacket on top. Available on a variety of sizes and colors.

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Softball Drawstring Bag

Made of polyester material that is easily washable, recyclable and durable, it helps you store things and easily take them out when needed. This could be named out to the team coach softball players at the end of the season. Light, sturdy and comfortable this bag reduces the stress on your shoulders with adjustable shoulder straps. It’s a quite handy thing to have in a gift box.

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christmas softball gift ideas

Designed and embroidered in the USA, this trucker hat is made of high-quality designs that won’t fade or gray compared to its counterparts. Manufactured from 80% cotton and 20% polyester, the worn look just gives the perfect idea of the I fixed trucker style. It also comes with an adjustable Velcro rear tab for a secure fit and a curved bill for protection from the sun.

christmas softball gift ideas


Nike Dri-Fit head tie

This headband is manufactured from 80% polyester and 20% spandex, machine wash with a neat tie finish. Made to lock in sweat and keep you dry and comfortable. Available on different colors and can be worn by both sexes at any social gathering as it is not a deterrent to a fashion outfit.

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softball leggings

Manufactured from 95% combed and ring-spun cotton/5% spandex, this USA made leggings come with ultimate softness and a comfortable stretch and can be worn for any activity. With an elastic waistband and zero outers seem, it creates a stylish streamlined look to your chic style. Not forgetting the exclusive print at the side reminding everyone of your love for softball.

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softball headbands

Headbands are designed to stay put! Slipping off probing around during an activity can get really frustrating. The fabric is made to wick sweat away and is also machine washable. At 2.5 wide, these headbands won’t pull off tangle your hair and the threads are soft and non-abrasive Perfect for yourself or as a gift for your favorite softball player- also great for teams.

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softball necklace

This adorable piece is made of nonirritant material, relieves stiffness in the neck and shoulders and stabilizes the whole body. This triple titanium necklace will have you feeling and looking like a pro, backed up by many professional players and athletes. Setting passion and style on the same page, the softball necklace would blend in with your everyday life with the perfect choice of clothes and will surely male a good gift to a softball female.

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personalize necklace for softball players

Personalize your softball necklace with your very own, chosen jersey number. This necklace features a number charm, silver bat charm and a silver love charm on an 18-inch long chain. Made from pristine pewter and zinc. It was assembled in the USA and offers a closer relationship between you and your team or lucky player number, it could even serve as your good luck charm before going for a game. It is quite a cute gift to give.

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softball tumbler cups

This 30oz stainless steel yellow and red tumbler holds hot and keeps it hot for as long as 12 hours or cold beverages for as long as 24 hours. Equipped with a closable lid and straw hole and an Eco-friendly steel straw and straw cleaners, this tumbler is great for softball practice, driving or on the go. It comes in 30oz and 20oz size and is available in baseball, basketball, softball, music note and soccer prints. These cups are enforced to hold coffee, smoothies, and water. A thoughtful present!

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Softball Zipper Cooler Lunch Bag

This cooler is made from soft neoprene material that keeps drink s and snacks cool for hours. Equipped with a zipper to keep things from falling out, and a stylish look, this lunchbox stands as the perfect lunchbox for kids and also handy for a picnic, a day at the ballpark of even to practice. This surely makes a great gift of the year.

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Softball Wristbands with Motivational Quotes

Softball Wristbands with Motivational Quotes

This pack of a dozen wristbands includes an assortment of 3 unique designs with motivational quotes. They are fun, stylish to wear and also spread a positive message. This could stand as prizes during a hangout or a part of the goodie bag items at the next sports events or softball themed party. You can buy them for your kids’ softball team as a form of encouragement. Each pack contains 12 pieces and 4 of which carry the same message but different from the rest. 75″ wide and 8 inches around will fit most wrist size and they also come in unisex colors. These serve ass motivational and Inspirational souvenirs to boost team spirit.

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Softball Christmas gifts-water bottle

softball christmas gifts-water bottle

This is a 32oz stainless steel vacuum that keeps water cold for 24 hours and warm water for over 12 hours even on the hottest and coldest days.  This tumbler is perfect for winter or summer as it keep any season at all.- This flask water bottle is perfect for softball games, practice, driving or on the go, This flask wide-mouthed water bottle is a great gift for a softball fan of any team. Buy one for yourself and gift one to a friend for their birthday, Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and more.

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Softball Christmas gifts-keychain

softball christmas gifts-keychain

There’s a saying, behind every successful team, there is a coach. Thinking about what to get for him will no longer be a problem as this jewelry comes with a silver plated rhinestone softball charm on the key ring, a thank you message and a key. So if you’re in search of a way to appreciate your softball team coach, this softball jewelry will be the best package to offer.

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The Mug With A Glove (Softball gift ideas)

The Mug With A Glove-softball

This beautifully crafted piece of artwork makes a plate of food look like an award. An oversized 16-ounce mug measures 6.5″  L x 5″ W x 4.5 H, made of ceramic, dishwasher safe and unique design, though proper discipline must be taken when eating as more attention will be focused on the mug than the food.  Something to remind you of softball even while you eat. Beware: only products sold by “Maxi’s creations and Maryland China Company are guaranteed genuine.

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Softball Bat Rack

Softball Bat Rack

This amazing design helps you to organize your scarves, accessories, packaging products, crafts materials and much more. It could be fixed easily everywhere. It helps to beautify your walls and your room and can be stacked with softball and other collectibles. Each bracket has Dimension: 10.60″ and the diameter of each circle is 2.85″. It comes with 2 softball bat racks, wall brackets, mount g screws and zinc anchors. It also comes with an installation manual.

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Softball Christmas gifts-pillow

softball christmas gifts-pillow

Manufactured from an equal ratio of polyester to cotton this fabric selection strictly controls shrinkage and fastness of the fabric, smoothness, and durability. With a size of 20x30inches, it is an inexpensive way to set a place on style. Extremely breathable and hypoallergenic, it prevents bed sweats and reduces facial wrinkles and also prevents knotted hair. Hidden zipper design helps the pillowcase hold the pillow perfectly in position and the longer zipper helps for pillows into pillowcases. With an explicitly unique design still having the touch of a softball, it is a nice gift for a softball loving family.

softball christmas gifts-pillow

Softball Wall Decals

Softball Wall Decal

Use the Softball themed photography letters to spell out a name, favorite song, color of your choice to create a fun personalized gift for a hunter. Perfect for a girl’s room, locker room, college dorm, or anywhere indoors! It can as well be a framed canvas print or a contemporary block mount print. Ships ready to hang with a certificate of authenticity included. It could be gifted to a family to hang for display in their home. Note: photos are not repeated for the same letters (3-11 letters)

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Personalized Softball Name Art

Personalized Softball Name Art

Available in A4, A3, A2, A1, printed in high-quality weather-resistant, glossy paper, farmable and borderless print, this art can sit on any wall and set that wall apart. It can be hanged in the kids’ room or classroom, a nursery, a sports gallery or framed and put at the major center of the home. Packaged with a clear protective sleeve and rolled into a tube to prevent damage in transit, this wall art will be an icon of attention wherever it is hanged. Colors may vary with respect to monitor.

NB: listing is for poster only, frame/mount and accessories are not included.

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Sports Ball Cake Pan

Sports Ball Cake Pan

This four-piece of confectionary goodness can create and barrel-shaped cake your desire. It could be used to make a softball themed cake for a softball themed get together. Includes 2 sets of 6 in Disney half-ball aluminum pans and two metal baking stands. Each pan takes a whopping 2 1/2 cups of batter, it could even be used to create your favorite emoji it planet as a cake

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Softball Purse

Softball Purse

This coin purse brings you the natural feel of your most lived softball game as the presses are made from real ball materials. Measuring about 4 ½” long and 3 ½” wide with a heavy-duty inner liking and secure zipper too protect your items, it can be used for caring about handy small size items and coins. It is also quite portable and can easily fit into backpacks, pockets and other bigger purses.

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Personalized Softball Rose

Personalized Softball Rose


This right here is quite a creative way to bring romance into sports. Handmade from real spitball covers to get an eternal bloom. Personalized softball roses can be customized with a special message of up to 15 characters on every 1 or 2 petals. This is a really sweet way to Mark a special occasion or appreciate the efforts of a special person. It comes in 4 different colors and its artificial stem cannot work or die, it is alongside difficult to distinguish between love stem and the stem of this softball roses. Place then in a case and watch them beautifully the place just like any other rose.

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Softball Wall Decorations

softball gifts ideas

Vinyl wall decorations are a major trend in decorating an apartment or a room. Though removable, wall decals cannot be reused. Available in various colored based on choice. The package also comes with Installation instructions to make it’s setup very easy. As a Christmas gift, this is more peculiar to teenagers as they tend to want to change regularly.

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Softball Popcorn Boxes

Softball Popcorn BoxesDuring the festive season, popcorn is sure to come around. Induce the display of sweet treats into your seasons’ decorations with the colorful grand slam popcorn treat boxes. Measuring about 5.75 inches tall by 3.5 inches square at the top, sold in sets of 12 is the right sized proportion for a sweet tooth snack. This funky boxes help to set a joyous, less formal atmosphere and can also serve as a takeaway pack for each individual. These boxes are custom printed with a heavy-duty satin paper to give a photo-like shine. It’s a signal themed celebration.

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PHOTO CREDIT (Softball Christmas gift)

softball christmas gifts

At this time of the year, pictures are undoubtedly a necessity to add the need to capture happy moments that are high in our spirits. Having a photo album that keeps all of the memories safely tucked in one place is quite the dream. Softball themed albums with 12 x12 inch top-loading page protectors, post bound construction, acid-free is like a dream come true in situations like this. Replacement pages come in a pack of 6 each with post extenders to hold the added pages. What another way to keep your festive memories safe and accessible than with an album less prone to deterioration.

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spin right spinner

The spin is a softball training aid designed to teach the pitching spins and rotation directions in the area of fastpitch softball. From the basics to the advanced spin of the rise, curve or drop. It is an essential tool to have in your arsenal to be able to pitch like pro. Invented by softball Hall-of-Famer Cheri Kempf. Although it was designed for pitchers, coaches use it to learn the fundamentals of overhand throwing, so if you’re looking to learn overhand throwing and pitching this winter, this will be a nice gift to get yourself.

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One of the most advanced equipment where softball is concerned, the xelerator combines the weight and perfect balance of the original xelerator with the superior leather ball to produce the world’s best pitching trainer. It pulls the arm into a perfect position and stores the motion into the body’s muscle memory. This develops a pitching plane that promotes a long arm, perfected love of force. It’s easy to use, allows you to train indoors during the winter season, reduced training time and reduced injuries. So if you have a friend who wants to learn to pitch so bad, this would be a wonderful gift to mark the season.

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Rope Bat

Using the principle of centrifugal force to create bat speed and teach hitters to stay connected by using its entire body throughout the swing. Generally designed in a way that one size fits all. Equipped with an ultimate rope bat, 12 ls, an online 30-page guide, and a sports tote bag, it has a 12-inch grip that allows users to use a 26-inch to a 34-inch real bat and know exactly I where to place their hands.

NB: do not use real baseballs, only softballs, and plastic balls. This could be gotten and used to train by the whole family in preparation for the coming season.

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Softball Display Holder

Equipped with a base to hold the ball in position, this display case is designed to be a regular-sized softball. It can also hold most POP Figures and an endless variety of small collectibles. This display case would be a perfect gift for kids especially if you have a collector on your hands.

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The post 50 Softball Christmas Gifts that are ACTUALLY USEFUL (2019) appeared first on Awesome Softball Drills.

A Sign of the Times for Recreational Softball in Plano

When girl’s recreational softball at the Plano Sports Authority (PSA) plummeted in participation to 300 girls this Fall, the unlit, broken scoreboards stood as towering talismans of failure.

The broken scoreboards are symbolic of the recreational softball program in Plano. They were built years ago, as a sign of hope and commitment. They were, in fact, a labor of love from a PSA Softball board member of the past. They were to have stood as a legacy.

But no one kept them up. No one invested in them. Other leagues have sprung up in the PSAs’ place – offering better programs, better support, and better competition. Local Plano rec teams are packing their bags and going elsewhere. Or worse, recreational players are giving up on the game.

PSA, the indoor goliath of Plano and neighboring cities, continues to seem confounded by the exodus of players. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better without serious investment and complete league overhaul.

The short history goes like this: Before the mega-indoor facilities of the PSA were built, softball had thousands of recreational players in Plano. One City estimate shows over 3000 players. But times changed, and the real money was in indoor sports. PSA priorities changed. Fast-forward to 2019, with 300 players left for Fall softball in a city of over 280,000 residents.

We have a generation of coaches who grew up playing softball in Plano with the PSA. Where will you find them? In other recreational City leagues playing with real rules, functioning scoreboards, practice times, concessions and consistent schedules. They’re simply not afraid to have a competitive rec league; whereas the PSA touts rec softball specifically – and exclusively – as its only non-competitive sport. It strikes me as if fast pitch softball players aren’t considered athletes at the PSA.

Fast pitch softball in 2020, is not the softball of 1970. I mention that because it seems the PSA Board is stuck in the past. A Pre-Title IX past. A pre-Jennie Finch and select-softball-explosion past. The demand is there. A few of us have met with the PSA recently, and offered a real plan that includes a simple parity of rules, investment, game schedules and practices like they offer for their other sports. It’s not radical, but it is designed to fix what is truly broken in the PSA softball game. Can you imagine a basketball game without a scoreboard and game clock? Can you imagine a volleyball game that allows extra players on the court for each team? Welcome to your current PSA fast pitch softball experience.

One last request-

Bring the scoreboards back to life. And watch the girls fast pitch softball leagues in Plano do the same.

Learning to Fix One Issue at a Time

mokup smartphone technology phone

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

One of the best AND worst things to ever happen to fastpitch softball training has to be the ready availability of instructional videos on sources such as YouTube.

It’s one of the best things because it has made a whole world of knowledge available to parents (and coaches) that was never available before. Personally, I think it’s one of the big reasons there is far more parity in the sport than there used to be.

Prior to YouTube, much of the best knowledge was concentrated in Southern California among a small group of coaches. If you were lucky enough to live near one, you received high-level coaching. If you were on the other side of the country, maybe not so much.

But once better information started becoming more available on YouTube (and through the Internet generally), enthusiastic players, parents and coaches were able to learn from the best no matter where they lived. Not saying everyone took advantage of it – there’s still a lot of bad coaching out there – but at least the information became available.

So why do I think it’s also one of the worst things that happened? Because parents and coaches could see how their kids/players looked compared to the examples, and the top-level players, and many became obsessed with trying to get their kids/players to look like the ones they saw on video.

That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing either. But where it became a problem is they wanted to make it happen instantly. So rather than addressing one issue at a time, they started trying to fix everything at once. That is probably the least effective way to learn anything.

What does that mean? Take a pitcher for example. The parent/coach sees the pitcher doesn’t have enough leg drive, so he/she starts working on that. Then he/she notices the arm seems a little stiff. So rather than continuing to focus attention on the leg drive, the pitcher now starts focusing on keeping the arm loose.

Then the parent/coach sees the glove swimming out and… well, you get the idea.

All of those are valid corrections. But it’s difficult, if not impossible to make all of them at once. Or even all in one session.

(DISCLAIMER: I know about this from direct experience because I used to do it too. Probably still do now and then, but I try to catch myself before it gets out of hand.)

A better approach is to set priorities, and then work on those priorities – even if other parts of the skill aren’t up to par. Or even if they are affected by the changes you’re making right now.

The reason is despite all the talk and hype about it, science has shown us that there is no such thing as multitasking. (Sorry all you people who think you’re good at it.)

The human brain can only pay attention to one task at a time. And making corrections to softball mechanics, or anything else for that matter, takes time, no matter how much we wish that wasn’t true.

Enabling players to remain focused on making a single correction, then moving to the next, will produce far better results than trying to fix everything at once.

But what about the discussions on how random practice (doing different things each time) is better than block practice (doing the same thing over and over)? That is true after a certain point, once the player has acquired a certain level of proficiency in the skill. For example, fielding ground balls to the left, right and center, hard and soft without establishing a set pattern will help translate those infield skills to a game better than doing 10 to the left, then 10 to the right, etc. 

But that presumes the player already knows how to field ground balls to the left, center and right, hard and soft. If not, the fielder must first acquire that skill, which is best accomplished through repetition and focus.

Giving players who are learning new skills, or replacing old skills with new ones, an opportunity to focus on one specific piece at a time (and without pressure for overall results, such as pitchers throwing strikes or fielders not making any errors) will create a better foundation and ultimately shorten the learning curve. Then, once the player has reached a certain level of at least conscious competence you can start moving into ensuring all the pieces are working the way they should.

Yes, there is a lot of great information out there (and plenty of bad too). And yes, it would be nice if you could just say things once and your kids/players would grasp it all right away. But that’s not how things work.

Avoid the temptation to “correction jump” (the coaching version of task jumping) and you’ll find you produce better long-term results – with far less frustration for you and your kids/players.


“Put the Best Nine on the Field,” They Say….

“Put the VERY Best nine on the field”, they say
Let the very best players make the play! 
But when it comes to which nine to choose
Everyone has very different views.

Who will catch, who will pitch?
If Sally starts can her and Em switch?
If Meg goes to first, and Lou to 2nd,
Then Babs will have to play short, I reckon. 

But then, the outfield will be quite bare
Because no ones mom wants their daughter out there. 

And if Jordan plays 3rd and Mo’s at first 
Then Lilas dad will have an outburst. 
Then there’s Jo, Mack, Mary and Grace
Where will they play, who goes in which space? 

We have 12 girls that helped get us to the BIG GAME
Choosing the best nine, just seems insane. 

What so many always seem to forget 
Is that it takes more than just 9 to be a threat. 
We need girls to cheer, and girls to play
And girls to come in when their teammate has a bad day.

We may need more than one girl to pitch
If the balls keep landing in the ditch. 
And what happens if someone gets hurt
Who will we call to fill her shirt.

Plus some girls are fast, and some girls bunt 
Some are better at keeping the ball in front. 
One day she’s on, and one day she’s not
We need to have players for every spot. 

And what we did today, took them all to achieve. 
Thinking it just takes nine is my biggest pet peave. 

The bench has to be ready to come in and play
If the girls in the field are not having a good day. 
We take 12 to practice, 12 to the field
Chose 12 for the season to as ONE TEAM yield. 
We win as one, and we lose as one, too
We stick together no matter what we go through. 

So at the end of the day when you ask for the best nine
Forgive me if I have more than that in mind. 
Because each girl was chosen to be on my team
And I believe they are part of one big grand scheme. 

While to you, it may seem it only takes 9 to win
The truth is, it takes the entire team to be kin. 
So no matter where or what position she plays
NO matter who goes out or who in the dugout stays
Where we go one, we go all - win, lose or draw 
And, On MY team it takes all 12 to win it all! 

Treat your Favorite Player for the HOLIDAYS with Shirts for EVERY POSITION! http://www.store.softballisforgirls.com

The post “Put the Best Nine on the Field,” They Say…. appeared first on Softball is for Girls.

Ladies…Would you PLEASE JUST Learn to Freakin’ ADJUST YOURSELF!?

If you have watched the game long enough, you realize pretty quick that softball. like life is a game of adjustments.

CHECK OUT THE NEW POSITION DESIGNS UP FOR THE HOLIDAYS! https://store.softballisforgirls.com/

One thing we notice with prevalence especially among the younger players is that it is their failure to adjust that often leads to bad outcomes.

We have a generation of youngsters that do not want to adjust to things around them, and who think that doing the same thing over and over again, will bring different results. NEWSFLASH. It doesn’t!

If there is one takeaway from softball, or sports in general – it is that every situation requires players to be able to have a lenient mindset. They cannot approach every ground or fly ball, every pitcher they face, every teammate, every coach the same way. They have to remain flexible and willing to BE THE CHANGE they want to see in their game.

In fact, softball takes constant adjustments both offensively and defensively.

There is nothing (and we mean NOTHING) more frustrating than kids who come in the dugout one by one, all complaining and whining that the low drop ball they struck out LOOKING on (for the second time), was NOT a strike, even though they watched their teammates before them strike out on the same pitch.

We got news for you kids. If the umpire is calling it a STRIKE, it’s a strike and you better learn to freaking adjust your mindset and approach at the plate.

And you know what? It’s still a strike even if your parents are complaining behind home plate that it wasn’t. Even if your coach agrees that maybe it was a little low in the zone. Even if your teammates think you were cheated. The bottom line is that YOU have to adjust to the game.

The players have to not only be accountable but responsible FOR adjustments. They have to be given the tools to make decisions during the game that put them in the best position to make the play. They have to be vigilant participants in WATCHING the game and learning everything they can from an opponent while the game is going on.

Life is not going to adjust to us. Life is not going to adjust to our kids. If our kids stand in the batters box, and swing the exact same way every time, just waiting for a ball to magically make contact at the exact spot where they swing, they are going to fail.

One of the best things we can for young athletes is teach them how to adjust. This needs to be done in practice, and coaches need to empower our daughters to make decisions during game situations WITHOUT BEING TOLD.

And moms and dads need to stop making excuses when the kids don’t adjust. When kids fail to recognize ways they can succeed, they need to be asked “Well, what could YOU have done differently?”

Coaches need to start early, asking players that same question.

What could you have done differently when facing that change up? What could you have done differently to make that play in the outfield? What could you have done differently to ensure you were covering the base?

What can YOU do in practice, or at home, to prepare yourself better?

So what do we do from here on out?

We celebrate moments of adjustments. We let our kids know that they and they alone are responsible for making adjustments. We hold them accountable when they don’t. We stop making excuses. We hold them responsible for being too rigid, and we give them back the power to make the changes necessary to find success on their own, on and OFF the field.

The post Ladies…Would you PLEASE JUST Learn to Freakin’ ADJUST YOURSELF!? appeared first on Softball is for Girls.

Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for 9-12 (Updated in 2019)

Youth Softball Catcher Gear Set for 9-12

Youth Softball Catcher Gear Set for 9-12

Youth Softball Catcher Gear Sets (Click on link and skip to the product review)Images
#1 Best-Seller:
Louisville Slugger Youth PG Series 5 Catchers Set
Louisville Slugger Youth PG Series 5 catchers set
Under Armour PTH Victory Catchers KitUnder Armour PTH Victory Catchers Kit
EASTON M3 Softball Catcher Box SetEASTON M3 Catcher's Set
Mizuno Boy’s Youth Samurai Gear Set for CatcherMizuno Boy’s Youth Samurai Box Set Catchers Gear
Wilson EZ Youth Softball Catcher Gear SetWilson EZ Gear Catcher’s Kit
Easton Prowess Qwikfit Fast Pitch Youth Softball Catcher Gear SetEaston Prowess Qwikfit Fast Pitch Catcher’s Box Set
MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear PackYouth Softball Catcher Gear Pack Macgregor
My Recommendation:
My Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set
Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set

You may have seen professional catchers using safety gear sets. And now, your child is playing as position 2 and you are worried about his/her safety which is not uncalled for. Softball equipment is essential to protect your little ones from foul tips, flying bats and other players sliding at the plate. After reading this article, you will know how to choose and hopefully decide on the youth softball catchers gear sets you are going to get for your child with our recommendations.

6 Considerations BEFORE buying Catchers gear set:

These considerations should be in your mind before selecting the catcher gear set for your children:

1) Size dimension:

Before buying, you should know what is right to buy. These catcher gears come in various sizes and dimensions for a different age. So, you have to select the right size of helmet, chest guard, leg guard, and catcher’s mitt according to your children’s’ age. Some of the chest protectors come with the feature of the room to grow. This feature helps in fitting and adjustment.

2) Quality:

Secondly, I’m sure you would not compromise on quality as it is the one which ensures safety. Hence better quality should be your first priority.  Make sure the catcher set you are select should be approved from NOCSAE because NOCSAE has protection standards for safety. The product approved by NOCSAE is a little bit expensive but worth buying.

3) Buy in set:

Moreover, don’t go for buying individual gear sets. They will cost you more and maybe different in qualities. Buy them in the whole set and make sure they are adjustable and lightweight because it matters a lot. Adjustment in size is necessary for proper fitting and it has to be lightweight for your comfort.

4) Helmet view:

Try to select the helmet is looks like a hockey style. Wikipedia stated that the catcher has the most comprehensive job. They have to analyze the game because they can see all the players on fields. So, this hockey style helmet provides the whole exposure of the field by which the catcher can analyze the game better.

5) Shoulder flaps:

Well, some of the catcher gear comes with only one shoulder flaps while some best brands offer both. One-shoulder flap compromise on protection and as well as if your youngsters are left-handed it would be a problem for them.

6) Hidden feature(s), if any:

Some product has some hidden feature which is not mentioned in their specification. Like some of the brands also provide throat protection with the gear set. But they usually not mention it. But don’t worry we will discuss these features in detail below.

We have conduct researches in our online and local community keeping in mind in recommending you the bests of catcher gear sets in terms of qualities and features.

Our picks for Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for 9-12

All these products have different specifications and price. Some products may have similar features but we pick the best out of them. Be sure to read till the end for my recommendation.

Here is the list of our Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for your 9-12:

#1 Best-Seller:

Louisville Slugger Youth PG Series 5 catchers set

Louisville Slugger Youth PG Series 5 catchers set

The Louisville Slugger has a glossy look. It shines in all of its beautiful colors. Your child will be spoilt for choice just on colors alone. One of the appealing features is that it comes with 6 different colors mixture and these color combines to give 9 different color contrast combinations.  Gear set has a helmet, shin guard and chest protector for both boys and girls. The size range is 12 inches for chest protector, 13 inches for shin guard and helmet fits (6 3/8-7)

You don’t have to be worried about its quality as it is approved by NOCSAE. Hence it is solid and safe. The helmet is not just solid; it has a sleek glossy look plus its mask gives you a wide-field view. It is specially designed for catchers to have a wide and clear exposure to the field.

I’m sure your youngster would love its fitting. Because chest guard comes with over the shoulder harness for better fitting. The foam padding in the chest protector is also dynamic as it gives the pleasure of comfort to the catcher.

The shin guard of Louisville Slugger has double knee design which allows the enhance movement of your youngster without any restriction. This design helps to have better performance on the field as it provides ease to the player in the movement.

It has a great ventilation system in it, as it is made up of metallic mesh cover which allows passing air through it.  This metallic mesh has one more quality, that it makes this kit light-weight. Obviously Young player doesn’t want a heavy gear set which makes them tired. Therefore, Louisville Slugger has not compromised on the weight of the catcher gear set.


  • Your youngster will love the attractive combination of colors that Series 5 has.
  • Superior quality and comfort that your child deserves
  • The crotch shield is detachable


  • The helmet is small or too tight for some youngsters
  • It does not come with a gear bag.
  • Shin pad strap is not strong, might become loose when you do squats.

Check out more reviews of Series 5 here.

Under Armour PTH Victory Catchers Kit:

Under Armour PTH Victory Catchers Kit

One of the most famous catchers gear set because of its design. As it looks like Easton Natural catcher gear. It is specially made for youth, therefore, it comes with adjustable shoulder pads so it fit properly on all 9-12 years old. These shoulder pads have foam inside to maintain protection and providing comfort for your child.

This kit contains catching helmet, chest protection, and leg guards. The helmet has the size (6 to7 inches), chest protector comes with (14.5 inches) from sternum to navel and leg guards are 13 inches from cleat to the kneecap. It comes in four colors Black, navy blue, royal blue, and red. And it is for both boys and girls.

It is made up of ABS plastic that offers a light-weight kit that enhances your child’s performance. This ABS plastic is high impact resistant which deflects and absorbs the hits. The helmet has ABS shell inside it and it also has a BAR VISION which gives your youngster a perfectly clear view on the field. As well as this plastic makes it more durable as users claimed that it is long-lasting.

A chest protector is designed in such a way which makes it easy to wear and remove. In addition, it has foam on both inside and outside. Inside foams give comfort and outside low rebound foam is for easy recovery of ball.

Airflow is a very vital requirement of a catcher from these kits. And Under Armour kit offer 38 ventilation spaces so the player cannot feel suffocation.

AEGIS Microbe shield is very helpful as it protects from bacteria and moisture. As these catchers get dirty and sticky very easily so this feature is obviously very beneficial.


  • This softball gear set by Under Armor comes with a throat protector. It is truly an amazing feature of this gear set to protect your 9-12 throat from any danger.
  • Comfortable to wear because it is lightweight and has a foam coating inside.
  • It comes in four amazingly attractive colors for your youngster to choose from
  • Durable and heavy-duty because of the material used, ABS plastic.


  • Does not comes with two shoulder flaps
  • There is no Velcro for left-hand catchers

Find out more about the Under Armour PTH Victory Catchers Kit by clicking here.


EASTON M3 Catcher's Set

This M3 set is designed for the youngster from 9 to 12 years old. This package has a helmet, chest protector with groin protector and leg guard. It has just one color(black).  The quality and color look much better than others on it as it has a black matt finish on the chest. The chest protector has extra room to grow. Therefore, when your child grows a little bit, they can still use it for quite much time.

The size of the chest protector is 13.5-inch, helmet size (6-1/8-7) inches, and leg guard 12.7 inches leg guard. Easton is the manufacture of softball equipment and they are making high-quality gear sets for catchers for quite a long time. This gear set is specially made for the youngster as Easton tried to provide every safety feature a young catcher requires.

The helmet of Easton M3 meets the standard of NACSAE as the manufacturer has not compromised on build quality. The chest protector has a foaming pad inside and matt rubber outside. Inside foaming give comfort and outside matt rubber absorbs the hits. Many users gave remarks that Easton enhances the performance of their young catcher as it deadens the ball which makes it easy to recover.

Shin pad has a 3-piece strap system hence leg guard does not come off during the play. All the equipment is having a stronghold on the body and it is very easy to put on and off the kit. Adjustment of kit is also a key feature. You can adjust it according to your child physiques.


  • A unique and different look than others (matt finish) which your little one would love to have.
  • It is easy to put on and remove.
  • Your child deserves the high quality of this set
  • NOCSAE approved is a plus point for your little one safety.


  • The helmet is too tight for some young children who hit puberty faster than average.

Check out reviews of this black beauty here.

Mizuno Boy’s Youth Samurai Gear Set for Catcher

Mizuno Boy’s Youth Samurai Box Set Catchers Gear

The Mizuno Samurai is indeed a very attractive gear set. You youngster will be proud to wear it. It has a black and grey color contrast combination which looks beautiful. It has enormous positive reviews from our community and mostly is praises for its high quality.

The set includes a Samurai helmet, Samurai chest protector, Samurai shin guards, and gear bag. The size range of helmet is (6 ½-7 ¼), Shinguard 14.5 inches and chest protector 14 inches for youth. This set is for both boys and girls ages 9-12 years old.

Mizuno Samurai gear set is one of the most professional gear sets your child catcher can wear. It has all the qualities and features that a professional catcher requires. Like it has a lot of space in the helmet so your child can wear glasses in it. Most of the catcher’s helmet does not allow this. Moreover, the helmet is made according to NACSAE standards therefore, it will protect your child from foul tips and harsh sliding of another player on the plate.

It has three-layer EVA foam padding inside it. This EVA foam padding is more comfortable and it does allow airflow through it. When your youngsters feel comfort while wearing this gear set their performance as a catcher would be better.

This Samurai set has many happy users, they gave a 5-star rating to this gear set in every aspect. Equipment of this catcher gear is also available in individual and quality is the same as this. But the user prefers complete gear set as it is economical.


  • It worth every penny for its top-notch quality and your child will definitely love to have this.
  • This is one of the top line professional softball gear set and your youngster totally deserves it.
  • Better comfort than its competitor with EVA foaming pads.


  • The helmet liner might come off if not cleaned after every use.
  • A couple of my softball community mums got the wrong size gear set so be really careful while selecting a size.

Check out more reviews of this youth softball catcher gear set by Mizuno for boys.

Wilson EZ Youth Softball Catcher Gear Set

Wilson EZ Gear Catcher’s Kit

If you are looking for some cheap but good quality catcher’s kit than here, we found one for you. This Wilson EZ gear kit is very economical. Its price is much lower than other catcher kit but its quality is not compromised by Wilson. As it is made of ABS plastic to protect your young catcher from balls all from 360 degrees.

It comes with four colors (Black, Navy, Royal, Scarlet). This gear set does not look much attractive but it will assist all the features another professional gear set gives.  It is great for beginners who are learning softball drills. Your child can wear this kit while practicing. The large size is recommended for 9-12 years, old boys and girls.

The manufacturer claimed that it is very easy to put on and off as it has Quick Change technology. This Quick-Change technology will let your youngster to off and on the kit in less than 10 seconds. Well, putting on and off the catching kit is a difficult task so this is indeed an appealing feature.

The helmet has venting from it to keep the head cool and protective enough as NOSCEA approved it. It also has ABS shell inside so it is lightweight consequently your youngster will not be feeling tired while wearing it.

The leg guards are enough thick and have foam padding inside them.

The outside of shin pads is made up of rigid plastic to protect your child from any type of hit.

The chest protector has foam padding in it to provide the pleasure of comfort and its outside is also made up of rigid plastic. Although this rigid plastic does deaden the ball for a quick recovery it absorbs the hits very well.


  • Very economical, you can have this under 100 bucks.
  • Quality is good
  • It will provide comfort to your child.
  • Comes in 4 attractive colors


  • Velcro wears out on both chest protector and leg guard.

Read more reviews on this catcher gear kit by Wilson on Amazon.

Easton Prowess Qwikfit Fast Pitch Youth Softball Catcher Gear Set

Easton Prowess Qwikfit Fast Pitch Catcher’s Box Set

Let your show this prowess in the field. I’m sure she will feel pride while wearing this. Easton is the manufacture of softball equipment and they are making high-quality gear sets for catchers for quite a long time. This gear set is specially made for young athlete girls as Easton tried to provide every safety feature a young catcher requires. Easton used engineering on every element to fit properly. Many softball coaches recommend this specifically for girl’s catchers.

It has an attractive professional look and you may have seen professional catchers wearing catcher gear sets like this. Easton always comes with attractive designs which makes catcher looks attractive on the field.

The catcher box set includes three pieces for the young female athlete. The chest protector, shin pad and helmet. The size of the chest protector is 13.5 inches, helmet (6 1/ 8 to 7) and leg guard is 12.7 inches long.

The helmet has three strap system and easy hook and loop system. It is hokey style helmet but there is not chin guard with it.

The chest protector has an adjustment system and button hooks so your young daughter will not have difficulties while putting on and off. The user gives positive reviews on amazon about the chest protector of Eastin prowess Qwikfit because it has foam layering inside it.

There are cool little straps on shin pads that are easy to put on and remove. Shin pads also have foaming layers in it and allow enhanced movement of the player without any discomfort.


  • Specifically, design for female by Easton so your daughter would have a comfortable customized fitting.
  • Attractive look to boost your daughter’s self-confidence.
  • Durable equipment so that you would not have to replace it so frequently.
  • It is easy to adjust.
  • The size guide is pretty accurate.
  • So far I have not heard any complaints about the quality of this catcher gear set in person or even online.


  • I have gotten feedback about sizing. So be sure to measure and choose the size for your daughter properly.
  • Knee saver might not fit on kit without modification according to one of my neighbors.

Find out more about this catcher kit by Easton over here. 

MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear Pack

Youth Softball Catcher Gear Pack Macgregor


Well if you are looking for a girl catcher gear pack then here is one of the best for your young catcher.  MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear Pack is at an affordable price for your 9-12-year-old daughter. It comes in three colors (black, royal and scarlet). The design is not having a professional look as it is for young kids. But it will protect your young daughters as professional kits do. Because the material used by MacGregor is no less than any other. As they make many other sports equipment, they fairly know everything an athlete demands.

This catcher gear set includes Girls’ chest protector, 4-inch throat protector, helmet have combo catcher adjustments and dual knee leg guards. It is ideal for young female athletes as it has all required features a position 2 catcher requires. It is perfect for beginner catcher and your daughter can use this kit as practicing softball drills.

Foam padding is in the whole set for the comfort of the catcher. Reviews have shown that it is best in its price as it is durable and strong.  The protection of the kit is approved by NOCSAE as it meets all the protection standards.  Well, the whole kit has a ventilation system that keeps the body cool and comfortable. These features are necessary for catchers and MacGregor Girl’s Catcher gear pack has all these.  So, count MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear pack in your list if you are looking for top catcher gear sets for your daughter.


  • You will not need to spend money frequently to replace this gear set because it has great quality as well as high durability.
  • It comes in 4 attractive colors and I am sure that your youngster will love the gorgeous color combination.
  • Meet all standards of protection so rest assured because your child safety is in safe hands.
  • Helmet and chest protectors are well padded to provide extreme comfort to your youngster.
  • High-quality material is used for the chest protector cushions to provide that extra padding for your child.


  • Some young kids that has larger than average sizes feedback the shin pads is a tad small.
  • One of my friends told me that the chest protector was too large for her daughter.

Check out more reviews of this youth softball catcher gear set here.

Girl wearing MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear Pack

My Recommendation:

Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set


Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Gear SetEaston is the manufacture of softball equipment and they are making high-quality gear sets for catchers for quite a long time. This gear set is specially made for the youngster as Easton tried to provide every safety feature a young catcher requires.

This Easton Black Magic Catcher box set comes only in black color. Black color always gets attention and so does magic. That’s why it named black magic. But it is not just magic of color, this gear set has enormous qualities which your youngster would love to have.

Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set has protection from top to bottom for your young child. It comes to a protective helmet, chest protector and shin guards. The 9-12 years old gear set size range is 6-7 inches helmet, 14 inches chest protector and 12.7 inches leg guards. It has foam padding inside all the equipment for better comfort and mobility of the catcher.

The helmet is made up of ABS shell which ensures the protection of your child and it is also approved by NOCSAE, so you don’t have to worry about built quality. The helmet is look-alike hockey-style as it provides enormous exposure of field view from a solid steel cage mask.

Shin pads have double knee caps hence your young catcher can have a better movement behind the plate. This catcher box set is perfect for beginner catchers because Easton specifically constructs it for youth players. Moreover, many coaches of softball recommend their youth player to have this Catcher box set for better softball drills.

Not just this, it has a Velcro attachment system for the growing player. For this reason, your child can have a proper fitting. A chest protector is solid and has the ability to deaden the ball for easy recovery.


  • It comes with an amazing fitting feature which your child can have a proper fitting.
  • This Easton gear set is extremely comfortable as well as durable. Your child deserves the best!
  • It is ideal for both boys and girls.
  • Many of my softball community members’ children are loving it.
  • Great reviews on Amazon as expected.


  • Straps slide out of D ring easily for a minority.

Check out more reviews of Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Gear Set here.


     By this guide, you can choose the best for your youngster as we have mentioned above Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for 9-12. All the products have different specifications and price. They may have some similar specification but some of them have very unique and appealing features.  You have to choose accordingly and carefully. Make sure you are selecting the right size so your youngster can enjoy the play.

We have also mentioned what you should consider before buying the catcher gear set. Please read and note that consideration before buying. Try to get the best possible catcher gear set according to your requirements. It’s only when you get the best catcher gear set, your young catcher will then be able to give his/her best on the field

Check out our Top 8 Catcher Drills your child should know here.


The post Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for 9-12 (Updated in 2019) appeared first on Awesome Softball Drills.

Great Time to Hit the Reset Button

img_0044-e1572626308764.png The summer is a distant memory. Especially for those of us who got snow on Halloween! Can you believe that? Sticking-to-the-ground-over-your-ankles snow on Halloween. Fall ball is either behind us already as well, or there is one more weekend to go. Then there’s a lull before it all starts again. It’s definitely a great time of the softball year to take some time off. Rest and recovery is a good thing, and now that we have joined the indoor sports in playing practically year-round it’s tough to find a few weeks you can string together to let your body (and mind) heal from the grind. For some, however, this might be a great time for something else – i.e., hitting the reset button and either correcting major flaws or making major upgrades in mechanics and approach. There is never a bad time to work on improving yourself and your game. But making major changes carries some risks when you’re also expected to play at your most effective level during the week or on the weekend. Let’s take pitchers for example. To achieve all she’s capable of, a pitcher may need to work on her posture, or her leg drive, or her ability to whip the ball through the release zone. But it can be difficult to work on those things if doing so causes her to be wilder than when she sticks with her old habits. Most coaches would rather have their pitcher bend forward and throw consistent strikes than work on staying upright and throwing too high, or too low, or too wide. Especially if that pitcher is their #1. That’s just the nature of things, and it’s very understandable. Still, every pitch the pitcher throws bent forward so she can throw a strike is another step in the wrong long-term direction. And it will take her that much longer to get to where she needs to be to reach her potential. It’s the same for hitters. Working on developing a better swing that will make a hitter more effective at higher levels doesn’t always yield great results at first. Anything that’s different is uncomfortable at first, and hitting is so dependent on quick reactions that walking the line between the old and new swings may throw the hitter off entirely. Again, most coaches will take a good hit with an ugly swing over strikeout or weak ground ball or pop-up with a good swing. They’re not interested in how many home runs that hitter will hit in two years with her new and improved swing. They’re focused on getting her on base, or scoring that runner on third, now. Can’t say I blame them. I would be too. Once upon a time there were three distinct parts to the season. There was the off-season, which lasted a few months, then the pre-season for a month or two, then the actual season. That’s not the case anymore. Fall ball has gone from being a time of once-a-week practices and a game here or there to almost the equivalent of the summer season. Some of the tournaments in the fall are arguably more important than many in the summer for those who play in college, because college coaches are in attendance in droves. You don’t want to look bad in front of a gaggle of college coaches. So right now, from the beginning of November to the end of December, is about the only time for players to make major changes in a safe environment. Pitchers can work on improving their drive mechanics, or their posture, or other core fundamentals without having to worry about the results of the pitch. They can throw the ball all over the place for now, as long as they do it with the correct mechanics. It’s a form of failing up. Not to be confused with the version where someone sucks without trying to get better but gets rewarded anyway. As they replace old habits with new ones the control will come back – and be better than ever. Hitters can work on developing their swings without having to worry about the consequences. As they move from conscious competence (having to think about how to move correctly) to unconscious competence (not thinking about what they’re doing but doing it right anyway) they can shift 100% of their focus to seeing the ball and hitting it hard. Suddenly all those cage pop-ups and ground balls start turning into rising line drives that smack off the back of the cage – and rebound back at the hitter if there is a solid wall behind the far end. Everyone can work on their throwing mechanics – still one of the most under-taught parts of the game. Instead of measuring success by “the ball got to where they were throwing” fielders can develop mechanics that will help them throw harder and faster while protecting their arms and shoulders from injuries. Most times of the year the pressure to perform in games out-ranks the desire to make improvements. Not right now. For those who know they need to make major changes, this is the ideal time. Get to work, either on your own or with a qualified instructor, so by the time you start up again you’re ready to play (and show) better than ever. And if you’re not in need of major rework, enjoy your time off. You’ve earned it.

The Classiest, Most Sportsmanlike Team in Softball | Berrien High School SOFTBALL

Nowadays we hear so much about the awful sportsmanship we encounter on the softball fields. From obnoxious parents and arrogant players with attitudes, and rudeness and even fighting among parents – we had to share perhaps one of the most beautiful things we have ever experienced on the softball field.

As you may or may not be aware last week started the Georgia High School Associate State tournament in Columbus Georgia. Region winners from around the state play 2 rounds of a 2 for 3 series against the top 4 teams from regions around the state. The goal of course is to get to the Elite 8, who make it to the state tournament.

For Bremen High School, the second round of playoffs brought the a long 4 hour bus ride away to Berrien County, Georgia. The winner of this round would advance to the State Tournament.

So obviously, this is a big game. There are lots of emotions to work through. Lots of feels. Lots of energy. Dreams that will continue and come to an end.

Long story short, Bremen High School beat out Berrien County to advance in a 2 game sweep. This was a season ender for Berrien County which always brings a tremendous amount of emotions.

Unlike travel ball, in high school ball there is one championship game, and it culminates after months and months of becoming a team, and hundreds of hours of practice and a thousand miles of travel to play games on school nights. By October, teams are exhausted, and worn out and are digging deep to stay alive.

So getting knocked out in the second round of playoffs is painful for anyone. When you work so hard, which all these teams do, and come one game short of the end goal, it is heartbreaking.

But the amazing and most beautiful thing was that on Thursday during the first games of the state playoffs, Berrien County coaches and team mates showed up to watch.

And who did they come out and support? Bremen High School. The very team that knocked them out of the State Tournament.

Whose bleachers did they sit on? Who were they cheering for? Where did the coach and her team camp out to watch a game? None other than the Bremen Bleachers.

The kids from the team were delightful to say the least, polite, humble and encouraging. The coach was exactly the same. Instead of being bitter and hoping to see Bremen High School get knocked out, they were there cheering for the same team that knocked them out. They were there to learn, and to experience and exhilaration that comes from a State Championship.

And of all the teams at the tournament that they chose to cheer on, they chose Bremen High School, the same team that knocked them out.

Even more stunning was the fact that several of the players from the Berrien High School team reached out to several of the players from Bremen High School on social media, finding as many of them as they could, wishing them well, congratulating them, and cheering them on with words of encouragement, and generous personal messages that displayed a level of sportsmanship very seldom seen in youth sports today.

No one told these kids to do this. All we ever hear about is how awful social media is. And yet, girls who have never met before, girls who share the love of softball, who respect the game and their opponents, took the time to find players from Bremen High School and let them know they were cheering for them from so many miles away….

That is big. That is beautiful. THIS IS SOFTBALL!

That says a lot about not just the girls but the coaching staff and the parents who have raised these athletes. It speaks volumes for the expeectations and culture of the school itself and of team that Berrien County, Georgia is and will be. They are a young team, and we have no doubts that their attitudes and sportsmanship, love and respect of the game will take them far in the years to come.

And the kids from Bremen High School, want to say a HUGE thank you to these folks for being so supportive not only while we visited their school, but afterwards and through the State Tournament as well. We hope to be able to return the support in the year to come, because your team showed grit and fight and CLASS like none other.

And so Today, we tip our hats to the team from Nashville, Georgia in Berrien County Georgia!

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