Re-thinking How to Use a Radar Unit

Ally pitching

I am going to admit right up-front that I have always had a somewhat tenuous relationship with radar guns/units for pitchers.

At first it wasn’t too bad. I bought a Glove Radar and attached it to my catcher’s glove to check my own daughter’s speed. It was fine for that purpose, especially since we weren’t really caught up in the absolute number but rather just looking to see whether she was making progress.

Once I started teaching pitching lessons and was no longer catching, I purchased a series of other units, including an early Bushnell (which I ultimately gave away) a Jugs Gun (an earlier model than the one in the link, which I still own) and then all the iterations of the Pocket Radar.

I tended not to use the radar units much, however, because of one simple phenomenon. Whenever I would pull out the unit, no matter which one it was, the pitcher would tighten up and start throwing visibly slower than she had before.

Inevitably the readings were disappointing and what had started out as an energetic lesson would kind of fall into a sort of funk. Consequently, while I had all this technology at my disposal I didn’t really take advantage of it.

That changed after I took the High Performance Pitching certification courses from Paulygirl Fastpitch and had a chance to observe how Rick Pauly was doing it. He had a radar unit permanently set up in the cage he uses for lessons, with a big readout the pitcher could see after every pitch.

As you would watch him teach lessons in the course, the speed was always there in the background. As a result, it no longer became a “thing” to be trotted out. It was just part of the background, like the net or the posters he has hung up.

That brought me to my epiphany. If every pitch is measured, the pitcher just might learn to get over her fear of being measured.

Of course, one of the differences between my situation and Rick’s is that all his students come to him at a single location, sometimes from hundreds of miles away, while I work out of at least three different facilities on a regular basis, plus some other locations when I am working with several pitchers on a team. I am a softball gypsy.

So I started thinking how I could duplicate that experience when it hit me. I have a Pocket Radar Smart Coach unit. I could mount it to a tripod, place it behind the catcher, and pull up the readings on my iPhone.

Good idea in theory, except it became a problem when I wanted to video a student to point out something to work on. Luckily technology again came to the rescue and in a better way.

I still set up the Smart Coach on the tripod in Continuous mode. But then I connect it via Bluetooth to my iPad, which sits on the floor, off to the side, in front of the pitcher. Every pitch gets registered in big numbers that we both can see, and my phone remains free for video.

From a logistic standpoint, this setup has worked out well. I also quickly discovered that an evening’s worth of lessons will drain the batteries pretty quickly. But luckily the Smart Coach has a port that lets you connect a power block to it.

The power block I have lasts for several hours. When I get home I recharge it and it’s ready for the next evening’s lessons.

The big question, of course, would be the effect it had on the students. Would they tense up and freak out over having every pitch measured?

Not at all. In fact, the opposite has happened. I find that the big, red numbers inspire them to work harder to increase their speed.

There’s no slacking off in a lesson, because it becomes obvious. The numbers don’t lie. And they all want to do a little better than they did before, so they keep working at it.

But rather than tensing up they kind of find their own way to relaxing and throwing better.

Since I’ve started using it, I think every pitcher who has done it has achieved at least one person best if not more. By personal best I mean her highest reading on my set-up.

It also gives me a way to push them that’s fun for them. If a girl throws 51, I’ll ask her to throw 52. It’s just one mph more, but stack up enough of those and you get a nice speed increase.

The setup I use isn’t perfect. Pocket Radar says the unit works best when it’s a few feet away and directly behind the catcher/in line with the pitch. The cages I use don’t allow for that type of setup; I usually have to put it a foot or two to the side of the catcher, sometimes right behind him or her.

No matter, however. The objective isn’t to get an absolute speed measurement. It’s to track (and encourage) progress.

Having a pitcher improve speed during a drill, or work to get to a new high speed from the pitching plate, gets us where we want to go. We can always get the more accurate measurement when we can set it up properly.

So if your experience has been like mine, where bringing out the radar unit becomes a momentum killer, try making it “part of the furniture” instead. You will probably like what you discover.

 

How to GET our Ball-Playin’ Life CLEAN AF! | Your Ball-Player Laundry Problems

Every year, its the same. Sports parents from all walks of life looking for a solution for their laundry problems. You know white pants and cleats and uniforms that kids use for napkins that smell like the back end of a raccoon. Stained socks and catching equipment that picks up every ounce of dirt on the ballfield – that also lands on the upholestery in your car and on your carpets.

What if we told you, that we know the ultimate solution to your ball player laundry problems? Would you believe us? And what if we told you that this cleaner will change your life, and the way you clean everything from clothing to delicates, and carpet and upholestery?

Today, we introduce you to Rob Forgery AKA the “Clean-AF” dude that is popping up all over the internet.

Why? Because he singled-handedly developed a detergent that won’t make you gag and THAT WORKS like a CHARM! The best part is that Rob Forgey is an amazing guy, who is multi talented, passionate, hard working and an example of the American Dream in action.

Here is our Interview with Rob at Clean-Alkaline Formula, and we assure you, you will fall in love with him just as much as you will his cleaner.

What sparked the idea for Clean-AF?
Well we have 2 sons who play baseball. The oldest has now went in another direction, but my youngest still plays for his middle school. We just got tired of cleaning ball field dirt. We are like most of the other ball parents and tried everything. I got really fixated on it and just couldn’t find one that I really loved. We had a VW Passat that had suede inserts in the seats and they were covered in ballfield dirt. I needed something strong enough to take out the dirt, but didn’t want the interior destroyed. Again, I tried it all and couldn’t find anything. I had a buddy who is a chemical rep and he had a few suggestions. I was playing with concentrations and got it dialed in. We then started testing it on absolutely everything. At first it had some trouble with clay stains, so we modified it again. When we got that fixed, we started working on getting the fragrance dialed in. What we came up with is a product that we are very proud of and our customers love.

How did you get started?
I started by sampling to friends and family. The product was packaged in a milk jug and the first labels were printer paper taped on the jugs. It looked pretty sketchy. We also had a few cleaning ladies test our product. I knew we had something when they would all call and tell how much they loved it. They encouraged me to actively try marketing and selling the product. I posted some pics on Facebook and folks immediately wanted to know how they could get it. I built a website from my phone and just watched and waited for our first visitors. It took 3 incredibly long days before we got our first order, but once it started it caught fire. We started setting up at tournaments and talking laundry with anyone who would listen. Our customers have been the driving force of our sales.

Who helps you with your business?
It truly is a family business. My wife Lindsay and oldest son Will help the most, but when things get busy I get help from mom, cousins, sisters, and friends.
My uncle is a manufacturing chemist and he was instrumental in helping us adjust the chemistry to our needs.

What background prepares you to make the best cleaner around? I’ve been in sales my whole life. My mother knew I had a gift for gab at an early age and she helped me dominate every candy sale we ever had. That sounds crazy, but knocking on doors at such an early age helped conquer a bunch of social awkwardness.
The sales background definitely helps, but I eventually got into the industrial side of business. I was exposed to countless product lines. One of the product lines were chemicals. I learned safety procedures, documentation, and how to handle them. I use all of that knowledge daily now. As far as dealing with the customers, I developed those skills from coaching. I am still dealing with parents who have a common problem and I love helping them because they are all so very grateful.

When did you start clean af? We officially started selling the product in April of 2019. My son and wife were going on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and I was just try to raise money for that. It was a real blessing. They were able to experience some serious baseball and see how good we have over here. We were able to clean and donate a lot of equipment and that made us very happy.

What are your long term goals?
My long term goals are to continue to work for myself and build something that my kids can eventually take over. I try not to worry about selling to big box stores or any of that right now. I think that if we do right by our customers and continue to listen to them, they will guide us to success. I really want to get into some sort of mobile service as well. I think our customers will really dig that.

What did you do (or do now) along with clean af?
I was in management at McKee foods. That really taught me a lot about how folks wanted to be treated and really honed my listening skills.
I was in construct material sales, equipment sales and rentals, and power generation sales. My last job was helping manage a huge material contract worth about $90 million.
Now I am full time laundry guy. Haha. I love it!

Why are you so passionate about youth sports?
To be completely honest, I was tired of all the games us adults can play. When dealing with a child there were no motives, no angles, no filters, and no lying. I absolutely loved just hearing what they had to say because of that. It was very refreshing and exactly what I needed. I listened to them and they listened to me. We had some great teams and it was because we all loved each other.
My new love is fastpitch softball. I study the game and love the girls passion. When those dugouts get going it really gets me pumped up. One day soon I hope to coach again

The post How to GET our Ball-Playin’ Life CLEAN AF! | Your Ball-Player Laundry Problems appeared first on Softball is for Girls.

Helping Pitchers Cure Monkey Butt/Ninja Position

animal animal photography close up cute

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One of the common flaws you will see even in otherwise strong pitchers is a tendency to stick their butts out toward first base (right handed pitcher) or third base (left handed pitcher) after they land. I call it monkey butt, since that’s how many primates “present,” while Rick Pauly calls it the “ninja” position.

No matter what you call it, what you end up with is a posture issue where the shoulders are not stacked up on top of the hips. Instead, the hips are cleared out of the way so the arm can come through the release zone unimpeded rather than making brush contact.

You can tell pitchers they need to stay stacked, hips under shoulders, but they can’t always feel what that means. In other words, they don’t realize they are sticking their butts back; that makes it pretty tough to correct.

One description I’ve heard of how to encourage them to keep the hips under the shoulder is to imagine cracking a walnut between the butt cheeks. If you do that, you will tend to bring the hips/butt in rather than sticking it out.

The problem with that is younger pitchers in particular may not have much experience cracking a walnut with their hands. So while they may nod and say ok, they may not quite be able to understand what you actually want them to do or how much pressure they need to apply.

The other night, however, I found a good cue that not only relates to a fairly common human experience; it also has the benefit of being one of those funny things you don’t ordinarily talk about, especially in a pitching lesson. It feels like you’re conspiring on a secret.

What I told a couple of pitchers with this issue was “Imagine you have a little gas getting ready to come out, but you don’t want to let it out. As you land, do what you need to do to hold it in.”

The pitchers immediately got the concept, and went from monkey butt to upright posture immediately.

I won’t say it’s a miracle cure. After a while they would get back into monkey butt position again. But by saying “hold the gas in” they’d immediately get back to better posture. I expect as they gain more experience they will learn to get the right position automatically – just like anything else.

If you have a pitcher who just can’t seem to avoid pushing her hips/butt back, give this cue a try. You may get some strange looks at first, but I’m pretty sure you’ll get the results you’re looking for quickly.

Shout out to All the #GIRLDADS | Softball is For Girls

Hashtag #girldad is trending in response to Kobe Bryant’s untimely passing.

And today, we want to give a huge shout-out to all the girldads out there who stand up, show up, support, encourage, coach, mentor, listen to, raise, empower, and love their daughters. And the beautiful thing is that these girldads don’t have to be ‘dads’ at all.

The softball community is proof of just how powerful a strong male presence can be in the life of a girl. So many of the coaches that we know, are not only invested in the raising of their own kids – but the kids of others as well.

Girldads can be coaches, parents, step parents, uncles, brothers, grandfathers, or friends. But essentially, what they do is SHOW up at the right time and support these young women, and show them firsthand just how impactful a GOOD man can be in their lives.

How do we say Thank you to the coaches who spend extra time with the girl who doesn’t have a father figure in her life? How do we thank the men who foster and raise with love the daughters that they have CHOSEN to call their own? How do we praise enough, the men who share their advice, their time, their smiles, their encouragement with the young women who cross their paths. How do we thank these men who give so much of themselves through sport just to make a difference in a girls life??

Not everyone has the picture perfect family life. We all know this.We know that hashtag #girldad probably stings for some who do not have the fatherly support they desire. We know that there are single moms out there who cringe at the thought of a Fathers Day Tournament. There are young girls out there feeling abandoned by their own fathers. There are young girls out there with stressed relationships with their dads. But thank GOD for all the GIRLDADS who ARE there! Thank GoD for all the girldads that choose to coach, and choose to take under their wing, the hearts of so many young women.

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Each and every week on the softball field, there are so many dads showing up. They coach. They cheer. They give high fives. They buy meals. They share hard lessons to make these young girls better. They support. They celebrate the great plays. They wipe the tears and offer hugs.

And often on the softball field, it is impossible to tell which dad is a girls actual dad…because these men choose to share themselves with so many. And THANK GOD for that!

Sometimes with just a few simple words, these men are impacting the lives of their own daughters, and others. Sometimes, by taking 15 minutes to throw batting practice, or by listening, or by including any of the ‘daughters’ from the team – they are influencing and making a difference in the lives of young women.

Sometimes, just by being there, by dancing to the music, by laughing, by participating, and supporting – they are showing an entire team of young girls what it means to be a stand up husband, father, and man….

Softball Dads can get a bad wrap. We are often quick to judge those who coach their own kids. We make fun of “Daddy ball!” But today, we want to express our genuine thanks, and love to all the ones that take the time to do it. Without these men, there would be a lot of girls missing out on great coaching and great leadership and great examples.

These #GIRLDADS ARE making a difference, and we feel that they need to be celebrated. These GIRLDADS, whether made fathers by blood or choice, or just out of commitment and love to the girls, are a testament to what is good in this world. And we want to say THANK YOU!

We thank you for showing up. We thank you for finding the right words to say at the right time. We thank you for putting in extra and stepping up for a girl who may not have a loving, present or supportive dad. We thank you for you loving these kids, and loving this sport, and loving these daughters of God (all of them)! We thank you for being there, for being the face of fatherhood, and for helping raise these girls into the amazing people they are destined to be!

So THANK YOU! Thank you to everyone who shows up for a young girl!

The post Shout out to All the #GIRLDADS | Softball is For Girls appeared first on Softball is for Girls.

Hitters: Never Get Stuck on Your Back Foot

Grace Bradley hitting

You see this all the time working with fastpitch hitters. They look great on the tee – good load and stride, good sequence of hips-shoulders-bat, and a powerful outcome.

Then you start front tossing to them, or having them hit off a pitching machine, and it’s as though some alien who has never swung a bat in its life has somehow possessed your hitters while you were setting up. They make short, jerky moves to stride and wildly swing their arms with barely any hip movement at all. You wonder what happened, and why they’ve lost everything you just spent so much time working on.

Actually, your hitters haven’t forgotten about all that hard work. They just don’t have time to execute that swing. Here’s what happens.

The “pitcher” gets ready to throw and the hitter loads. Then, since the pitch isn’t coming yet, she feels like she loaded too soon so she stops and stands on the back leg.

Then the ball comes and she starts to stride. But because the ball is coming from 20 feet away (on front toss) or at a high speed (since everyone cranks up the pitching machine to the max setting) it’s on her faster than she realized. So she just abandons all the body movement and just tries to get the bat to the ball any way she can, which usually produces some pretty poor results.

What really makes it tough is when the hitter realizes she was late getting to the ball so she starts even earlier! All that does is get her stuck on her back foot sooner, which only makes things worse.

Continuous motion

To truly be effective, hitters must remain in continuous motion. That means once the load happens, they must keep on going until that pitch reaches its conclusion with either a swing or take.

There is no hitting the pause button in the middle of the swing for everything to line up. Mostly because it won’t line up.

That pause on the back leg breaks the momentum that was being gathered with the load/negative move and essentially causes the hitter to have to break inertia all over again. That takes time, and when you’re dealing in hundredths of a second there is no time to waste trying to get the body going.

Hitting is about rhythm and timing. Putting in a pause in the middle of the swing throws that rhythm and timing out the window. You want to keep going in one smooth motion from beginning to end so you can reach that oh yeah moment.

Trust the swing

So, with that in mind, how do you break this vicious cycle of early-wait-late? It starts with getting the hitter to trust the swing, and the process of the swing.

I will usually tell a hitter that she needs to start her stride BEFORE I release the ball in front toss. (For machines it’s a little different, but I have some good tips on dealing with that in another blog post.)

Of course, just because I said it doesn’t mean it will happen. So I encourage her to trust the process, i.e., try to get that stride going early.

After a couple of attempts, she will usually start to get her front foot down on time, with enough time to fire the hips, bring the shoulders around and then launch the bat with confidence. She will find that anticipating the release, and trusting that it will happen, rather than waiting for visual confirmation that the ball is released enables her to execute the swing as we practiced it on the tee.

Verbal cue

While the above strategy works with most hitters it doesn’t necessarily work with everyone. Younger hitters especially may still have trouble figuring out when to start their positive move forward.

For them I have a simple solution: I just yell “Go!” as my arm comes down the back side of the circle. (I always use a full circle – because I can.)

They may be startled at first, but they’re usually obedient so they get started when I say. Again, after a couple of attempts they start gaining confidence in their approach, so when I say go they start attacking the ball.

Of course, I do like to point out to them that an actual pitcher isn’t going to tell them when to start their stride so they will have to learn to do it without the verbal cue. But if it helps them understand the concept and gain some experience with striding before the ball is released, I’m more than happy to do it for a little while.

Translating to an actual pitch

Right now there are probably some hitting fanatics who are saying “but high-level hitters don’t get their foot down before release.” That’s true.

But high-level hitters are also not hitting a pitch thrown from 20 feet away. Even with the new pitching rules.

When you’re throwing that short distance pitch to them, it’s the equivalent of the ball having traveled about 1/3 to 1/2 the distance from the pitching rubber to the plate. And that IS about the time high-level hitters get their front foot (feet?) down.

So once again, the idea of starting the stride before the pitch has been released is valid. You want to go calm-calm-explosion (aka load-stride-swing).

When exactly it happens depends on the pitcher, the hitter, and the hitter’s athletic ability. That last part is something to keep in mind too when you watch video of high-level hitters. The reason they’re high-level is they just might be able to do things, and get away with things, us ordinary mortals can’t do.

Keep it moving

Getting stuck on the back foot in the middle of the swing is just asking for trouble. It takes discipline and trust to break that habit but it can be done.

The more your hitters keep themselves in motion, from beginning to end, the more often -and the farther – they will hit the ball. Keep an eye out for the deadly pause and you’ll help your hitters succeed.

Be As Water

abstract background beach color

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One of the most well-known pieces of advice from the late, great Bruce Lee was a simple three-word statement: be as water. For those interested in more of what he meant, or who are just wondering who the heck Bruce Lee was, here’s a video:

 

While Lee’s advice was ostensibly meant to encourage martial artists to give up their old, rigid approach to movement in favor of one that was more free-flowing, I find it’s also great advice for fastpitch softball players. Here are a few examples.

Pitchers

When pitchers want to throw harder, they tend to tighten up their muscles and become very stiff. They also do it when they’re trying to guide the ball to a location (even if it’s just the general strike zone). Yet that’s the worst possible thing to do in each situation.

If you’re trying to gain speed, remember tight muscles are slow muscles. You can swing your arm around much faster if you relax and let it go versus trying to force it around.

Being stiff when trying to gain better control also works against you, and actually makes it more difficult. If you are tight and off-line somewhere in your circle, you will stay there and the ball will go somewhere you don’t want it to.

But if you are loose, a gentle nudge is all it takes to get back on-line. Plus, you have momentum working for you, because if you are loose and using good mechanics (i.e., those that follow the natural way the body moves) it’s a lot easier to follow the natural line.

To improve as a pitcher, be as water.

Hitters

The same things about tight versus loose apply to hitters. If you try to muscle up on the ball you’ll lose the whipping action of the bat into the hitting zone, costing you valuable bat speed.

Being tight also makes it difficult to react and adjust to pitch speeds, spins and locations. A rigid swing will tend to continue going wherever it started to go; a relaxed swing allows you to make adjustments without losing bat speed.

Then there’s the mental aspect. If you are uptight generally (aka in your own head) you are going to be worried about far too many outside factors, such as your last at bat or the fight you had with your mother before the game, to bring your swing thought down to “see ball, hit ball.”

There will be no flow to your swing, just a sort of panicked flail as the ball comes in. You may even start seeing things that aren’t there, or lose your perspective on exactly where the strike zone is. Much can happen.

To improve as a hitter, be as water.

Fielders

As a fielder, you want to be able to move smoothly to the ball. You want your throws to be easy and sure.

That’s going to be tough if you are tight and rigid. The word “flow” is frequently used to describe a great fielder. And what water does.

Being rigid or mechanical in your movements is a sure ticket to many more errors than you should be making. And if you are that way because you are AFRAID of making errors and being pulled out of the game, it only gets worse. Forget about all that.

To improve as a fielder, be as water.

Approach to the Game

Perhaps the area Bruce Lee’s advice applied to most is your general approach to the game. In the video, he says that if you pour water into a cup it becomes the cup. If you pour it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.

Fastpitch softball players need that type of flexibility as well. You may be asked to play a position that isn’t your usual one. You can either resist or go with it.

Yes, playing outfield rather than catcher or shortstop may not be your preference. But if you go with it and prove yourself in the role you were asked to play you are far more likely to get the opportunity to show what you can do in the position you want to play. I’ve seen it happen.

You may not like your coach’s coaching style. Understood – there are some bad coaches out there. But often it’s not a matter of good or bad, it’s just different than you prefer.

Rather than bracing yourself against it like a rock, be as water. Adjust your expectations and get as much as you can out of the experience. Everyone has something to teach – even if it’s just not to be like they are in the future.

You may not be getting the playing time you want or feel you deserve. That may be true. But before you just blame the coach and jump ship, ask yourself if you’re doing all you can do to earn the spot you want.

Are you diving for balls in practice? Are you displaying a positive attitude? Do you go to the weight room, take extra batting practice or bullpen work, ask for one more ground ball if you pooch one in practice, help clean up team equipment at the end of practice or a game, etc.?

Maybe the answer is yes and you’re just not getting a fair shot. It happens. But before you decide that, determine whether you have been trying to shape yourself to the program the way water shapes itself to the cup or wishing the program would shape itself to you.

Final Question

So after all of this, if I were to ask you which is stronger, the rock or the water, what would you answer?

Many would say the rock. Not a bad answer on the surface, because if you place a rock in a stream or river, the water will be forced to go around it.

Over time, however, the water will wear away the rock and any other obstacle in its path until it can once again flow smoothly.

So I ask you again: which is stronger, the rock or the water?

Be as water, my friend.

You Might Be an A$$Hole Sports Parent if….

Being a sports parent is not for the faint of heart. The combination of supporting your children whom you love more than anything in the entire world, competition and being let loose in the wild kingdom of youth athletics is not always an easy task. Sometimes, it brings out the worst in us. Sometimes, we get caught up and lose sight of the big picture. It’s ok. Luckily our kids forgive us quickly, and we can live and learn IF(and this is a big IF) we are willing to recognize when we are acting like a$$holes and take steps to make a change. 🙂

So today, a short and sweet recount of just a few of the common threads of bad sport parenting that we can strive to change!

You might be an A$$hole sports parent if………………………….

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  • You feel as if your relationships with the coach, or other parents on the team is more important than your kids relationship with their friends and teammates. Too often, when an adult relationship becomes stressed, parents can sever friendships that are IMPORTANT and MEANINGFUL to their kids… Remember, this is about THE KIDS! We have seen far too many friendships between kids busted up because the adults cannot seem to get along, and it really is hard on the children, and it hurts their hearts.
  • You have no regard for the well-being of other children who play sports and are willing to do anything, yes anything – to make sure that YOUR CHILD is at the top of every list. You lie, you spread gossip, you pay people off, you brown-nose and create drama in efforts to sway the winds in your kids favor and don’t care how it affects or hurts other people. Think Tonya Harding or Wanda Holloway if you will. We have seen this with our own eyes. If you feel that compelled to ruin the lives of other children then you truly need counseling, and you also need to re-evaluate your daughters talent level, because that kind of manipulation screams insecurity. Ask yourself, WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF?
  • You are afraid to allow your child to be criticized or coached by others and constantly feel inclined to step in and make excuses. Sure, its difficult to watch your child be put through the ringer. But here’s the thing….your child will learn and grow through being held to a standard by someone else. Let them be coached. If it bothers you, then step away and allow your child to have the OPPORTUNITY to be held to the highest standard by a coach. Your job is to support, not coddle – so that they will grow as athletes and people!
  • You feel the need to scream and holler, rant and criticize your child (or someone else’s) every effort on the field of play. Look, we have talked to A LOT of kids, and their biggest complaint is that they feel pressured by their parents, and don’t feel good enough. All they really want YOU to do, is sit back and enjoy the show. Tell them you love to watch them play, and keep your criticism at a minimum. Be a listener rather than a talker. Kids are smart, they know what they did wrong.
  • You see nothing wrong with causing a huge scene at the ball-field. Whether its an umpire who God Forbid, made a bad call – or a coach or opposing player that ruffled your feathers, your “Modus Operandi” is to make a scene. Loudly. Yeah, kids LOVE that. (insert sarcastic sigh) Self control people. This is youth sports and embarrassing your kiddo is not necessary. These are the same parents who get their feelings hurt when the kids stop wanting them at the field.
  • You automatically think that by default you know what a) your kid is feeling and b) your kid wants. This comes from a person who has spent time in the dugout with kids begging to sit out, or quietly whispering “please, coach don’t put me at 3rd” when their parents are out of earshot, only to be raked over the coals later by Mommy dearest who accuses me of ‘damaging their child’s confidence and ruining the game for them’ because they wanted to play 3rd and I didn’t put them there. Look, kids want to PLEASE their parents, but what pleases parents doesn’t always please them…..\
  • You blame someone else for everything that goes wrong…..It might be a teammate, a coach, an official, another parent, another player, the position of the moon, or WHATEVER….No matter what, your kiddo is not at fault. This is the best way to make sure they learn NOTHING AT ALL!
  • YOU are a sore loser…. Winning and losing is part of it. You cannot take away the lessons that children and teams gain from losing, as much as everyone hates it. Make sure your children learn from you what it is to be a graceful loser.
  • You are the very first in line to approach the coach after a game or tournament before they have even gathered up their belongings. 24 Hour Rule People!!! We promise you that your kid doesn’t want you lined up to talk to their coach right after a big game. It makes them feel awkward and there are ways to handle any problems you have with coaching issues.
  • You are constantly hanging out in, around, behind, beside the dugout. Come on….let your kids own at least one part of their favorite sport. The dugout is a sacred space.

So as Spring season approaches, maybe as parents, we can remind ourselves to not be THOSE ^^^^^^ parents. Keep a level head, and always realize that youth athletics are FOR THE KIDS, not the parents. This is their game and their childhood. Let them have it.

http://www.store.softballisforgirls.com
Because she THROWS LIKE AN ATHLETE!

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Collegiate Sports Advocate | Recruiting Done Right – Small Business Spotlight

Since the beginning at Softball Is For Girls, we have made it a goal to introduce our fastpitch families to small businesses and companies that truly embody the passion and love of the girls and the game. Early, on we met Cheri Naudin with Collegiate Sports Advocate. So today, we present you with a small business spotlight On Collegiate Sports Advocate and Cheri Naudin, who we feel is the epitome of Recruiting Done Right!

First, a little background on Cheri.

Cheri Naudin heads up one of the most successful recruiting and mentorship firms around, giving solid advice with proven results through a system that identifies WHERE your athlete can play, and what they need to do to achieve their academic and athletic goals.

Cheri Naudin has an extensive background with 28 years in the telecommunications industry.  She owned a Recruiting company where she was a headhunter for high end executives.  She has a BS in Business Administration, minor in Management. She has been a leader in Corporate America and in her community since 1985.  She has coached and trained athletes for over 25 years taking teams to Nationals with 3rd and 4th place finishes. She was a recipient of a United Way Award for her work with young athletes. Cheri was the owner of Softball Academy of Texas for  4 years where she trained catchers, provided clinics, and provided training for hitting and slapping. She has been involved with over 450 athletes being recruited and has personally coached over 50 NCAA athletes. Her recruits have played in (or are currently playing in) all Conferences in NCAA and NAIA.  She is highly networked in the College Coaches Arena.  Cheri was on the founding committee for USA Elite Select.  

Collegiate Sports Advocate Inc

What her bio leaves out is that Cheri is extremely well connected and RESPECTED in the softball community and has a lot of close peers in the softball community, including a large variety of college coaches. Her bio also leaves out the fact that she is highly passionate about the success of athletes. (Collegiate sports advocate helps in all sports, not just softball). She holds her student athletes accountable and she clearly knows where they fit in at the college level.

When you talk with Cheri, you realize immediately that she is not afraid of TRUTH TELLING. She is not going to sell you a song and dance and then put minimal effort into your athlete. She is going to expect that they meet deadlines, and take responsibility for their own recruiting journey. CSA is not another gimmick recruiting agency. She, along with the other advocates that she trains, are going to work HARD for your athlete – and she expects that same hard work in return. If she meets a family or athlete not willing to put in the work, she has not problem turning them down or terminating her relationship with them.

Having children of her own that have went through the recruiting process, she is a wealth of information and pillar of light in what can be a very dark tunnel for many families. Recruiting is HARD, but with a clear road map, and someone to lead the way, it can be a fruitful and worthwhile endeavor.

With so many competing organizations looking to only take on your wallet, Collegiate Sports Advocate is a breath of fresh air. While the service is not free (because really what value comes from free), it will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. Just knowing where your athlete should go, and what steps they should take helps families avoid a lot of money pits and false guidance.

If you are a family interested in the recruiting process, Cheri is happy to speak with you at no cost to let you know how her proven system works. You can reach her anytime through Facebook Messenger or at 949-633-9944. Her email address is CheriMasonNaudin@gmail.com. We assure you that you will not regret your decision to partner with Collegiate Sports Advocate!

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Congratulations to Allison Musgrove for Signing at Marian University

Allison Musgrove signing day

This is the type of post I always love to write because it means someone has fulfilled a goal. So today I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Allison Musgrove, who plays for Harvard High School and the McHenry County Heatwave, for officially signing to play softball next year at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Allison is a terrific pitcher and hitter. Although she isn’t very big, her pitches and bat pack a wallop!

Unlike many of my students who start with me young, Allison was already in high school when we started working together. Her former pitching coach (whose daughter I also taught back in the day) had left the area and she and her parents Vern and Crystal were looking for a replacement. Fortunately they were given my name.

Allison actual signing

Mom and dad are all smiles.

One of the fun things is Allison and I hit it off instantly. We bonded on our love of Star Wars, comic book characters (she is a huge Marvel fan) and other nerdy pop culture.

I love the fact that when I made one of those references, either to illustrate an instruction point or just in general conversation, she actually got it without explanation. Still need to get her watching the DC TV shows on the CW, but all in good time.

Allison has always had a tremendous work ethic to go with her talent, which makes lessons fun. She pays close attention and works hard at the things I assign her.

She is also a perfectionist, which can work against her at times, leaving her frustrated when something doesn’t come right away. But she pushes through it, largely because she has such a great attitude. Even when she is having a little trouble it doesn’t take much to get her to smile again.

Of course, a lot of that is due to tremendous parenting. Both Crystal and Vern are always there with words of encouragement and support. They raised a polite, respectful, yet fun daughter who can take some ribbing and give it right back.

One of my favorite success stories is about her hitting. Originally I only worked with her on pitching. But one day she asked if we could work on hitting too since she’d been struggling.

We worked on her hitting and it started to come around. First with some hard outs, then singles here and there, and finally consistent hits with extra base hits, including a few home runs.

Allison has come a long way since we first met. Marian University has definitely made a smart decision in signing her.

I wish her luck, and am letting her know publicly that Fond du Lac isn’t that far from home for me. I plan on coming out to see her play in 2021 – but probably not until toward the end of the season when the weather is hopefully a little warmer.

Congratulations, Allison! You earned it!

High Performance Pitching Sets Sights on Revolutionizing the Way Fastpitch Pitching Is Taught

PaulyGirl_web_header

As anyone who has gone through the process knows, selecting a pitching coach is a bit like entering the Wild West. There are all these conflicting ideas out there, covered in articles, social media posts, YouTube videos and the like.

Some are good, some are great, and some, quite frankly, are downright dangerous to the pitcher’s health. But how does a parent who wants to do right by his/her daughter, or a coach who wants to give his team’s pitchers their best chance of succeeding, sift through all the muck to find the diamonds in teaching?

A new online education program called High Performance Pitching was introduced over the holidays to address this glaring need. It offers detailed instruction from Rick Pauly of Paulygirl Fastpitch, along with demonstrations of certain drills by his daughter and 8-time NPF All-Pro Sarah Pauly, that explains the mechanics used by every elite pitcher in the game today and how to achieve them, step-by-step.

High Performance Pitching is structured to serve several needs. For those who know little or nothing but want to learn the best way to pitch a softball in fastpitch, there is the Beginner level program. It offers three courses (one free, plus two others for $29.95 each) that cover the basic mechanics and key checkpoints to look for.

All courses are video-based so you can see each piece in action. It’s ideal for the parent whose daughter thinks she may want to pitch, a team coach who wants to help his/her pitchers get started, or anyone who is interested in finding a pitching coach and wants to know what to look for in what the coach teaches.

There is also an Intermediate program that gets far more in-depth into the mechanics of pitching. It consists of 12 courses, each roughly an hour long, that break down various aspects of basic mechanics and offer drills. It is designed both for pitching coaches who are interested in learning the mechanics of high-level pitching as well as anyone who is looking for help in a specific area.

To participate in the certification program you must first complete a background check and pass an online course about preventing sexual abuse. You must then sign and return the Standards of Instruction Affirmation and Code of Ethics for Coaches documents.

One of the best parts is there are also videos that show Rick Pauly working on these principles with different students. You get to be the proverbial fly on the wall as Rick works with a pitcher. That means you can see the individual repetition failures as well as the successes and how Rick approaches corrections.

In fact, for many pitching coaches these “live” sessions may be the best part as it enables you to see how a very successful pitching coach works. All too often we are stuck in our bubbles, with just our own approach to go by. These videos provide a unique and valuable perspective.

At the end of each course there is also a quiz to test your knowledge. If you are going for High Performance Pitching certification you must take and pass these tests. If you are not, or you are just cherry-picking certain videos, the quiz is optional.

You must also complete a personal interview with Rick or Sarah, either in-person or online, before you can be certified.

Finally, there is the Elite program which focuses more on advanced movement pitches, increasing speed, changing speeds, improving location of pitching and other topics. You must first take and pass the Intermediate certification program as a prerequisite to taking the Elite certification program.

(Full disclosure: I have completed both and am now Elite-level certified.)

The Elite program includes 10 courses, again each of them running roughly an hour. To achieve certification you must again take all the courses and pass all the quizzes. I believe you also have the ability to cherry-pick certain courses if you don’t want to follow the entire program.

In all, to become Elite level certified you will complete 22 courses, 150 lessons and 22 quizzes. It is all self-paced so you can do it when you have time.

For the Intermediate and Elite levels there is a $200 registration fee. You must then pay $29.95 for each of the individual courses. It is definitely an investment of money as well as time.

But is it worth that level of investment? Absolutely. I’ve been teaching pitchers for 20 years using the same approach yet I learned some nuances and concepts that will affect the way I teach going forward.

For someone who was brought up in the “hello elbow, paint your way through the release zone, slam the door” school (including former pitchers) it will be even more valuable because you will learn a way of teaching that produces better results for your students while keeping their shoulders, arms, knees and other body parts safer.

The goal of High Performance Pitching is to revolutionize the way fastpitch pitching is taught. In speaking with Rick, his main concern is all the harm that is being done to pitchers through poor instruction.

He wants to inform and educate parents and coaches, and offer an accessible, definitive resource that makes it easier to develop high quality, healthy fastpitch pitchers.

If you are involved in pitching in any way, at any level, it’s worth checking out.

And if you are a parent seeking a certified coach who follows the High Performance Pitching principles, be sure to check out the Certified Coach Locator. It lets you know who in your area you can turn to for high-level instruction.