To All the Girls I’ve Coached Before

Over a decade in coaching, ensures you meet a lot of people. A lot of parents, a lot of coaches. The softball community is vast, but smaller than you think.

Now that I am approaching the final year of 18U ball, I am blown away by the memories of all the girls I have coached before, and how often they cross my mind. While I thought I would remember those BIG wins, and those heartbreaking losses – the truth is I remember the faces, the laughter, and the dugout conversations much more!

Some girls made me literally insane. They tested and tried every fiber of my coaching being. And yet as insane as they drove me, there is not much I wouldn’t do now, to see them on the field one more time. Oh the memories, of me standing as the 3rd base coach, waving them to run and them just standing there looking at me like they have no idea what I am doing. Doesn’t matter that we have worked on those signs a zillion times…frozen, like a deer in headlights they would stand on 2nd with me jumping up and down like a gorilla. As much as I would want to yell at them, they would run off the field with a certain kind of smile that said, “Woops,” and all I could do was pat them on the helmet and bite my tongue.

I have had girls (yes more than one) that were late to everything. Every practice, every game, every tournament. In fact, we knew they would be late so they were removed from the group text and they were given a text of their own that said everything started 30 minutes earlier than it actually did. And they were still late! And in 14U, I thought it was the parents…but learned quickly as they started driving themselves to practice that it was really just all them all along.

The girls who would swing at that high pitch. Every. Single. Time. Usually for strike 3. The girl or two I have met through the years that seemed to simply lose everything and was the reason I kept two extra gloves and socks in my bucket. The girl who would cry when she pitched and no matter how much I encouraged her and tried to get her to see her awesome, she never quite could get it. She never saw in herself what I saw in her.

The girl who drove me nuts asking to stay late after every single practice to take a few ground balls, who ensured I was late for dinner all the time – just so she could take a few more. What she wasn’t blessed with in talent, she was blessed with in determination.

There was the girl who every time she made an error, would fall down and pretend she was ‘injured’ who I carried off the field many more times than once, more than likely to save her pride.

The girl who way back in 2004 – hit that game winning hit in the state championship after going 0″fer the entire tournament, whose smile and reaction at that moment lit up every single person at the ballpark and made them stand on their feet and cheer no matter which team they were actually cheering for.

The truth is that every single kid I have ever coached has left some sort of impression on me. Each kid that has crossed my path has left me with a memory. I have seen a complete array of personalities on my field – each one bringing something special to the table. And even the ones that drove me the most nuts, that I thought I couldn’t wait until they found another team – have left cherished memories. .

Over the years, some have quite, some have aged out, some chose to be cheerleaders, some are still playing. And when life decides to bless me, I will be at Wal-Mart and hear the familiar “Hey Coach,” and be swooped up in a hug that brings me back to the softball field. They always make me smile. They always make me laugh. They always have a favorite memory to share, something funny they remember, something special to share.

My hope, to all the girls I have coached before – and currently do, is that in somehow, some way – that I have left each of them a little better than they were before they stepped on my field. That I have said at least one thing to them that sticks, that they keep in their mental file and revert to. That each of them looks back and has something to smile or laugh about. That each and every girl that has ever played for me, knows that the impression and gift they gave to me, has been much more than I could ever give to them.

So today, as I sit here and drink my coffee, I want to tip my hat, and hold up my cup to each and every kid that takes on the field and that has left their handprint on my heart. They have made this fast-paced, crazy, softball life of mine one of my most favorite things. How blessed are we as coaches to get to know these girls as not just athletes and teammates – but as humans as well.

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ATTENTION PITCHERS! BIG, BIG Changes coming Your Way!

PITCHERS! Let’s get right to this. This is new and you need to time to start making changes! There are BIG changes coming your way in 2020 in regard to rules!

There has always been a ton of scrutiny on pitchers. Is she pitching legally, are both her feet in contact with the rubber? Are her hands moving correctly? It seems that especially opposing coaches are always very concerned about the legality of the pitching machine displayed by the pitcher they are facing. (Poor Kelly Barnhill)

Umpires, coaches, parents, and pitchers who either DO NOT know the rules by organization, or do not understand the rules, definitely make it harder.

Well for 2020 rules are changing for several organizations of play, and we expect more to follow suit.

In 2020, NCAA, high school, PGF & ASA/USA rules will all allow you to be off the rubber with your back foot!!! (USSSA will be voting on rule changes in the near future, so stay tuned)

What does this mean? It means it will be legal to use that back foot/leg to give you more momentum thrusting forward, which will likely increase your pitch velocity. BUT….pitchers who have been rule followers and sticklers for form who have practiced for years how to maintain that back foot contact will have to RE-LEARN how to utilize this new tool in their box.

So now is the off season, and we urge pitchers, coaches, pitching instructors, and parents to familiarize themselves with the new rules, and start working on the changes. We also URGE you to be familiar with the organization you are playing and what their rules are.

Since this is not a uniformed rule throughout – pitchers will be expected to design their approach in the circle appropriately regardless of what fastpitch organziation rule body they are playing with.

If you are confused, need some help navigating the new rules, would like some videos on what this actually looks like – we suggest that you hit up Toni Paisley at Paisleys Pitching Academy. Here is a link to her website! She will be able to help you navigate these changes.

PAISLEYS PITCHING ACADEMY!

We have also attached some further rule changes for USA (previously ASA) softball for the 2020 year!

Rule 3, Section 5E: Helmets shall have a non-glare (not mirror-like) surface. Comment: Specifies that helmets cannot have a surface that has a mirror-like finish.

Rule 6A, Section 1C: Both feet must be on the ground within the 24-inch length of the pitcher’s plate. The shoulders shall be in line with first and third bases. The pitcher shall take a position with their pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and their non-pivot foot in contact with or behind the pitcher’s plate. Comment: Allows female pitchers to start with one or two feet on the pitcher’s plate. This aligns the male and female pitching rule as it relates to foot placement.

Rule 6A, Section 1E: The pitcher shall bring their hands together for not less than one second and not more than 10 seconds before releasing the ball. A backward step may be taken before, simultaneous with or after the hands are brought together. The pivot foot must remain in contact with the pitcher’s plate at all times prior to the forward step.
Comment: Allows female pitchers to take a backward step from the pitcher’s plate, before, during or after the hands are brought together. This aligns the male and female pitching rule as it relates to stepping back from the pitcher’s plate.

Rule 6A, Section 11B&C, Rule 7, Section 5D: (Junior Olympic Fast Pitch Only) Eliminates the penalty of advancing a runner one base without liability to be put out from the effect of committing an illegal pitch. Comment: In Junior Olympic Fast Pitch ONLY, when an illegal pitch is declared, the penalty is only a ball on the batter. We no longer advance runners in Junior Olympic Fast Pitch as part of the penalty.

Rule 7, Section 6C: Add Effect: 5. All other runners return to the base occupied at the time of the pitch. Comment: Aligns the penalty for Altered and Non-Approved bats with the penalty for an Illegal bat. Better defines where runners who are not out should be placed.

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Keeping the Softball Skill Plates Spinning

Henrik_Bothe_plate_spinning

If there is one image that perfectly describes the challenge of keeping fastpitch softball skills (especially pitching and hitting) sharp, it’s the old circus act of the plate spinner. (For those of you who have never seen one in action, here’s a video. Sorry you have to watch an ad first.)

If you don’t feel like watching the video, basically what you had was a set of sticks across a long table. The spinner would get one going on top of a stick, then get another going, and so on until each stick had a plate spinning on top of it.

Of course, the challenge was that while he (it’s almost always a he) was getting the next plate going, the previous ones would be losing momentum. As a result, he constantly had to jump from one plate to another and give them a tweak until he had them all going well at the same time.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it? When you’re working on complex skills such as pitching or hitting, there are a lot of moving parts. Just like there are a lot of moving plates.

While you’re working on one thing, say leg drive for pitchers, another part of the pitch such as the long, loose arm may start “wobbling.” So then you have to take care of that again.

And as you’re doing that, the pitcher starts closing too early or too much, gets off the power line, starts throwing her glove out to the side or develops some other issue.

If you see that happening, the good news is you’re not alone. It’s actually pretty common, and not just among the very youngest players. Even the most accomplished players will start to wobble now and then in one area or another. That’s why college, pro and national teams have hitting, pitching and other specialty area coaches.

So how do you deal with it? Here again you can take a cue from the plate spinner.

When he sees a plate begin to lose momentum he doesn’t try to run over to it before he gets the plate he’s working on spinning properly.

(In fact, I’d bet that seeing plates wobble is good for the act, because it introduces a sense of concern. How interesting would plate spinning be if the plates were never in danger of falling off the stick?)

Coaches and parents should do the same. Work on one thing at a time and get it going well before going back and addressing a previous issue that is cropping up again. If the player is struggling you can let her know what the other issue is to reassure her that all her mechanics aren’t falling apart and that you’ll address the problem later.

Another good idea is to learn your craft so you’re aware of what’s urgent and what can be dealt with later. Again, a plate may be wobbling but it might be capable of going on for a while before it actually becomes an issue. Knowing what to address (and when) is essential for securing long-term success.

Finally, understand that the player is probably going to break a few plates as she learns her mechanics. That’s ok.

Failing in some aspects is part of the learning process. I have no personal experience with plate spinning, but before you pay good money to see someone perform this amazing feat he probably spent a lot of time learning how to get one plate spinning, then two, then three, etc. In the meantime, a lot of dishware was harmed.

Eventually, though, with a lot of effort he was able to put on an entertaining, dramatic show.

Your players will be the same. Pitchers may struggle to throw strikes or hit spots as they work to become the best they can be. Hitters may swing and miss a lot before they start driving the ball.

But if you stay focused on the process rather than the immediate results, the results in time will take care of themselves.

So if you’re facing that situation right now – even if a lot of the plates of wobbling – don’t freak out. It’s a natural part of the learning experience.

If she is motivated, eventually your player will get all the plates spinning fast and tight so she can thrill the crowd. And you can take your bow.

 

Image courtesy of Henrikbothe [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

 

Girl, TUCK in your Softball Uniform shirt!

It’s that time of year again. (Or at least it should be) If you are managing or coaching a team, then you need to start thinking about Softball UNIFORMS! And you need to do it sooner rather than later, because come January you will be waiting in line behind thousands of other teams scrambling to get it together.

And yes, softball uniforms matter. To the girls especially. While we totally believe that when you first start out, you can go out there in simple t-shirts, we also believe that upgrading the uniforms is a wonderful thing for teams to earn. In fact, using new, matching professional looking uniforms as incentive for team building really does work.

Our favorite softball uniform company to date is Two Five Apparel. We have used them for many years (after using other options) for our own teams and find that not only are the uniforms truly custom (meaning you won’t look like every other team out there) they have an art and design staff that can bring to life any look, with any color combination that you want and their customer service is unsurpassed.

The quality is exceptional, and the prices are affordable for softball families. They can do sublimated, screened or stitched uniforms can provide spirit wear for your parents, and have something that will fit into everyone’s budget.

Two Five Apparel SIFG ad

So here are some things to consider while Uniform Shopping!

  1. If you know your team colors, go with that – and DO NOT, by all means, ASK YOUR ENTIRE TEAM FOR INPUT on the uniforms you choose. Seriously, you will get a zillion different opinions and then someone will get mad because they didn’t get their way, and another person will be mad about something else, and you WILL NEVER PLEASE EVERYONE! We promise if you give your logo and colors to Two Five they will make you something truly unique that everyone will LOVE.
  2. If you do tank tops, make sure you confirm the fit. And, If you choose racer backs, make sure the team is aware that they will need sports bras to go underneath them – or include that in your apparel fees, so you aren’t ‘that’ team with bra straps hanging out. ((Tacky))
  3. Make sure you can order a sizing kit. Two Five Apparel will send you a sizing kit for a refundable fee and it is a LIFE SAVER! Make sure that when the kids TRY on the uniforms an adult is with them, because LORD KNOWS THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THAT ONE GIRL WHO ORDERS HER STUFF ONE SIZE TOO SMALL, and when the uniforms come her mama will not be happy!
  4. Try to avoid anything STARK WHITE around the collar (although we love the crisp and professional look of WHITE) We all know the kids use the collar of their shirt to wipe off the dirt and sweat. With Two Five Apparel, you can customize each aspect of the uniform and we typically try to stay away from white in that specific area!
  5. Make sure you get uniform jerseys that you can pair with several different color stock pants (black, white, grey). This enables you to have a different look, and if you lose or gain players they will be able to match your team on game days.
  6. ORDER EXTRA JERSEYS!!! Yes, someone will lose theirs. Yes, you will need a pick up at some time. Yes, players will leave and a new one will come. Plan ahead, and order at least 3 extra jerseys and err on the side of larger sizes rather than smaller.

Last, but not least!!! Don’t ruin a perfectly professional, sharp, and amazing uniform by letting the kids show up untucked and without belts! That just looks so sloppy! The kids are representing something more than themselves, and the name on the front of the JERSEY is much more important than the name on the back! So GIRL….TUCK IN YOUR SHIRT!

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Plant the Seeds for Softball Success Early

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It is Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. as I write this, and I have to say I love Thanksgiving.

It’s the quintessential American holiday. How can you not love a holiday whose sole purpose is to eat until you feel sick, take a break, then go back for dessert?

It’s no wonder American is the most obese nation in the industrialized world. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Even the decorating themes for Thanksgiving revolve mostly around food. Particularly the cornucopia, basically a horn with a bunch of vegetables, fruit or other healthy foods (ironically) falling out of it. I say ironically since vegetables are the thing least likely to be eaten at a Thanksgiving dinner. 

cornucopia-of-vegetables

Not a carb in the entire photo.

(Those of you reading this who are not from the U.S. really need to come here sometime and experience just what this holiday means. You will probably be blown away and appalled at the same time.)

Thinking about all of that food being prepared all over the U.S., however, got me thinking about how all those veggies get on the table in the first place. It’s not like they just suddenly appear out of nowhere. They all start out as seeds that must be planted and cultivated long before they’re actually consumed.

It’s the same with fastpitch softball skills. With rare exceptions, players can’t just walk out on the field and start performing. They also can’t start working on their skills a week or two before the season starts and expect to be able to play at their highest possible level.

Instead, the seeds need to be planted early. And like seeds, at first you may not see much happening.

But then those skills start to sprout a little. You notice little improvements, like throwing a little harder or getting to balls that were out of reach before.

green and yellow tractor on dirt

Committing to the metaphor. Photo by John Lambeth on Pexels.com

As time goes on, if you continue to cultivate those skills they continue to grow until they’re ready to be harvested in a game.

On the other hand, if you plant the seeds then ignore the “field” for a while, the skills may appear somewhat but they’ll be smaller, scragglier and less bountiful than they could have been. Which means you’ll be left hungry, wishing you’d done more to ensure a cornucopia of performance that will last the entire season.

So keep that idea in mind as you decide whether you’re too tired, or too busy, or too whatever to start honing your skills right now. The season may seem far away, but it will be here before you know it. Make sure you’re ready.

To my friends and followers here in the U.S., I wish you a healthy, happy Thanksgiving. To those of you from outside the U.S., I also wish you those blessings even if it’s just a regular old Thursday.

Thank you to all of you for joining me on this softball journey. I am grateful to share my thoughts with you.

And remember U.S. friends, if your Thanksgiving celebration gets boring, just bring up politics. That’s sure to get the party started.

 Main Thanksgiving image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

Another Great Life After Softball Story – Christina Smok

christina-smok-tanzania.jpg

One of the best things about coaching fastpitch softball, at least in my mind, is the opportunity to get to know so many great girls and their families. Still, these relationships tend to be fleeting, so it’s always cool to see what’s happened to a former player or student once you’re not sharing the same field.

Today I have the privilege of telling the story of a remarkable young women named Christina Smok. I only had the opportunity to coach her for a year, in her first year of

Christina Smok tag

Christina applies the tag. The girl looks out to me.

playing 14U travel ball, but it was a great year. I’ve included a nice action shot from that year here on the right.

Christina played catcher and third base, and did a great job at both. She worked hard, played hard, and always brought a great attitude. She continued to play through high school, but like many decided that college softball wasn’t for her.

That didn’t mean she gave up the game, however. Instead, unlike so many, she moved into coaching with the program she was a part of in the last few years of her career. She actually coached with her dad Pete, and her mom was always there to watch the team’s games as well. It was a real family affair. I believe she did this every summer while she was in college.

(Incidentally, I know all of this because in one of those “small world” happenings one of my current students, Allison Musgrove, was on her team. That was coincidence because I hadn’t started working with Allison yet when she joined that team, and Allison came to me through a different channel. It was just a common bond we discovered later.)

As great as all of that is, however, it’s not the reason I decided to tell this story. The real impetus was something non-softball I saw about her on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

While most of us are in our homes getting ready for Thanksgiving, Christina is currently

Christina Smok White Coat

Looking very medical.

in Tanzania. She has been studying to become a physical therapist (here’s a photo of her from her “white coat” ceremony), and as part of that education she is spending the next few weeks providing care to residents of this underserved* East African nation.

I mean, how cool is that? To go halfway around the world to help people who really need it? It’s not something everyone would do, but it doesn’t surprise me a bit. She had a can-do attitude when I coached her, and obviously she still has it now.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share. In the heat of the moment on the field, or even as the now 12-month season drags on, it’s easy to over-blow the importance of the softball component of your life. But that’s just one piece of a larger puzzle.

I’m sure Christina’s softball experiences throughout her career helped bring her to this point, along with the love and support of her family. But it’s not an end in and of itself.

Whether you go 4 for 4 or 0 for 4 at the plate, make a spectacular diving catch or boot a routine ground ball, strike out 12 or get knocked out in the first inning, etc. isn’t all that critical in the big scheme of things. What’s more important is how you use those experiences to shape your life.

Christina sets a great example for today’s players. Live your best life.

And if you like stories like this about former players giving back, keep an eye on this space. I’ll have another in a few weeks.

*How poor is Tanzania? It ranks 159 out of 187 countries on the U.N.’s Human Development Index, and its Global Hunger Index rating was the second-worst of all East African Community countries. So this isn’t exactly an easy jaunt.

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.

via GIPHY

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

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.

buy softball and baseball wall rack at amazonSoftball Glove Ball Holder Trophy

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 CHARM BRACELET

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 SHIRTS

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 EARRINGS

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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CUSTOMIZED Softball TANK TOP

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

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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EMBROIDERED TRUCKER HAT

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.

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NIKE HEADBAND

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

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 HEADBAND

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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PERSONALIZED NECKLACE

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

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 LUNCHBOX COOLER

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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FASTPITCH SPINNER

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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THE XELERATOR

Xelerator

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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SWING TRAINER

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 CASE

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.