“Put the VERY Best nine on the field”, they say Let the very best players make the play! But when it comes to which nine to choose Everyone has very different views. Who will catch, who will pitch? If Sally starts can her and Em switch? If Meg goes to first, and Lou to 2nd, Then Babs will have to play short, I reckon. But then, the outfield will be quite bare Because no ones mom wants their daughter out there. And if Jordan plays 3rd and Mo’s at first Then Lilas dad will have an outburst. Then there’s Jo, Mack, Mary and Grace Where will they play, who goes in which space? We have 12 girls that helped get us to the BIG GAME Choosing the best nine, just seems insane. What so many always seem to forget Is that it takes more than just 9 to be a threat. We need girls to cheer, and girls to play And girls to come in when their teammate has a bad day. We may need more than one girl to pitch If the balls keep landing in the ditch. And what happens if someone gets hurt Who will we call to fill her shirt. Plus some girls are fast, and some girls bunt Some are better at keeping the ball in front. One day she’s on, and one day she’s not We need to have players for every spot. And what we did today, took them all to achieve. Thinking it just takes nine is my biggest pet peave. The bench has to be ready to come in and play If the girls in the field are not having a good day. We take 12 to practice, 12 to the field Chose 12 for the season to as ONE TEAM yield. We win as one, and we lose as one, too We stick together no matter what we go through. So at the end of the day when you ask for the best nine Forgive me if I have more than that in mind. Because each girl was chosen to be on my team And I believe they are part of one big grand scheme. While to you, it may seem it only takes 9 to win The truth is, it takes the entire team to be kin. So no matter where or what position she plays NO matter who goes out or who in the dugout stays Where we go one, we go all - win, lose or draw And, On MY team it takes all 12 to win it all!
If you have watched the game long enough, you realize pretty quick that softball. like life is a game of adjustments.
One thing we notice with prevalence especially among the younger players is that it is their failure to adjust that often leads to bad outcomes.
We have a generation of youngsters that do not want to adjust to things around them, and who think that doing the same thing over and over again, will bring different results. NEWSFLASH. It doesn’t!
If there is one takeaway from softball, or sports in general – it is that every situation requires players to be able to have a lenient mindset. They cannot approach every ground or fly ball, every pitcher they face, every teammate, every coach the same way. They have to remain flexible and willing to BE THE CHANGE they want to see in their game.
In fact, softball takes constant adjustments both offensively and defensively.
There is nothing (and we mean NOTHING) more frustrating than kids who come in the dugout one by one, all complaining and whining that the low drop ball they struck out LOOKING on (for the second time), was NOT a strike, even though they watched their teammates before them strike out on the same pitch.
We got news for you kids. If the umpire is calling it a STRIKE, it’s a strike and you better learn to freaking adjust your mindset and approach at the plate.
And you know what? It’s still a strike even if your parents are complaining behind home plate that it wasn’t. Even if your coach agrees that maybe it was a little low in the zone. Even if your teammates think you were cheated. The bottom line is that YOU have to adjust to the game.
The players have to not only be accountable but responsible FOR adjustments. They have to be given the tools to make decisions during the game that put them in the best position to make the play. They have to be vigilant participants in WATCHING the game and learning everything they can from an opponent while the game is going on.
Life is not going to adjust to us. Life is not going to adjust to our kids. If our kids stand in the batters box, and swing the exact same way every time, just waiting for a ball to magically make contact at the exact spot where they swing, they are going to fail.
One of the best things we can for young athletes is teach them how to adjust. This needs to be done in practice, and coaches need to empower our daughters to make decisions during game situations WITHOUT BEING TOLD.
And moms and dads need to stop making excuses when the kids don’t adjust. When kids fail to recognize ways they can succeed, they need to be asked “Well, what could YOU have done differently?”
Coaches need to start early, asking players that same question.
What could you have done differently when facing that change up? What could you have done differently to make that play in the outfield? What could you have done differently to ensure you were covering the base?
What can YOU do in practice, or at home, to prepare yourself better?
So what do we do from here on out?
We celebrate moments of adjustments. We let our kids know that they and they alone are responsible for making adjustments. We hold them accountable when they don’t. We stop making excuses. We hold them responsible for being too rigid, and we give them back the power to make the changes necessary to find success on their own, on and OFF the field.
The post Ladies…Would you PLEASE JUST Learn to Freakin’ ADJUST YOURSELF!? appeared first on Softball is for Girls.
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|Youth Softball Catcher Gear Sets (Click on link and skip to the product review)||Images|
Louisville Slugger Youth PG Series 5 Catchers Set
|Under Armour PTH Victory Catchers Kit|
|EASTON M3 Softball Catcher Box Set|
|Mizuno Boy’s Youth Samurai Gear Set for Catcher|
|Wilson EZ Youth Softball Catcher Gear Set|
|Easton Prowess Qwikfit Fast Pitch Youth Softball Catcher Gear Set|
|MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear Pack|
|My Recommendation: |
My Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set
You may have seen professional catchers using safety gear sets. And now, your child is playing as position 2 and you are worried about his/her safety which is not uncalled for. Softball equipment is essential to protect your little ones from foul tips, flying bats and other players sliding at the plate. After reading this article, you will know how to choose and hopefully decide on the youth softball catchers gear sets you are going to get for your child with our recommendations.
6 Considerations BEFORE buying Catchers gear set:
These considerations should be in your mind before selecting the catcher gear set for your children:
1) Size dimension:
Before buying, you should know what is right to buy. These catcher gears come in various sizes and dimensions for a different age. So, you have to select the right size of helmet, chest guard, leg guard, and catcher’s mitt according to your children’s’ age. Some of the chest protectors come with the feature of the room to grow. This feature helps in fitting and adjustment.
Secondly, I’m sure you would not compromise on quality as it is the one which ensures safety. Hence better quality should be your first priority. Make sure the catcher set you are select should be approved from NOCSAE because NOCSAE has protection standards for safety. The product approved by NOCSAE is a little bit expensive but worth buying.
3) Buy in set:
Moreover, don’t go for buying individual gear sets. They will cost you more and maybe different in qualities. Buy them in the whole set and make sure they are adjustable and lightweight because it matters a lot. Adjustment in size is necessary for proper fitting and it has to be lightweight for your comfort.
4) Helmet view:
Try to select the helmet is looks like a hockey style. Wikipedia stated that the catcher has the most comprehensive job. They have to analyze the game because they can see all the players on fields. So, this hockey style helmet provides the whole exposure of the field by which the catcher can analyze the game better.
5) Shoulder flaps:
Well, some of the catcher gear comes with only one shoulder flaps while some best brands offer both. One-shoulder flap compromise on protection and as well as if your youngsters are left-handed it would be a problem for them.
6) Hidden feature(s), if any:
Some product has some hidden feature which is not mentioned in their specification. Like some of the brands also provide throat protection with the gear set. But they usually not mention it. But don’t worry we will discuss these features in detail below.
We have conduct researches in our online and local community keeping in mind in recommending you the bests of catcher gear sets in terms of qualities and features.
Our picks for Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for 9-12
Here is the list of our Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for your 9-12:
Louisville Slugger Youth PG Series 5 catchers set
The Louisville Slugger has a glossy look. It shines in all of its beautiful colors. Your child will be spoilt for choice just on colors alone. One of the appealing features is that it comes with 6 different colors mixture and these color combines to give 9 different color contrast combinations. Gear set has a helmet, shin guard and chest protector for both boys and girls. The size range is 12 inches for chest protector, 13 inches for shin guard and helmet fits (6 3/8-7)
You don’t have to be worried about its quality as it is approved by NOCSAE. Hence it is solid and safe. The helmet is not just solid; it has a sleek glossy look plus its mask gives you a wide-field view. It is specially designed for catchers to have a wide and clear exposure to the field.
I’m sure your youngster would love its fitting. Because chest guard comes with over the shoulder harness for better fitting. The foam padding in the chest protector is also dynamic as it gives the pleasure of comfort to the catcher.
The shin guard of Louisville Slugger has double knee design which allows the enhance movement of your youngster without any restriction. This design helps to have better performance on the field as it provides ease to the player in the movement.
It has a great ventilation system in it, as it is made up of metallic mesh cover which allows passing air through it. This metallic mesh has one more quality, that it makes this kit light-weight. Obviously Young player doesn’t want a heavy gear set which makes them tired. Therefore, Louisville Slugger has not compromised on the weight of the catcher gear set.
- Your youngster will love the attractive combination of colors that Series 5 has.
- Superior quality and comfort that your child deserves
- The crotch shield is detachable
- The helmet is small or too tight for some youngsters
- It does not come with a gear bag.
- Shin pad strap is not strong, might become loose when you do squats.
Under Armour PTH Victory Catchers Kit:
One of the most famous catchers gear set because of its design. As it looks like Easton Natural catcher gear. It is specially made for youth, therefore, it comes with adjustable shoulder pads so it fit properly on all 9-12 years old. These shoulder pads have foam inside to maintain protection and providing comfort for your child.
This kit contains catching helmet, chest protection, and leg guards. The helmet has the size (6 to7 inches), chest protector comes with (14.5 inches) from sternum to navel and leg guards are 13 inches from cleat to the kneecap. It comes in four colors Black, navy blue, royal blue, and red. And it is for both boys and girls.
It is made up of ABS plastic that offers a light-weight kit that enhances your child’s performance. This ABS plastic is high impact resistant which deflects and absorbs the hits. The helmet has ABS shell inside it and it also has a BAR VISION which gives your youngster a perfectly clear view on the field. As well as this plastic makes it more durable as users claimed that it is long-lasting.
A chest protector is designed in such a way which makes it easy to wear and remove. In addition, it has foam on both inside and outside. Inside foams give comfort and outside low rebound foam is for easy recovery of ball.
Airflow is a very vital requirement of a catcher from these kits. And Under Armour kit offer 38 ventilation spaces so the player cannot feel suffocation.
AEGIS Microbe shield is very helpful as it protects from bacteria and moisture. As these catchers get dirty and sticky very easily so this feature is obviously very beneficial.
- This softball gear set by Under Armor comes with a throat protector. It is truly an amazing feature of this gear set to protect your 9-12 throat from any danger.
- Comfortable to wear because it is lightweight and has a foam coating inside.
- It comes in four amazingly attractive colors for your youngster to choose from
- Durable and heavy-duty because of the material used, ABS plastic.
- Does not comes with two shoulder flaps
- There is no Velcro for left-hand catchers
EASTON M3 SOFTBALL CATCHER BOX SET
This M3 set is designed for the youngster from 9 to 12 years old. This package has a helmet, chest protector with groin protector and leg guard. It has just one color(black). The quality and color look much better than others on it as it has a black matt finish on the chest. The chest protector has extra room to grow. Therefore, when your child grows a little bit, they can still use it for quite much time.
The size of the chest protector is 13.5-inch, helmet size (6-1/8-7) inches, and leg guard 12.7 inches leg guard. Easton is the manufacture of softball equipment and they are making high-quality gear sets for catchers for quite a long time. This gear set is specially made for the youngster as Easton tried to provide every safety feature a young catcher requires.
The helmet of Easton M3 meets the standard of NACSAE as the manufacturer has not compromised on build quality. The chest protector has a foaming pad inside and matt rubber outside. Inside foaming give comfort and outside matt rubber absorbs the hits. Many users gave remarks that Easton enhances the performance of their young catcher as it deadens the ball which makes it easy to recover.
Shin pad has a 3-piece strap system hence leg guard does not come off during the play. All the equipment is having a stronghold on the body and it is very easy to put on and off the kit. Adjustment of kit is also a key feature. You can adjust it according to your child physiques.
- A unique and different look than others (matt finish) which your little one would love to have.
- It is easy to put on and remove.
- Your child deserves the high quality of this set
- NOCSAE approved is a plus point for your little one safety.
- The helmet is too tight for some young children who hit puberty faster than average.
Mizuno Boy’s Youth Samurai Gear Set for Catcher
The Mizuno Samurai is indeed a very attractive gear set. You youngster will be proud to wear it. It has a black and grey color contrast combination which looks beautiful. It has enormous positive reviews from our community and mostly is praises for its high quality.
The set includes a Samurai helmet, Samurai chest protector, Samurai shin guards, and gear bag. The size range of helmet is (6 ½-7 ¼), Shinguard 14.5 inches and chest protector 14 inches for youth. This set is for both boys and girls ages 9-12 years old.
Mizuno Samurai gear set is one of the most professional gear sets your child catcher can wear. It has all the qualities and features that a professional catcher requires. Like it has a lot of space in the helmet so your child can wear glasses in it. Most of the catcher’s helmet does not allow this. Moreover, the helmet is made according to NACSAE standards therefore, it will protect your child from foul tips and harsh sliding of another player on the plate.
It has three-layer EVA foam padding inside it. This EVA foam padding is more comfortable and it does allow airflow through it. When your youngsters feel comfort while wearing this gear set their performance as a catcher would be better.
This Samurai set has many happy users, they gave a 5-star rating to this gear set in every aspect. Equipment of this catcher gear is also available in individual and quality is the same as this. But the user prefers complete gear set as it is economical.
- It worth every penny for its top-notch quality and your child will definitely love to have this.
- This is one of the top line professional softball gear set and your youngster totally deserves it.
- Better comfort than its competitor with EVA foaming pads.
- The helmet liner might come off if not cleaned after every use.
- A couple of my softball community mums got the wrong size gear set so be really careful while selecting a size.
Wilson EZ Youth Softball Catcher Gear Set
If you are looking for some cheap but good quality catcher’s kit than here, we found one for you. This Wilson EZ gear kit is very economical. Its price is much lower than other catcher kit but its quality is not compromised by Wilson. As it is made of ABS plastic to protect your young catcher from balls all from 360 degrees.
It comes with four colors (Black, Navy, Royal, Scarlet). This gear set does not look much attractive but it will assist all the features another professional gear set gives. It is great for beginners who are learning softball drills. Your child can wear this kit while practicing. The large size is recommended for 9-12 years, old boys and girls.
The manufacturer claimed that it is very easy to put on and off as it has Quick Change technology. This Quick-Change technology will let your youngster to off and on the kit in less than 10 seconds. Well, putting on and off the catching kit is a difficult task so this is indeed an appealing feature.
The helmet has venting from it to keep the head cool and protective enough as NOSCEA approved it. It also has ABS shell inside so it is lightweight consequently your youngster will not be feeling tired while wearing it.
The leg guards are enough thick and have foam padding inside them.
The outside of shin pads is made up of rigid plastic to protect your child from any type of hit.
The chest protector has foam padding in it to provide the pleasure of comfort and its outside is also made up of rigid plastic. Although this rigid plastic does deaden the ball for a quick recovery it absorbs the hits very well.
- Very economical, you can have this under 100 bucks.
- Quality is good
- It will provide comfort to your child.
- Comes in 4 attractive colors
- Velcro wears out on both chest protector and leg guard.
Easton Prowess Qwikfit Fast Pitch Youth Softball Catcher Gear Set
Let your show this prowess in the field. I’m sure she will feel pride while wearing this. Easton is the manufacture of softball equipment and they are making high-quality gear sets for catchers for quite a long time. This gear set is specially made for young athlete girls as Easton tried to provide every safety feature a young catcher requires. Easton used engineering on every element to fit properly. Many softball coaches recommend this specifically for girl’s catchers.
It has an attractive professional look and you may have seen professional catchers wearing catcher gear sets like this. Easton always comes with attractive designs which makes catcher looks attractive on the field.
The catcher box set includes three pieces for the young female athlete. The chest protector, shin pad and helmet. The size of the chest protector is 13.5 inches, helmet (6 1/ 8 to 7) and leg guard is 12.7 inches long.
The helmet has three strap system and easy hook and loop system. It is hokey style helmet but there is not chin guard with it.
The chest protector has an adjustment system and button hooks so your young daughter will not have difficulties while putting on and off. The user gives positive reviews on amazon about the chest protector of Eastin prowess Qwikfit because it has foam layering inside it.
There are cool little straps on shin pads that are easy to put on and remove. Shin pads also have foaming layers in it and allow enhanced movement of the player without any discomfort.
- Specifically, design for female by Easton so your daughter would have a comfortable customized fitting.
- Attractive look to boost your daughter’s self-confidence.
- Durable equipment so that you would not have to replace it so frequently.
- It is easy to adjust.
- The size guide is pretty accurate.
- So far I have not heard any complaints about the quality of this catcher gear set in person or even online.
- I have gotten feedback about sizing. So be sure to measure and choose the size for your daughter properly.
- Knee saver might not fit on kit without modification according to one of my neighbors.
MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear Pack
Well if you are looking for a girl catcher gear pack then here is one of the best for your young catcher. MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear Pack is at an affordable price for your 9-12-year-old daughter. It comes in three colors (black, royal and scarlet). The design is not having a professional look as it is for young kids. But it will protect your young daughters as professional kits do. Because the material used by MacGregor is no less than any other. As they make many other sports equipment, they fairly know everything an athlete demands.
This catcher gear set includes Girls’ chest protector, 4-inch throat protector, helmet have combo catcher adjustments and dual knee leg guards. It is ideal for young female athletes as it has all required features a position 2 catcher requires. It is perfect for beginner catcher and your daughter can use this kit as practicing softball drills.
Foam padding is in the whole set for the comfort of the catcher. Reviews have shown that it is best in its price as it is durable and strong. The protection of the kit is approved by NOCSAE as it meets all the protection standards. Well, the whole kit has a ventilation system that keeps the body cool and comfortable. These features are necessary for catchers and MacGregor Girl’s Catcher gear pack has all these. So, count MacGregor Girl’s Catcher Gear pack in your list if you are looking for top catcher gear sets for your daughter.
- You will not need to spend money frequently to replace this gear set because it has great quality as well as high durability.
- It comes in 4 attractive colors and I am sure that your youngster will love the gorgeous color combination.
- Meet all standards of protection so rest assured because your child safety is in safe hands.
- Helmet and chest protectors are well padded to provide extreme comfort to your youngster.
- High-quality material is used for the chest protector cushions to provide that extra padding for your child.
- Some young kids that has larger than average sizes feedback the shin pads is a tad small.
- One of my friends told me that the chest protector was too large for her daughter.
Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set
Easton is the manufacture of softball equipment and they are making high-quality gear sets for catchers for quite a long time. This gear set is specially made for the youngster as Easton tried to provide every safety feature a young catcher requires.
This Easton Black Magic Catcher box set comes only in black color. Black color always gets attention and so does magic. That’s why it named black magic. But it is not just magic of color, this gear set has enormous qualities which your youngster would love to have.
Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set has protection from top to bottom for your young child. It comes to a protective helmet, chest protector and shin guards. The 9-12 years old gear set size range is 6-7 inches helmet, 14 inches chest protector and 12.7 inches leg guards. It has foam padding inside all the equipment for better comfort and mobility of the catcher.
The helmet is made up of ABS shell which ensures the protection of your child and it is also approved by NOCSAE, so you don’t have to worry about built quality. The helmet is look-alike hockey-style as it provides enormous exposure of field view from a solid steel cage mask.
Shin pads have double knee caps hence your young catcher can have a better movement behind the plate. This catcher box set is perfect for beginner catchers because Easton specifically constructs it for youth players. Moreover, many coaches of softball recommend their youth player to have this Catcher box set for better softball drills.
Not just this, it has a Velcro attachment system for the growing player. For this reason, your child can have a proper fitting. A chest protector is solid and has the ability to deaden the ball for easy recovery.
- It comes with an amazing fitting feature which your child can have a proper fitting.
- This Easton gear set is extremely comfortable as well as durable. Your child deserves the best!
- It is ideal for both boys and girls.
- Many of my softball community members’ children are loving it.
- Great reviews on Amazon as expected.
- Straps slide out of D ring easily for a minority.
By this guide, you can choose the best for your youngster as we have mentioned above Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for 9-12. All the products have different specifications and price. They may have some similar specification but some of them have very unique and appealing features. You have to choose accordingly and carefully. Make sure you are selecting the right size so your youngster can enjoy the play.
We have also mentioned what you should consider before buying the catcher gear set. Please read and note that consideration before buying. Try to get the best possible catcher gear set according to your requirements. It’s only when you get the best catcher gear set, your young catcher will then be able to give his/her best on the field
The post Top 8 Youth Softball Catchers Gear Sets for 9-12 (Updated in 2019) appeared first on Awesome Softball Drills.
Nowadays we hear so much about the awful sportsmanship we encounter on the softball fields. From obnoxious parents and arrogant players with attitudes, and rudeness and even fighting among parents – we had to share perhaps one of the most beautiful things we have ever experienced on the softball field.
As you may or may not be aware last week started the Georgia High School Associate State tournament in Columbus Georgia. Region winners from around the state play 2 rounds of a 2 for 3 series against the top 4 teams from regions around the state. The goal of course is to get to the Elite 8, who make it to the state tournament.
For Bremen High School, the second round of playoffs brought the a long 4 hour bus ride away to Berrien County, Georgia. The winner of this round would advance to the State Tournament.
So obviously, this is a big game. There are lots of emotions to work through. Lots of feels. Lots of energy. Dreams that will continue and come to an end.
Long story short, Bremen High School beat out Berrien County to advance in a 2 game sweep. This was a season ender for Berrien County which always brings a tremendous amount of emotions.
Unlike travel ball, in high school ball there is one championship game, and it culminates after months and months of becoming a team, and hundreds of hours of practice and a thousand miles of travel to play games on school nights. By October, teams are exhausted, and worn out and are digging deep to stay alive.
So getting knocked out in the second round of playoffs is painful for anyone. When you work so hard, which all these teams do, and come one game short of the end goal, it is heartbreaking.
But the amazing and most beautiful thing was that on Thursday during the first games of the state playoffs, Berrien County coaches and team mates showed up to watch.
And who did they come out and support? Bremen High School. The very team that knocked them out of the State Tournament.
Whose bleachers did they sit on? Who were they cheering for? Where did the coach and her team camp out to watch a game? None other than the Bremen Bleachers.
The kids from the team were delightful to say the least, polite, humble and encouraging. The coach was exactly the same. Instead of being bitter and hoping to see Bremen High School get knocked out, they were there cheering for the same team that knocked them out. They were there to learn, and to experience and exhilaration that comes from a State Championship.
And of all the teams at the tournament that they chose to cheer on, they chose Bremen High School, the same team that knocked them out.
Even more stunning was the fact that several of the players from the Berrien High School team reached out to several of the players from Bremen High School on social media, finding as many of them as they could, wishing them well, congratulating them, and cheering them on with words of encouragement, and generous personal messages that displayed a level of sportsmanship very seldom seen in youth sports today.
No one told these kids to do this. All we ever hear about is how awful social media is. And yet, girls who have never met before, girls who share the love of softball, who respect the game and their opponents, took the time to find players from Bremen High School and let them know they were cheering for them from so many miles away….
That is big. That is beautiful. THIS IS SOFTBALL!
That says a lot about not just the girls but the coaching staff and the parents who have raised these athletes. It speaks volumes for the expeectations and culture of the school itself and of team that Berrien County, Georgia is and will be. They are a young team, and we have no doubts that their attitudes and sportsmanship, love and respect of the game will take them far in the years to come.
And the kids from Bremen High School, want to say a HUGE thank you to these folks for being so supportive not only while we visited their school, but afterwards and through the State Tournament as well. We hope to be able to return the support in the year to come, because your team showed grit and fight and CLASS like none other.
And so Today, we tip our hats to the team from Nashville, Georgia in Berrien County Georgia!
The post The Classiest, Most Sportsmanlike Team in Softball | Berrien High School SOFTBALL appeared first on Softball is for Girls.
There is a joke I heard a long time ago that pretty much sums up the softball player recruitment and retention process. It goes like this:
This guy dies and meets St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. He’s excited about making it to Heaven, but St. Peter informs him that he is required to give the guy a choice about where he wants to spend eternity – Heaven or Hell. The guy is surprised, but figures rules are rules and goes along with it. St. Peter tells him he will get to check out each, then must make his decision.
He starts with a tour of Heaven. It’s everything he’d heard – angels sitting on clouds playing harps, everything white, everything calm and peaceful. It all seems pleasant enough and the guy is pretty sure what his decision will be.
Then he’s sent to Hell for a tour there. The Devil meets him at the Gate and welcomes him in warmly. As they walk inside the guy sees a huge party going on with plenty of alcohol, loud music and beautiful people dancing, singing and having the time of their lives.
“I’m shocked,” the guy says. “This isn’t what I pictured at all. I was expecting fire, brimstone and torture.”
“Fake news,” the Devil responds. “That’s just Heaven’s propaganda to try to keep humans from having a good time while they’re on Earth. It’s like this all the time.”
The guy joins in the party while he’s there, but pretty soon his time is up and he must go back to Heaven and give St. Peter his decision. “What do you think?” St. Peter asks him.
“Well, no one is more surprised than me but I am going to choose Hell,” the man says.
“Really?” St. Peter asks incredulously. “You realize this is for all eternity and there’s no going back?”
“Yes,” the man replies. “I appreciate all you’ve done but I’ve made my decision and that’s where I want to go.”
“Ok,” St. Peter tells him. “It’s your decision.” So St. Peter proceeds to do all the paperwork and send the guy off to his final destination. Once he walks inside, however, the man is shocked. All he can see in every direction is his worst nightmares – fire, brimstone, people being whipped and tortured in all sorts of horrible and creative ways.
“What is this?!” the guy screams. “Yesterday it was all parties and good times, and now it’s just horror after horror.”
At which point the Devil eyes him slyly and says, “Well, yesterday you were a prospect.”
The reason I recounted that joke is more and more I am hearing stories about players being promised the world by coaches during the tryout and/or recruiting process. But once they get there it’s a completely different stories.
Players are told they will pitch, but they never get time in the circle because they “don’t measure up” to the pitchers who were already there. They’re promised they will get plenty of time at an infield position, or catcher, or wherever but when game time comes – not just bracket play but even pool play or round robin friendlies – that playing time in that position never materializes. They’re told they don’t measure up to the girls in those positions (often coach’s kids, no surprise there) even though those girls are booting balls like they think they’re playing soccer, not fastpitch softball.
Hitters with high batting averages and OPS are being pushed down the lineup or sat on the bench entirely because they “aren’t used to seeing the level of competition” – even though they’ve already proven they can handle that level.
What becomes clear is that some coaches, hopefully a very small minority, are telling players and their families anything they want to hear in the courtship phase so they can round out their teams. They have no actual intention of providing those players with the opportunities they seek. They just want them there in case they need body to fill in should one of the “starters” get sick or go down with an injury.
Of course, they don’t want a weak link, so they want to get the best backups they can find. But they’re talking to those backups like they have a legitimate chance of taking over a starting position when that is never, ever going to happen – either because the coach doesn’t think the new player is as good as the current ones, or he/she is looking at his/her own kids through rose-colored parent glasses, or wants to be “loyal” to the current players, or has some other agenda.
It’s ok to view some players as starters and others as backups. It happens all the time at all levels. All I’m saying is then be honest with the player and her parents about the role she will play on the team.
Don’t tell her she will get pitching time when you have no intention of putting her in the circle. And don’t use one bad outing the first time out as an excuse to never pitch her again. She was probably nervous, having joined a new team and all and wanting badly to prove herself. That goes double if the team is a step or two up from her last team.
Instead, give her a few opportunities and then make your judgment. Anyone who works with analytics will tell you that you need a sufficient amount of data to spot a trend. One game, or a couple of innings, isn’t a sufficient amount of data.
The same goes with positions on the field. Don’t tell a player she will get an opportunity in the infield if you feel your infield is set and you don’t want to change it. Let her know where her opportunities are so she can make an informed decision about whether this is the team for her.
The same goes for getting on the field at all. If you see her as a backup or role player, be up-front about it. For example, if you want a speedy player to primarily be a courtesy or pinch runner, tell her that rather than saying she’ll get an opportunity at second base when you know that’s not true.
If you are honest about a player’s opportunities or role, the player and her parents will have no real cause to complain when what you said she would do is what she ends up doing. It’s only when coaches say anything so they can fill up their rosters that the trouble begins.
And it will begin. Because what you’ll likely find is that players who are promised a world of opportunities but instead get nothing of the kind will leave as soon as they figured out they’ve been had.
That, of course, is also the difference between the joke above and the reality of softball. In the joke, the decision of where to go was forever. In our sport, if your coach doesn’t want to play someone there’s always someone else who could use her particular set of skills.
So tough as it can be, coaches, be honest. In the long run it’s better for everyone. Including your own team. Because as big as the sport may seem, fastpitch softball is also a small, tight-knit community, especially at the local level, and people talk.
You build a reputation as someone who makes promises with no intention of delivering on them and it won’t be long before people are avoiding your team/program like the plague.
Yes, it can be tough to have those conversations, and there is a risk of pushing players away you might like to have. But it will save you a whole lot of drama and upheaval. And that alone may be worth it.
Hang around a softball field even for just a couple of games and you’re likely to hear a well-meaning third base coach tell a hitter “You’re pulling your head out!” The implication is that rather than watching the ball all the way into the hitting zone (or to the bat, which you’re actually unlikely to do due to a concept called angular velocity) the hitter is swinging her neck around in a way that takes her eyes away from the hitting zone.
Seeing the ball for as long as possible IS important, especially as those crafty pitchers develop late-breaking movement pitches. Hitters definitely want to follow the ball in rather than having their eyes looking up the baseline.
But the root cause of the problem isn’t the hitter’s head or neck. They actually have a fairly limited range of motion. The actual problem is that the front shoulder is pulling out, usually in an attempt to get the body to rotate as part of the swing.
Don’t believe me? Try this quick experiment. Stand up in a relaxed position, facing forward. Now, without moving your shoulders try turning your head/neck.
If you’re like me, about the best you can do comfortably is around 90 degrees, which is basically looking straight at the pitcher. It wouldn’t be too difficult from there to continue following the ball.
Now reset to your original position and pull your front shoulder out, allowing your head to go along with it. Now where are you looking? Probably somewhere between the shortstop and the third base line for a right handed hitter.
The only way to follow the ball now is to look back against the direction your shoulder and head are turning. That’s going to be difficult, because your head naturally wants to go in the same direction your torso is turning. Probably has something to do with our primitive survival instincts where we needed to see the danger and be in the best position to react to it.
So the reality is it’s not the head that’s the problem. It’s the front shoulder pulling away.
Of course, it’s not just the ability to see the ball that’s affected. When the front shoulder pulls out the bat’s angle of attack also changes. So instead of driving into the ball, the bat is more likely to deflect it to the opposite field, especially on inside pitches.
The hitter doesn’t fully engage the bat when contact is made either, which affects power. Again tough to drive the bat through the ball effectively when the upper body is pulling away from the ball.
The point is, drills to correct the head pulling out, such as the popular one where the hitter bites down on her jersey, aren’t going to be very effective on their own because you’re treating the symptom rather than the “disease.” In fact, if the front shoulder is pulling out instead of staying in place early in the swing, biting down on the jersey over that shoulder will actually encourage what you’re trying to correct.
The key, instead, is to get hitters to understand the importance of keeping the front shoulder in and driving the hips and then the shoulders, in sequence, around the front side. Take the back side into the ball, rather than pulling the front away, and the head/eyes problem will take care of itself.
Not only that, the hitter will be in a far better position to not only see the ball but attack it with all of her power, at the right time and the right position along its flight path from the pitcher to the plate. It’s a win all the way around.
Understand that when you’re trying to teach a hitter how to rotate the body into the ball it’s easier and more natural to pull the front side out, because that allows her to spin around her center. Just the way you would spin if you were playing “helicopter.”
It takes work and discipline to learn how to drive around the front side instead. But the effort will definitely be worth it.
I know I took longer than normal to write again, but life happens!!
Team USA finished up the 2019 season in Japan, where we captured the Japan Cup. It was a fun trip. Even though we had gold on our minds, we had a lot of time to hang out as a team. We spoke at an American High School one afternoon since our practice was rained out. It was fun to have them ask so many questions and hear all my teammates’ answers. The summer flew by, and I still am learning new things about my teammates each day!
The month between coming home from Japan and tryouts, I went back to work at Texas State. It was exciting to see my girls’ faces again and share a little bit about my summer. Some of the best moments, when not on the road, are sharing the experience with my athletes. There are so many things, on and off the field, I dealt with this summer, that I can share. Off the top of my head, nothing is REALLY like riding a bike. I won’t use that analogy anymore, lol. Your mind is really your most powerful tool, and when in doubt, you have to believe in yourself before you can believe in anything else.
In the month home, I kept busy. I was in the weight room 3 times a week and running 2 days a week. I met Danielle Lawrie’s challenge to do 7-straight days of the Peleton. It was a great challenge. Seriously, I am glad she and I share things because it’s a comfort to know that what we experience is similar. She obviously has her hands fuller than mine with two children, but let me add 8U softball to my calendar! My step-daughter began playing softball this fall, and I volunteered to assist the team. It’s a new challenge, but it’s so fun to see how excited they get just to make a good throw or make contact with the ball. One mom asked me at one of the first practices, “did you ever think you’d be doing this… pitching to 8-year-olds?” I chuckled because no, I don’t think I ever predicted that in my life, but boy am I glad it’s happening. It’s also fun to watch Bracken (my step-daughter) pitch. She’s pretty good for 8 and having practiced maybe 10 times. Everything she does, she learned from watching, which is another great reminder that kids are ALWAYS watching. She was even licking her fingers between pitches. Lol.
I’m the biggest Astros fan there is... I grew up watching Biggio & Bagwell take the field.... tonight, my childhood dream came true!! Appreciative of the time for a quick photo. This is going up on a wall.
I also got to check off a Bucket List item before I left for OKC. I was fortunate to be invited to the Nolan Ryan Foundation dinner and met my two childhood heroes, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. I actually met Biggio once before, when he caught a first pitch I threw out, but to see them both (and get a picture with them) was a dream come true!! Yes, I still fangirl over people!
Tryouts were the first week of October, and the week was so emotion-packed. Pitchers only threw 2 days, and I was the last one on our list. So, after drills on Wednesday, I got a lift in and watched everyone play… then Thursday I watched everyone play, then got to pitch that night. Friday was a repeat of Wednesday (minus the drills) and Saturday I brought it home, throwing the last game of the tryout. I felt good mentally and physically at tryouts. Not sure I threw my best, but it was good in my opinion. Then we were left to wait until Sunday morning.
Sunday was nerve-wracking. My roommate left the hotel, to be by herself to process the news when we got it. I totally understood, but I was sitting in the room with no idea what to do. I ended up going through my morning routine of reading the Bible, my devotional and journaling. A little before 8:30 I sent out a few texts to teammates letting them know my thoughts were with them, and then I waited! 8:30 came, and first I saw my roommate’s, Ally Carda, name on the list. I shouted, even though I was alone in my room. Then I went back to the email to see my name.
As has been reported, I opted for the Family Group text to share the news. I then called my husband, but he was still asleep!! Seriously, how are you sleeping when you know your wife is getting big news?? I thought my dad would be golfing, so I called my mom and talked with her until I saw the email that said we needed to go downstairs to a meeting.
It was absolutely awesome to be there together and share the emotions of finding out who made the team. We have never done that before, and I think watching all of us rush to hug and congratulate everyone as they came down was just the coolest thing.
This group is special, and my heart is so full as we go our own ways for a bit. To say this journey will be exciting is an understatement. I really can’t wait to write this chapter of USA Softball with these 17 women.
We spent two days meeting and getting photos and media spots done. We had team dinner where we got to kick back and enjoy each other’s company. It’s really is fun to learn everyone’s stories and start to gel as a team.
Before heading home, I had brunch with Lauren Chamberlain. She and I were roommates in January, for 2019 USA tryouts. Even though we were teammates with the Pride, we weren’t that close. Since January, this woman has inspired me but also become a great friend. We caught up on life over great food, and it just made me realize that it’s totally worth it to take the time to see people who bring the good stuff to your life.
I got back on the grind today, working out and throwing. It will be a fun transition into training for THE purpose now. But, I also look forward to the 8U practices and games, a few appearances I have lined up, and being able to be HOME. After all, home is what makes all of this possible.
“How to practice catching softball by yourself” – This is one of the more frequently asked questions for catchers who want to improve themselves when official team training is not on.
Why practice catching softball alone?
There are many situations where maybe your coach or your team won’t be available to help with practice. Maybe it’s a holiday season and there is no team training available? Maybe you can’t practice for some reason and want to get in shape? Perhaps you just want to improve your catching through some softball catching drills? Or maybe the weather conditions such as a thunderstorm or even winter is stopping your usual practice? Or you are bored alone at home and have nothing to do.
Anyway, whatever the reason is, there is no shame in striving to improve yourself and be better, it’s even commendable. However, lacking somebody to guide you like a coach, or proper teammates to practice is a big minus. Don’t worry though, we got you covered.
Importance of practicing catching by yourself
To be successful in anything, not just softball, you must practice, practice and then practice some more. Many young players fail to grasp the importance of practice time, not just with the team but by themselves also.
Sometimes, instead of relying on coaches to give you a proper training plan, you as a player should create your practice habit to coincide with games and team workouts. Activities may be just as simple as repetitively throwing that ball at the wall.
Here are some softball drills for catching you can do while you are alone:
Softball catching drills you can do it by yourself
- Grab a tape
- Find a suitable brick wall
- Mark a wall with a tape
- Throw the ball at the wall and catch it with your softball glove
It’s one of the easiest softball catching drills around. You don’t need anyone for it and it will improve your catching quite a bit. Just toss gently the ball to the large wall and use the opportunity to practice your fielding when it bounces back to you.
You can throw directly at the wall to practice ground balls, throw it to the ground so the ball can deflect up, hit the wall and bounces up so you could practice fielding pop flies.
The tape is there for you to practice accuracy. If you want different angles of rebound then ignore it and throw the ball so it can bounce that way. You can even try to hit it so it would travel far so you could practice feet movement and speed.
Potential training locations: Anywhere, even your home. Just make sure there are no fragile objects in your training area.
Pop-ups using a tennis racket
- For this, you will need a tennis racket(check out a cheap but good racket if you can’t borrow one), a tennis ball(s), a softball faceguard and one softball glove
- Put on your softball faceguard
- Take the tennis racket and hit the ball vertically up the air with your softball glove on
- Let go of the racket on soft ground, natural or man-made, immediately
- As the ball falls, try to catch it with your glove hand
- Repeat the drill
Even though it sounds silly, this softball drill will do wonders for catching pop-ups. Just use a tennis racket, hit the ball up in the air and catch it. This is a great way of consistently hitting pop-ups and the ball in the air will be influenced by the wind so it will make a good challenge to catch it.
Potential training locations: Anywhere that has a high ceiling or open area.
Hand-eye coordination drills
- This drill only requires you, softball and a small baton
- Toss a softball from one hand to the other
- Moving on to the next level, find a small baton and try to flip it one-handed, catching it clean each time.
- Toss the ball short distance in the air and catch it
- All 3 drills to be practiced at least one hundred repetitions a day
- Repeat drill
- One round of this drill should only take about 15 mins
Softball relies on flawless execution, especially when playing defense. Catching a ball with your softball glove, then transfer it to your throwing hand, then completing the throw, requires big hand-eye coordination skill.
But don’t worry, you can even practice it at home using this very simple softball drill. Just take a softball and toss it back and forth from one hand to the other. Or just throw it in the air and catch it. Or find a small baton or a stick, try flipping it and catch it cleanly. All will do great for your hand-eye coordination.
Long and short throwing
- Set up a small target, around 1-2 feet wide
- Put lots of softball balls in the bucket
- Stand 25 feet away from the target and throw balls at it
- After 10-15 throws, move another 25 feet and start throwing again
Maybe you can’t play catch alone as you can do it in softball practice with your team, but you sure can work on your throwing motion and accuracy. This is also a pretty simple drill, you just need to set up a target and have lots of softball ball that you can throw to it.
25 feet mark is for short throwing, every time you move away you will need to throw longer and longer which will improve your long throwing skills. This is one of the softball throwing drills that will help you maintain accuracy while developing muscle memory for all ranges you need to throw that ball.
Agility footwork drill
- Draw a straight line to work for
- Wear a full youth softball catcher gear sets but without a catcher’s mask
- Cross your legs alternating one leg in front of other
- Similar to a skier, your two feet should be side to side
- Two feet go from front to back
- Hop with both of them over the straight line you draw
- Do 3 sets, 20 repetitions a piece
There is nothing better than agility drills to help you build strength and agility. Back press drill and weight shift drill are one of them. Catchers need to be able to shift positions from a squat quickly when a runner tries to steal a base. Faster reflexes would help you to do that.
Catcher position throwing
- Wear a catchers mitt
- Squat in a position
- Throw a tennis ball at the wall so it bounces on the ground on the way back
- Try to catch it
- Repeat drill
This is a variation of wall bounce drill we mentioned before. Over time, you can throw a tennis ball harder at the wall so it would bounce back faster. This drill is graduate one so in time it will become easier for you to field balls which would take difficult bounces.
This drill can also be practiced before the game to improve reflexes. It will also improve your hand-eye coordination and make it easier for you to field ground balls.
Sign-giving stance. Be relaxed and rest on your toes, with knees tight and close together because widening the knees can give away the signs given to the pitcher.
Primary stance. Spread your legs wider than the shoulders with your softball glove at the knee level. You will use this stance at the beginning of each inning when there are no runners on base.
Secondary stance. Squat deeper and protect your throwing arm by holding it behind your back. This you will use when there are runners to the base. Your chest should be angled to the base for blocking balls pitched in the dirt and when throwing to bases when a runner tries to steal or advance.
These are three basic stances which you will assume at different times of the game. Most of your drills should be performed in one of these stances. Just remember not to squat on the balls of your feet when you are in one of them.
Right-left then throw
- Take a right-left step
- Tap your softball glove to the ground between your legs
- Keep the other hand over your glove and pretend that you caught the ball off the ground
- Bring the ball into your body, and step through with your right leg moving across your body, followed by your left on a sideway
- As you do right-left stride, bring your arm with the “invisible ball“ in the throwing position
This softball drill is nice for your leg work as a catcher. You are not only practicing fielding the ground ball but also getting into the throwing position immediately after.
Now that you know how to practice catching softball by yourself…
As you could see, practicing catching alone is not that hard. Most of the drills we recommended for you to do are simple to execute, and yet it will benefit you in the long run.
Through practice, no matter how simple they look, it will create you a habit that will reflect when you are in practice with your team or in the softball game itself. Repetition is great and will make you so adept in movements you need that you will be amazed how easy you can perform them when it matters.
If you are really dedicated to improving your catching skills, why wouldn’t you practice if your time allows it? Heck, even if your time doesn’t, softball drills such as “hand-eye coordination“ can be done while you are doing something else like watching TV. Try it, and see the difference when it comes naturally later on.
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