2019

81017631_2939219259431346_7784419789237125120_o.jpg

2019... I’m sad to see you go. You started with the most emotions I’ve ever experienced. Anxiety and nerves of January tryouts to relief and excitement of seeing my name on the 2019 roster.

You allowed me to see my best friend TWICE!

I’ve seen important people say ‘I do’ and ‘Yes!’ I’ve watched my little sass-a-frass grow, dance and even take to pitching.

We saw Macchu Picchu, and Joey turned 40 in style with best friends.

You’ve given me life... I’ve experienced so much in the last 12 months.

Along the way, you’ve taken my heart and mind on a crazy ride. From doubt and frustration of getting back into the groove at age 36, to elation of big strikeouts and wins, you gave me everything I could dream of.

2019, you made me love again... you made me smile... you brought me people who I have fun with. I am excited about what 2020 will bring myself and my family (in all facets), but 2019, you were special, very special!!

#38

A Brief Thank You

abstract bay boats bright

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I know just about everyone is still in holiday mode so I’ll keep this one quick today. I just want to thank everyone who has come out to Life in the Fastpitch Lane to read the posts, as well as those who have shared them and commented on them throughout the year.

Thanks to you, for the first time ever Life in the Fastpitch Lane surpassed 100,000 views in a single year. It also had more than 80,000 visitors, which is tremendous.

When I started this blog back in December of 2006, I was hopeful that a few folks might be interested in giving it a look, and that I might be able to help some players, coaches and parents with their softball journey.

Now here we are, 13 years later, and it’s reaching a very wide audience of fastpitch softball enthusiasts around the world.

None of that happens without all of you. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I look forward to continuing to share more with the softball community in 2020.

In Hitting, the Arms Can Only Do One Thing; Choose Wisely

Kayleigh hitting

As fastpitch softball hitters begin to experience some success with making contact, their next natural evolution is to want to hit the ball harder. Often what that amounts to is trying to swing the bat harder with their arms.

It makes sense in a way. You’re holding the bat in your hands, which are attached to the arms. The faster the bat moves the harder the ball will be hit (theoretically). So…

The natural tendency is to try to make the bat move faster with the arms and shoulders. There’s just one problem: once you try to maximize batspeed with your arms you lose all ability to adjust the bat to the flight of the ball.

That’s because the arms can only do one job. They can either supply power or they can lag a bit behind the body and then deliver the bat accurately and properly in the path of the ball.

So where does the power come from? The strong rotation of the lower half of the body, which most people refer to as driving the hips.

That’s where the biggest muscles of the body are located, so that’s where you can generate the most power. If you’re trying to push a car out of the snow or mud, you either use your legs or it doesn’t go anywhere.

The problem is, if you don’t develop the power from your lower half it has to come from somewhere. So the body will instinctively try to get it out of the part of the body that’s holding the bat.

And now we’re back to the original issue. With no (or little) hip rotation, the bat has to travel a longer distance to get to the contact zone. That means you have to start developing the power and applying it before you really know where the ball will be.

It’s like trying to throw a dart without knowing where the dartboard is until you’re about ready to release it. Sure, you might get lucky and hit the bullseye. But you’re far more likely to wind up on the edge, or miss the target entirely.

Starting with the lower body gives you a little more time (not much, but every hundredth of a second helps) to see the path of the pitch. It also helps carry the bat closer to the contact point before you actually release it into the ball, creating a shorter path to the ball (as in “short to, long through”).

Just as important, though, when it comes time to launch the bat you are able to control it much more effectively so you can take it right to where it needs to go.

The arms (and shoulders) can only do one job – supply the power or guide the bat in a way that’s adjustable. If they try to supply the power, that will override bat control.

Let the power come from the lower body so the arms and shoulders can do their proper job. It’ll make for a much more successful 2020 at the plate.

And speaking of 2020, happy holidays to everyone, no matter which holiday(s) you celebrate, and best wishes for the New Year. I appreciate you reading Life in the Fastpitch Lane and look forward to sharing more about the fastpitch journey next year.

 

New Research Notches Another Strike Against Early Sport Specialization

Play at first

The debate over whether young athletes should play multiple sports or focus on one to develop their skills – often framed around the best way to earn a college scholarship – has been going on for quite a while now.

Up until a few years ago it wasn’t much of a debate. Nearly all kids played multiple sports, and each sport had a season. These days, with nearly all club/travel sports becoming year-round commitments, it gets tougher and tougher to be a multi-sport athlete.

Some new research published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS), a scientific, peer-reviewed publication, weighs in on the topic. Since reading the actual article would require you to purchase it, here’s a press release that provides a pretty good summary.

The article defines early sports specialization (ESS) as “the intensive training or competition in organized sport by prepubescent children (under the age of 12) for more than eight months per year, with a focus on a single sport to the exclusion of other sport and free play.” Does that sound like anyone you know?

The article goes on to point out that the “lack of diversified activity in youth leads to increased risk of injury and burnout.” No surprise there. Young bodies are still developing, and the constant repetition and wear-and-tear in the same ways can certainly take a toll.

As I like to explain, any sort of repetitive motion, done enough, can cause issues. Just look at carpal tunnel syndrome.

Clicking a mouse is hardly intense activity, yet 3-6% of adults in the U.S. acquire it at some point, often leading to surgery that costs thousands of dollars. Now imagine a much more robust series of activities repeated over and over on a body that hasn’t fully developed.

But what about the pursuit of excellence (and more specifically college scholarship opportunities)? The authors of the study state that ESS “may not be necessary for elite athletic achievement, but rather early diversification of sports leads to superior results.” They also say those who diversify show more enjoyment of sports in general, have a lower frequency of dropout, and have “fewer signs of chronic stress, higher levels of motivation and a gradual independence.”

I know I’ve seen the value of diversification in the athletes I’ve worked with over the years. For example, I love working with gymnasts, tumblers and cheerleaders. They have tremendous strength, especially in their core, as well as excellent body awareness that enables them to learn new athletic skills quickly. Skaters also tend to fall into this category.

Basketball, soccer, volleyball and lacrosse players are usually in great shape and very quick. No need to do a lot of conditioning or speed and agility work with them – someone else is already doing that heavy lifting for you. They tend to make excellent middle infielders and pitchers.

Those are just a few examples of how the skills and athleticism gained in other sports translate to fastpitch softball. Feel free to add more in the comments.

Of course, at some point athletes do have to start specializing to some degree if they’re going to pursue higher level play. By the time they reach high school age the time demands for club/travel players make maintaining a competitive level in one sport tough, much less two or three. Although it can still be done if the adults are adults about it and willing to accept that a multi-sport athlete may not make it to every practice and team activity.

By that age, players may also self-select out of multiple sports. They may recognize that they’re better at one than another and decided to focus on it, or may lose interest in some sports they liked in the past. Of course, a few will want to continue playing more than one, at which point they will likely have to choose which to do at a high level and which to do at more of a recreational level.

At the younger ages, however, participating in different sports should not only be allowed but encouraged. Parents and coaches should work together to build a schedule that’s best for the young athlete as well as the team – including total time off from everything now and then so the kid can be a kid.

Coaches can also take heart from the fact that many of the basic skills from other sports will transfer to softball, helping players become better than they would have been otherwise.

Now, if your child isn’t interested in other sports it doesn’t make sense to force him or her into them just for the sake of cross-training. But most kids aren’t that narrowly focused.

As a society we need to dial back our obsession with youth sports (and college scholarships for 10 year olds) and instead focus on helping our kids establish a solid foundation and love for athletics that will carry them through their lives. The evidence increasingly shows it’s best for them in both the short and long terms.

 

5 Things to STOP A Doing in 2020 | Softball Is For Girls

The holidays and New Year are a time for new beginnings. And new seasons. And hey, maybe we can all do a little better in the New year. So today……

Softball is For Girls’ 5 Things to Stop Doing in 2020!

(We promise, these will make your life better!!!!)

GIVE THE GIFT OF SOFTBALL! We have a $50 GiFT CERTIFICATE for just $25 WHILE THEY LAST! Don’t MISS OUT!
  1. Stop analyzing and AGONIZING over every single bad call that comes your way. Stop posting it on social media, days after the game is over, just to see if you can get some proof from someone who wasn’t even there, that YOU were right and the umpire was wrong. Just stop. A call is a call. Umpires are human. They are going to screw up, and it’s not worth your energy, your time, or your frustration to carry on about these things for days on end. Did you lose a game because of a bad call? Maybe so. But move on, and get over it because you aren’t going to change anything and your posts on social media look like a rendition of Abbott & Costella’s Who’s on First?
  2. Quit making excuses for your kid’s performance on the field. So she sucked one day. So her batting average is going down the tubes. So she made a few errors. It is a GAME, and it is what IT IS, and more than likely it is just a phase that she will come out of. But you look a little silly making excuses for her, especially when everyone at the game sees the same thing, and no one but you saw the little rock that caused the bad hop, that made her miss the ball – fall on her face and blow a big play. It’s ok. It really is ok. Look. We have said this once and we will say it again. YOUR DAUGHTER’S PERFORMANCE on the field is not a DIRECT REFLECTION of your or her worth, or your parenting.
  3. STOP TALKING ABOUT COACHES, TEAMMATES, and other PARENTS in front of your kid. Keep your opinions to YOURSELF. Just saying it, changes the way your kid feels about people she otherwise enjoys spending time with.
  4. Speaking of talking – STOP TALKING for your kid. I’ve spent enough time in a dugout to know that what YOU say your child wants, and what SHE says she wants are totally different. She’s begging me to play outfield instead of 3rd, and you’ve got your panty in a wad because your daughter isn’t on 3rd. Your daughter WANTS to sit out, and your stalking me behind the dugout fence asking WHY she is sitting out. Please, EMPOWER your kid to ask for, WORK for, and talk to people about what SHE WANTS. Putting a coach between a player and a parent is a difficult position for them to be in, and most kids LIE to their parents just to appease them.
  5. Please, please, please, quit coaching from the stands. Quit hollering at them while they are playing. I have had more players thrown out because they hear the shrill squeals of parents telling them to RUN, then I have gotten thrown out on my own base coaching skills. STOP coaching them while they are in the batters box. If you must open your mouth, say something positive to the ENTIRE team, and CHEER for the entire team. We promise – your kid will thank you later!

So we want to know! What would you add to the list. What are some things you’d like to see parents stop doing in 2020!

The post 5 Things to STOP A Doing in 2020 | Softball Is For Girls appeared first on Softball is for Girls.

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.

Get GIFT CARDS for your favorite people this Holiday!
Instant Download.
http://www.store.softballisforgirls.com

The post To All the Girls I’ve Coached Before appeared first on Softball is for Girls.

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.

The post ATTENTION PITCHERS! BIG, BIG Changes coming Your Way! appeared first on Softball is for Girls.

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!

The post Girl, TUCK in your Softball Uniform shirt! appeared first on Softball is for Girls.

Plant the Seeds for Softball Success Early

thanksgiving-3780752_1920.png

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