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5 Crucial Decisions For Softball Success

5 Crucial Decisions For Softball Success

“5 Crucial Decisions For Softball Success” Written By John Michael Kelly

As the spring softball season approaches, whether high school, travel or recreational I’d like you to pause for a moment and consider all the decisions your athlete has to make during the course of a game, and how little time she really has to make those decisions and react to ball, pitch or play. A typical batter has less than 1/2 second to determine pitch velocity, movement of the ball and ultimate spot to place the barrel of the bat each swing. No small feat! The same crazy quick time pressured decisions are true for fielding and base running.

Ultimately your athlete’s or team’s level of on the field success is dictated by the decisions she/they make. And these decisions are a product of many factors, most all of which are found within her head.

Behind every action is an emotion; behind every emotion is a thought. So how can you insure that your athlete or team thinks and feels optimally so that she/they make good decisions on the field?

1. Decide to play in the MOMENT. – Dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about future ones makes focusing on the task at hand impossible. “Be Here Now,” and watch decision making improve immediately.

2. Decide to NOT make any one mistake/at bat or play more important than it needs to be. – The athlete decides in her head how much power she gives any one “event” on the field. The more power she gives it the bigger it gets in her head; the less power she gives it the sooner the mistake fades away.

3. Decide to always practice with a clearly defined PURPOSE in mind. – Building confidence and making good decisions is the result of proper preparation, for competence breeds confidence.

4. Decide to focus on the PROCESS of getting better instead of your batting average, ERA, fielding % or wins and losses. – Learning to focus on EFFORT and refraining from self-judgment is always the best recipe for a quick bounce back after a mistake on the field.

5. Decide to take RESPONSIBILITY for your thinking and emotional state on the field. – Success happens by design, not by accident so come into a game with a plan, ready to face those adversity demons head on!

In truth so many poor decisions on the field are due to doubt and hesitation, a fear of making a mistake. If your athlete or team can implement these five decisions and you as parent or coach support them you will soon see infinitely better game decision making, better performance levels and a greater joy for playing the game!

Thanks for reading!

Softball Facemasks

Kelly Inouye-Perez Interviewed By Gary Leland

Kelly Inouye-Perez Interviewed

UCLA Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez Interview Produced By Gary Leland

Gary Leland: Kelly, thank you for taking the time out to talk with us. Now, first of all, before we do anything, I want to say congratulations on your year this year. I think in that final series, I saw the best softball game I’ve ever seen in my life.

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Oh. It was a magical moment but I think ultimately, my team was in a great place. We had prepared to be able to get to that moment. We were facing a great opponent and the energy, the excitement, the atmosphere, everything made for a wonderful finish. I’m very proud of our girls, very, very proud.

Gary Leland: Now, let me ask you a question about your team in general. Is there anything you did specifically that you can say that helped you get to that moment?

Kelly Inouye-Perez: You know, I really got to the point where I just trusted the players. I trusted my coaches and I trusted my players. That our culture was strong ultimately that every person in this program mattered in the Bruin family. We’re also really focused on being able to compete. Our competitive excellence was a little bit of John Wooden. There were some things that happened during that tournament. He went in the hospital and he was with us. There was a little Bruin magic on that day but our culture was strong. We competed and ultimately with that focus, we were able to get out there and just played great softball. I had a really good time doing it.

Gary Leland: You’re the third Head Coach of the Bruins I’ve interviewed and I can say one thing about you Bruins, you stick together. You are a family. It’s not just you guys play some ball. You guys work as a family. Is there anything special that started that or keeps it going or is it just part of the deal?

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Well, we have couple of things. Our Philosophy is Bruin family first. Family comes first, then school, and then softball. It’s a lifestyle that we practice. Every coach in the Bruin history has played in the uniform, has won a championship and has graduated from the university.

So for us, the history and tradition we take a great deal of pride because we helped create it and be on that like I said, the most important thing is it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a job for us so we love each other beyond just our wins and losses. It helps create a very strong culture within our program.

Gary Leland: A lot of our viewers are players or parents of players that want to go to school. They want to play ball and let’s say they want to play for you. What’s the best way for them to be seen by you? What would you say, “This is probably your best opportunity of me seeing you.”

Kelly Inouye-Perez: I think there’s a lot of opportunity. I travel all over the world. I think every university likes to keep a lot of their local talent home but for us, we’ve recruited players from different countries from Canada to Australia and from coast to coast. So we get out there and we recruit.

For the players, they’ve got to get to some of those showcases to be able to have an opportunity but I think the best opportunity for them to be seen is to create a video tape and then send it across, put their best clips together of what makes them special and send it to the top 20 schools in the country that they are interested in. They can directly get the information to the school and then hopefully get feedback on where they stand in the recruiting process.

Gary Leland: Okay, talking about these tapes since you brought it up and you’ve seen a lot of my bet.

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Yeah.

Gary Leland: I’ve bet you’ve seen as many as anybody. Is there something you see in a tape that you’d say, “I wish they put this in there, that all tapes should have.”

Kelly Inouye-Perez: I think it’s their opportunity to show what makes them great so there are personal information for us. First thing I look at is their GPA so for them to be able to get accepted in the UCLA is the number one thing. So for us, GPA, that’s should be the first thing. What year they graduate, their GPA, some of the accolades that they’ve accomplished but then the rest of it, the softball part is their opportunity to go out and show off what they do best. So show him your great hitting, show him your fielding, show him your throwing, show him your versatility. It have to be shorter.

We don’t want to see a 15-20 minute tape on an individual so anything within that 5-8 minute range showing their best qualities, I think it’s a great opportunity to get exposed because we don’t have control over. I can honestly say, I can’t be in every tournament across the country from year round. It’s not just going to happen. That’s part of recruiting. It’s a little bit of timing, a little bit of luck. Create your own luck.

Gary Leland: So you get a tape, you see it and this kid lives in South Dakota. I’m just using a state and this kid can’t come see you. So is there anything that works? Do you have a chance to see the kid?

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Absolutely! Like I was saying, I travel from coast to coast. So there are tournaments in Florida. There are tournaments in New Jersey. There are tournaments up in the northwest and there are also tournaments right there in Southern California. We go to Oklahoma. I mean yes, we travel all over.

Gary Leland: So the main thing is get in front of you is what you are saying.

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Well, the showcases, the tournaments and the tournaments that are bigger when there’s a lot more opportunity for us to be able to pick a tournament when there’s a lot more and that’s part of recruiting. You want to get on a team that can get to the point where they can get to the end of a tournament that just allows you to get more exposure, more games and ultimately to get to the bigger tournaments and those are identified from coast to coast.

There are tournaments every weekend they can play. A big part of that is you can get on the websites and find out what colleges are attending or you can pick up the phone or email the coaches to find out where they are going to be but ultimately, get out there. I think that’s a travel ball is about. There’s a great opportunity for you to get exposure year round.

Gary Leland: Let’s get to your team now. When you have the team every year, you get new players in, you develop them and make them fit into your system, get them in there. Is there anything that on a normal basis that you found something that players need more work on coming into college? You go, “Yeah, we keep running into this over and over.” Is there anything like that?

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Well, I think colleges is the opportunity to really take every part of their game to the next level but the biggest part of college is being able to manage your time, being able to figure out how to work out, do school, socially have fun, all of these things combined. It’s time management to be able to be graded everything and the big part of that is being able to keep their priority straight.

For us, we help define it for them in our Philosophy. Our family, how we support each other is the most important and then school is the next. That’s the next most important thing and them some falls the fun part. So I strongly suggest that time management, keeping your priority straight and then ultimately that’s what college is about. You’re going to continue to learn more, get better, stronger and then ultimately, the goals that you set and what you actually accomplished is going to determine on your ability to continue to learn and your work ethic, all those things combined add for success both on and off the field.

Gary Leland: During your team practices, is there anything that’s a specific drill or something just like your favorite thing to have those players do? “This is what we like to do and we do it.”

Kelly Inouye-Perez: I just love the sport. I think the basic fundamentals of the sport being able to execute the basic fundamentals of fielding, the basic fundamentals of throwing and the basic fundamentals of hitting, those aren’t fun but it’s the basic fundamentals that allow you to be successful on the big stage.
So ultimately for me, it’s really being able to pay attention to the little details of the game and then when the stage gets bigger then you just play it. So there’s a lot of things and that my job is to make creative and try to figure out new things. There’s all types of things but it’s really getting back to the basic fundamentals of the game so then it becomes really fun later.

Gary Leland:. What do you think of NFCA?

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Oh, we’re fortunate. I think it’s run by people that are invested in looking out for what’s best for the sport. We’re fortunate that we have a forum to be able to express what we believe can help the sport and things that we believe may be hurting the sport and be able to come together as an association throughout all the visions of the sport with one thing in mind – how can we continue to make this better for the future. So I think it’s a wonderful thing.

I’ve been a member for over 20 years and very proud of it, very proud to be a part. I love that there’s a voice in the forum but ultimately, it’s a great opportunity for all of us to get together away from the competitive field and kind of share thoughts and get refreshed and ultimately like I said it’s a lifestyle to be able to coach.

I joined when I started coaching. I started coaching over 22 years ago. So we’ve been able to attend and just be a part and ultimately hope that we can have a voice to be able to make sure that this sport continues to head in the right direction.

Gary Leland: And I ask one last question, How are we going to do this year?

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Well, the one thing that we learned is the most important part of success is being able to focus on today. Coach Wooden told me, the key to success is yesterday is as old as dirt and we have no control over tomorrow so we’ve got to focus on creating a masterpiece today so ultimately, right now my team is in a great place.

Gary Leland: That is some good advice there.

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Absolutely.

Gary Leland: As far as I know the best advice I’ve gotten in all of the interviews I have done. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Kelly Inouye-Perez: Thank you.

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Going Viral

Fastpitch softball viral

Going Viral Written By Mike Adams

How many of us have spent hours watching highlight clips on youTube (Not on business time, of course) It is a fun way to watch incredible catches and close call plays. What needs to be kept in mind is that great flying horizontal catch has more of a chance of failing than it does succeeding. I know players in this social sharing age, would love to see their catch go viral. What needs to be addressed is why that extreme maneuver needed to take place.

As usual, I shift this from softball to hockey. I watched an interview a few years ago with a NHL goalie. The interviewer was commenting on an incredible save the game the night before where the goalie almost did complete splits to save a shot. The goalie commented something like “Yeah Man, I am sorry about that”, to which the interviewer replied “Sorry? That was incredible!”. The goalie got a grim look on his face and pointed out that if he was really paying attention, he wouldn’t have had to stretch to make the save. That pretty much ended the interview, but it sank in deeply with me. He was dead on; a great player makes things look easy, not flamboyant. A great player reads the play well enough to be where they need to be.

Ask any coach, in a clutch play, would they rather see their player make a high jump snag, or a text book easy 2 handed catch that drops right into their glove. Some of the coaches may answer “I don’t care as long as they catch it”. Well, we all know they are fooling themselves. They do care. A lot. Coaches spend hours on batting line ups going through probabilities. Putting that into perspective, the probability of a nice knee-sliding catch is far less than an easy drop into the glove. When a pop-up is headed right for a fielder, the coaches breathe. When they hit towards a hole, they hold their breath. That is why we see these plays as special because the chances dictate a failure to the defense and no one wants to remember those.

I saw this take place at a tourney I was at last weekend. When the ball was hit to the outfield where you saw fielders running back, you heard gasps from the defensive team spectators, and hoots of joy from the offensive team spectators. When the ball was hit in front of the outfielders, you heard the opposite. There was one Center fielder, however, who seem to always have the ball directly in front of her. Was the batter sending the ball right to her? No, careful watching showed she moved a little left, a little right, front and back according to the hitter. The moment the ball was hit, she moved. And moved fast. She would try to position herself right to where the ball was going. Made for some real boring looking catches, but she made them. On the same team, there was another player who was constantly diving, missing most of the balls.

This is where it gets tricky as a player or a coach. Reality says you really can’t be in all places at once. Reality says as a 2nd baseman you really can’t move to be in front of a line drive unless it is almost in front of you to begin with. There are times where a dive is important and because of that, it needs to be practiced. Knowing how to jump up for a ball, to snag it before it goes over the fence is a learned skill. Knowing how to reach across either side of you to field a ball does come into play in a real game. Most important is knowing when to use it. A good player has a big box of skills in which they choose from. A great player knows when each of those tools should be used. An easy grounder to the player should always be centered on the body. It should never be planned on having to reach to the left or right. You learn how to catch when it is on your side in case it takes a bad bounce once centered. If you plan on the ball going to the left so you reach that way and it bounces even further, then the ball is gone. Probability says centering the ball is your best chance. Pulling a knee slide to catch a ball that could have been caught normally with just a little more drive is asking for it to go bouncing past. Yes, you may end up catching it. But, probability says you will miss that catch more often than if you set yourself to make an easy catch.

I know it doesn’t sound exciting, I know it won’t make ESPN’s play of the week, but plays that look simple, are more than simple. Executed simply and correctly gives the team an out. The team that plays for the simple out will end up with more wins.

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Win A 2016 Miken Freak Black Fastpitch Bat

This month on The Win Some Softball Stuff Show you can win a 2016 Miken Freak Black Fastpitch Softball Bat. Produced By Gary Leland

This month you have the opportunity to win a 2016 Miken Freak Black Fastpitch Bat. Watch the video to find out how to enter.

Make sure and watch on the 25th of every month for our newest contest.

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OU Winningest Team Since 2012


“OU Winningest Team Since 2012″ Written By Bill Plummer

NORMAN, OKLA — Even wonder what women’s college softball team has had the highest winning percentage since 2012? Alabama and Florida, recent winners of the Women’s College World Series, must be considered, but they rank third and fourth behind runner-up Louisiana-Lafayette. Heading the list is the University of Oklahoma.

Since 2012, the Sooners have won 162 games and lost 27 for a winning percentage of .857. Louisiana-Lafayette is at .826 with Florida while Alabama played softball at a winning percentage of .814. Five OU seniors (Lauren Chamberlain, Shelby Pendley, Callie Parsons, Georgia Casey and Jessica Vest) have contributed to the outstanding record since 2012 and they hope to conclude their final year with perhaps another national title. The Sooners have two so far, 2000 and 2013, and would like nothing better than to win a third in 2015. But defending champion Florida returns with a veteran team and has a chance at becoming the first team since Arizona 2006-2007 in repeating as national champions.

OU coach Patty Gasso has done an outstanding job during her time at OU and enters the 2015 season only 21 wins short of 1,000.(979-296-2, .767 winning percentage). Overall, Gasso has a 24-year record of 1,140 wins, 355 losses and two ties and a winning percentage of .762. And she is optimistic about the 2015 season, which opened Thursday in Hawaii.

“This team is really, really good. I’m really excited,” Gasso said. “There are no holes here. It’s a good mixture of all classes working together well. They’re all back, they’re all healthy and they’re all hungry because they didn’t finish the way they wanted to last season.” Gasso is referring to the 4-2 loss OU experienced in the 2014 WCWS to top-seeded Oregon (56-8-1). OU fell behind 3-0, but their rally fell short and finished the season 51-13 in their fourth consecutive appearance in the WCWS. OU is seeking its fifth consecutive trip to the WCWS. Last team to make five or more trips to the WCWS was Arizona, 2005-2010.