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.

Softball Junk

Sponsored by SoftballJunk.com

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.

Player Search

OU Winningest Team Since 2012

OU-Softball-Thumbnail

“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.

The Toughest Pitch To Hit???

The Toughest Pitch To Hit???

The Toughest Pitch To Hit??? Written By Troy Olson

As I sit here in my house with the temperature hovering around -5 degrees, it is very obvious that softball season is a long way off. The funny thing is I have already heard people talking about the upcoming season, granted here in Wisconsin there isn’t much else to do other than ice fish and catch a basketball game or two. Well during one of these conversations I heard an interesting statement being made, someone said the hardest pitch to hit is a riseball that’s why my kid is learning to throw it. This got me to thinking, was the riseball the ultimate pitch in the game of Fastpitch Softball?

So I started with some of my own research, I surveyed a variety of people with an age of 20-71 years old. I talked with men and women, college players, local league guys, players who had won state tittles, players who are on Team USA, International players and retired old duffers from many years ago. I had preconceived ideas about what would come from this question, but the results and answers from these survey subjects were amazing.

The test was of many different kinds of players 55% of them had pitching experience, in our sport very few people only pitch unlike baseball. 25% of the subjects had some catching experience and 20% are utility players/out fielders. I wanted to get the biggest range of players possible, its tough with everybody jumping around from pitching or playing middle infield to catching in this sport we just have athletes that are able to play a lot of different positions on defense.

Well in my test I found that 5% of the people responded with curveball, this was a huge surprise to me as a curveball typically stays on the same plane but does move in or out. The average age of these people were 39 years old, and they caught and played infield.

The next pitch was the dropball with 19% of the vote, once again I didn’t expect this pitch to be even mentioned before I started this research. The interesting thing here was that the pitcher with the most International experience chose this pitch, he may also be the best hitter in the group as well. So I had to contact him ask why, his reason for this answer was that at his level of play this pitch is the hardest to hit out of the park. If I miss with the dropball it goes in the dirt, if I miss with a riseball and leave it thigh high its hit over the fence. I had often felt like this myself and had this discussion with some of my buddies, but it was an interesting take from someone at the highest level of our sport. Average age of the subjects for the dropball was 34 years of age.

The runner up pitch was the riseball with 33% of the vote, and an average age of 30 years old. I found this young age to be a very surprisingly low number. So this got me to thinking even more, were these younger guys that everyone knew had played baseball and they fed them a steady diet of riseballs? Or has our sport became madly in love with rise? It seems like every highschool girl claims to throw a riseball, which I think is the toughest pitch to master. Has our sport got to the point where we only throw hard pitches, have we fallen into a trap of watching Adam Folkakrd on youtube throwing 80+ MPH riseballs and we are all trying to duplicate this??? It just raises many questions to me…

Well first place goes to the changeup with 43% of the vote. Here the average age was 45 years old, and this group of players had the most experience of all the other groups. When I talked with these players it was stated that its easier to hit a pitch on location that is relatively the same speed, than it is to get your hands out front and be off balance. These players were not afraid of pitch location as much as they were scared of pitch speed. I find this to be true in my batting as well, once I get fooled with a good change up, I really feel out of sync in the box. Don’t get me wrong you have to have a good changeup or great hitters will see it coming, all great hitters are always trying to see what you are throwing.

So as you can see from this data if you want to pitch and be successful you better be able to switch speeds. I think a lot of times we spend too much time focusing on top speed of pitchers and not enough time coaching or teaching how to pitch. There is a huge difference between throwing and pitching, but we will leave that for another article……

Sooners To Have 14 Games Televised In 2015

OU-Thumbnail

“Sooners To Have 14 Softball Games Televised In 2015″ Written By Bill Plummer

How times have changed and especially the televising of college softball games. Years ago, college softball was lucky to get television time. Even then it was usually tape-delay of the Women’s College World Series. That all changed, however, in 2001 when ESPN did all of the 11 games in the WCWS. Since then, ESPN has continued to televise all of the games in the WCWS live.

Regular season television coverage was rare, however. Not anymore. Teams, such as fourth-ranked and third-ranked Oklahoma, will have its share of television time. The Sooners will have 14 of their games televised during the 2015 season. Their first televised game will be March 14th when it hosts Wichita State on Sooner Sports TV in a 5:30 p.m. start.

The first time a nation-wide audience will be able to see the Sooners comes Friday, March 20, when OU takes on No. 19/18 LSU in Baton Rouge. That game will take place at 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

The Big 12 home opener against Iowa State on April 3 at 6:30 p.m. will be shown on Sooner Sports TV, as will the April 8 matchup against Arkansas at 5 p.m.

All three of Oklahoma’s games during the April 10-12 series at Texas will be shown on the Longhorn Network. Friday’s contest starts at 6 p.m. CT, while Saturday is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. CT start. Sunday’s finale will see a first pitch at 1:30 p.m. CT.

Fans won’t have to wait long to see the Sooners again as the very next series against No. 10/11 Baylor will have all three of its games televised.

It starts on Thursday, April 16, when OU hosts Baylor at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. Friday’s matchup will be shown by Sooner Sports TV at 6:30 p.m., while the series’ Saturday finale against the Bears will be shown on Fox Sports Regional Networks beginning at 12 p.m. CT.

Both games against Utah Valley, May 2-3, will be picked up by Sooner Sports TV. Those contests start at 6:30 and 2 p.m., respectively.

The final regular season national telecast features a Bedlam matchup in OU’s home finale. Oklahoma hosts Oklahoma State on May 9 in a 2 p.m. game that will air on ESPN2.

Specific networks for Sooner Sports TV games will be announced at a later date, as will ESPN3’s NCAA Division I softball schedule. Other Oklahoma home games not currently scheduled to be televised may be streamed online at SoonerSports.TV, but dates have yet to be determined.