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You Gotta Believe

Written By Aaron Weintraub

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You Gotta Believe

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Great performers trust their skills and believe that things will go well. Muhammad Ali said, “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.” It is a valuable pursuit to figure out how to obtain and maintain a high confidence level before and during a game. Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that a person either has confidence or she does not. In fact, confidence is an attitude and attitudes are controllable. Great athletes imitate the thinking patterns of the other greatest athletes in the world.

Confidence comes from preparation, self-esteem, and one other significant factor. Most people think this other factor is past experiences. Actually, confidence comes from the way people think about the experiences they have had. This distinction is subtle, but huge because the past is not controllable, but the way athletes think about the past is completely controllable. Once it is time to perform, preparation and self-esteem are constants. However, an athlete’s confidence in her ability to execute this next play is very much a variable. Preparation and self-esteem are worthy of discussion elsewhere. This article focuses on how to use self-talk to consciously increase confidence right now.

Many athletes have never thought about this subtle distinction that confidence fluctuates not based on experiences, but on the way they think about these experiences. Therefore, they typically emphasize their most recent experiences. This is a natural pattern of self-talk. When they do this, the belief that confidence comes from experiences becomes true. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that is fine when recent experiences are good, but very damaging when recent experiences are bad.

A leader’s job = Give her team her best effort.

Best effort requires a confident attitude.

Attitudes come from thoughts.


A big part of a leader’s job is to think in patterns that maximize her own confidence.

Did Cat Osterman lose confidence after giving up a hit? Did Jessica Mendoza lose confidence if her first at-bat of a game was a strikeout? Do any of the greatest athletes in the world allow their confidence to suffer because of a single mistake or episode of bad luck? Of course not. They use the experience to learn, and then they flush the past from their minds. Since they were already good and now they learned more, their confidence rises, even after a mistake. If needed, they lean on thoughts about past peak performances to consciously build their confidence. With practice, an athlete can quickly image her P.P.P.P. (Personal Past Peak Performance) to bring that confidence to this moment.

Athletes’ Affirmations:

I am a smart and strong player.

I will give my best effort and accept whatever happens.

I will play the game one pitch at a time.

My best effort is always good enough.

I am confident because I am prepared.

I am talented and excited to play today.

I will trust my teammates and my ability.

I am fast.

I am [insert desired trait].

I have a great screwball.

I have a great [insert skill].

I am in control before each pitch.

I am confident and decisive.

I use enthusiasm to do special things.

I hold myself and others in high regard.

I can handle any adversity that comes my way.

I act based on my plan, not in reaction to things outside of my control.

I always play aggressively and under control.

By my aggressive approach, I create magical moments.

I enjoy training.

I am a lean, mean machine.

I will relentlessly do my job for my team.

I will prepare so that I may move with poise and confidence.

I constantly strive for perfection.

I never expect perfection of myself or others

We will raise the bar and I will hold myself accountable.

Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better.

I love softball and the challenges it provides.

Since confidence is largely the direct result of particular thinking habits, making the commitment to consciously gain confidence by using effective patterns of self-talk is a top priority for leaders. These patterns allow athletes to hang on to and thus benefit from successful experiences and let go of, or de-emphasize, less successful experiences. This unbalanced relationship of emphasizing positives and de-emphasizing negatives is the secret to consciously increasing confidence. Negative thoughts are de-emphasized, or flushed, by focusing on something else, like the next pitch. If they are stuck in the brain because of negative emotions, they will get unstuck with forgiveness. Forgiveness is a critical skill for de-emphasizing thoughts that could seriously damage an athlete’s confidence.

On the positive side, affirmations are simple, positive, self-directed thoughts such as, “I am a smart and strong hitter.” They are a form of mental practice that can be used away from the diamond, in practice, or during games. They are reminders of past successes, personal strengths, or positive expectations that an athlete gives herself to increase her confidence. They are used anytime an athlete says simple positive statements to herself often repetitively.

Affirmations may seem tautological and effusive, but if it improves performance, then it has value. They are like the statements a great coach would make to an athlete at just the time she needs to hear it to maximize her confidence. Since she is the most important coach she will ever have, and the most reliable, she can benefit by systematically using affirmations during her pre-performance routines. This is particularly valuable for the athletic personality which tends to get stuck thinking about negatives. Every athlete/scientist should put affirmations into her experimental design to see if they help.

Work Ethic

Written By Cat Osterman

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Work Ethic


My career far exceeded anything I ever imagined. In fact, I never imagined I would be a softball player for most of my life. I grew up in a basketball family, and played basketball from third grade all the way through high school. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I realized my dreams might not unfold the way I imagined. I won’t complain though. Softball has been very good to me (Hope someone reads that and laughs).

As I look back, if I could instill one element in future athletes, it would be work ethic. Most don’t understand the definition of work ethic. It’s not just working hard sometimes. It’s not just playing hard when college coaches are watching. It’s constantly working hard to be better because you want to be a better athlete every day. Work ethic is about constantly striving for little goals, with an ultimate goal in your view. It’s about finding a way to get even a short workout in when your day is jam packed of things to do. Work ethic is a constant thing, not just a sometimes thing.

My favorite example of this in my pre-college career was my freshman or sophomore year of high school. I had no plans to go to our Homecoming Dance. I wasn’t asked to the dance, and I’m not one who actually liked to get dolled up and go. A friend of mine convinced me on the day of the dance, to just go with her and her friends. When the 2:30 bell rang, I called my dad, said “can you meet me at home soon? I want to pitch before I go to the dance.” My dad worked close enough he got home in time for me to pitch, shower, throw my hair up wet, throw on an old dress, and off I went. I guarantee, if he had not been able to get home in time, I would have blown off the dance for pitching. The moral isn’t to give everything up for practicing. It’s knowing your priorities, and then make time for them.

When you do go out to practice, work ethic is giving 100% of what you got. Some days we have all 100% of our energy. Some days we are tired and worn out, but that is when you have to dig deep and focus more on giving every ounce of you to each throw or swing of the bat.

There were times I would pitch after basketball games, and I would imagine it was my 3rd game of the day and go out there with the idea I have to work hard to get through it.

In college, regardless of the success or failure of the day before, I approached every bullpen or game to get better. I wanted to one up myself in every performance. I couldn’t ever settle. An athlete should never quit working to get better. There should be constant hard work.

Work ethic can get you far. It can make you great, but you have to embrace it every moment, and carry it with you forever.

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Why Do You Want to Coach Rec Ball?

Written By Mitch Alexander

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Why Do You Want To Coach Rec Ball

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As we find ourselves about to start another season of rec ball, I thought it would be appropriate to remind coaches to ask themselves why they coach and what rec ball is all about. All too often, we all hear horror stories about the politics and in-fighting that go on in our local town softball programs. Recreational softball programs have existed for decades. Almost without exception they are managed and coached by parent volunteers . One observation, which is of course open for argument, is that parents sometimes coach baseball to get their sons playing time because they are not the top players , where parents usually coach softball because their daughters are the top players. This situation of coaches having their kids as the top players may not be a good thing in many cases and may set up even the parents with the best intentions to act in ways they could not predict.

Rec programs are often run for honorable reasons. You hear things like, “it’s all about the kids” or “my daughter loves (insert your town’s rec ball program name) so she can have fun playing with her friends .” Rec ball programs when run correctly, should be pure fun for the kids. Often they are not. Oh, it’s not that the program organizers don’t have good intentions, it’s usually that the parents make demands that tarnish the purity of the basic concepts of rec ball – to have fun, to learn how to play, and to get some exercise. Parents demand playoffs , trophies, awards, etc. This sets up a major conflict between the coaches. Most coaches never get involved with travel ball, and don’t understand the differences between travel and rec ball. They are worlds apart.

In the best programs, all teams make the playoffs, if they even have playoffs. This encourages the coaches to let the players have fun and not worry about their win-loss record. Programs that have bracketed or seeded playoffs are really looking for trouble. This helps to motivate coaches to win their games and to put having fun as a secondary goal. Coaches who are often pushed by the players ‘ parents through a type of peer pressure to win, respond to this type of motivation.

Most coaches will try to do the right thing and train their players how to play this wonderful game of fastpitch softball. Things go great in pre-season practice. The girls have fun, they pay attention (mostly) try to please their coach , they get some exercise, and look like they are having the time of their lives. Then the games start and it’s like someone put Dr. Jekyll’s potion in the seeds from the snack stand. The games quickly tum from “being all about the kids,” and suddenly it’s all about the coaches. Coach Bob has never beaten Coach Sue and will stop at nothing to beat her this season . Do you get it? “Beat her. ” It’s not one team of youth athletes of all skill levels having fun playing with and against their friends, it’s all about the coaches. He must beat “her.” Coach Sue may be totally unaware that Coach Bob has a vendetta he plans on executing this season. Coach Bob must win at all costs.

What started out as a fun experience for these female athletes, tums into something it was never supposed to be. “Daddy Ball” comes into play (see my article in issue 6) and the Coach’s daughter may play every inning while other kids sit one, two, or, three innings!

The coach may use tricks such as having the girls that aren’t good hitters, step into the pitch and “take one for the team,” or squat down at the plate so low that their posteriors are a mere few inches over the ground to minimize the strike zone. The coach may encourage his players to make noises while the opposing pitcher (who is probably friends with several girls on his team) is in her windup. Then, when his team is in the field, com plains if even the slightest noise is made when his pitcher is in the circle. He may also instruct his pitcher to hit a good batter. Rules will be broken (that ‘s how we have been playing it for years) , rules will be made up (that’s now considered a dead ball). In the most heinous cases , umpires may be encouraged to give preferential treatment to one team over their opponent.

In many programs, local rules exist to “ensure” that every player has an opportunity to play every position (pitcher and catcher may be the exception, or not) . The Dr. Jekyll coaches (who by the way are often normal, mild mannered, upstanding citizens in the community off of the field) may not rotate their players so everyone gets a chance. Debbie, who always plays short stop (and may be a coach’s daughter), plays every inning there, while the three (or four) outfielders are the ones that get rotated.

Many times, these coaches are the yellers . These coaches may berate their players, and curse from the comfort of their padded bucket in the entrance to the dugout. One little mistake, or bad at bat, and Captain Curser jumps off his bucket and unleashes a tirade of expletives at the poor girl who had the bad misfortune of being drafted by this uncaring coach . They may also use passive aggressive methods to mentally attack the players who don’t perform as desired.

These coaches must win at all costs. They feel it’s their reputation on the line. After all if they were really a good coach , they would have winning seasons every year, right? Think about the coaches in your organization who win year after year and take first place every year. Are they good coaches? They may know how to train their players . They may know all the tricks in the book, too. But look at the players. Are they having fun? Are there any girls crying on that team? Are there girls who always play left field and spend at least a couple of innings on the bench? What about the girls on the other teams when they play First Place Freddy? How do they feel? Now think about if this coach is really a good coach – probably not. At least not for rec ball. This coach may belong in travel ball.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the coach who is all gung ho about running a team but either doesn’t know how to train young female athletes, or doesn’t have the time to hold practices . This Missing Marvin, may only hold warm -ups before games if they even attend the games. The girls don’t receive the training they need and expected. They probably lose close to every game. They feel lousy about themselves- not because they lost their games, but because they don’t know how to play or what to do. They feel ill-equipped to play.

Rec ball is for fun. Travel ball is for competition . I am all in favor of competition – but in the correct venue. Rec ball is not the correct venue. Competition in my opinion is important, necessary and teaches youth athletes required life lessons , but when appropriate. At the end of the day, who cares if your team came in first, second, or last? What is important is if your players had fun, learned how to play, and got some exercise. If your players did – then you are a GREAT coach and you helped to foster their love for the game of fastpitch softball. They will most likely sign up without hesitation to join next season .

If you are coaching rec ball, please honor the game and give everyone a chance.

Sit all players fairly. Rotate players so they can play any position they feel comfortable playing (and can safely handle). A girl who can safely try catching this season , may fall in love with it and request her parents to get her catching lessons in the off-season! Do not show favoritism to your daughter (or her best friends). Hold meaningful, fun practices – regularly, not sporadically. Treat the other team fairly and with respect. The coaches, players, and parents on the other team today, will be the coaches, players, and parents on your team next season . They will remember how they were treated . Treat the umpires with respect – be a role model for your players. If you yell at the umpires or curse them under your breath, you are teaching your players to do the same thing!

Teach your players how to handle conflict and disagreements properly. Remember you are coaching young girls and do not curse, talk about inappropriate topics, or smoke around them. Treat your players with respect. They are in your care and the rec ball organization, the players, and their parents have put their trust in you to do the right thing.

So ask yourself “Why do you want to coach rec ball?” If you are honest with yourself, the answer may shock you. It may not have anything to do with community service, or training young athletes, or even being a nice guy/gal. It may have everything to do with your ego. If it does, re-think your reasons for coaching. If you cannot reconcile them so that your thinking is aligned with the best intentions of rec ball, do something else.

If you are a parent and your daughter ends up on a team with one of the coaches I mentioned in this article, please print this article out and show it to them. Hopefully, it will remind them why they are coaching rec ball and how to treat their players.

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Decisions: Four Important Points

Written By Rob Crews

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Decisions Four Important Points

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So I posed the question to a group of hitters, “When do you decide to swing? Or at what point in the process of the pitcher’s delivery or flight of the pitch do you say yes?”

Of course I got various responses, but as coaches, we know that the ball is on you so quickly -especially at the more competitive levels of play. Therefore, the decision need to be determined pre-pitch. Yes, in order to be on time, we have to say “YES” right after we step in the box. Mainly, because it’s easier to stop your swing, than it is to start it.

The hitters that are consistently late, doubtful, hesitant, etc., are usually not getting it started mentally earlier enough. Hitter’s who fall into the habit of deciding to swing in-flight, will find themselves jumping at pitches or speeding the ball up.

I believe that if we can bring an element of decision-making into the drills we are already using, then we can better help hitters transition from practice to the game. I’m going to share some adjustments I’ve made to my drills in order to incorporate this specific instinct into a hitter’s psyche.

During soft toss, watch your hitters. Are the hitters starting their swings and then the Tosser tossing? Or are the the hitters waiting for the Tosser and timing the first move? This is a great question to ask yourself. I am noticing that most soft toss drills are lead by the hitters movement.

It is almost unconscious. But fundamentally, it is wrong. It doesn’t match the cognitive process of decision making that occurs in the game. In soft toss, I like to give hitters different visual cues in order to test different triggers. An example is to have the tossers, start with their ball high, then drop the hand, then toss. Tossers can vary how big or small the drop is in order to help hitters understand they should be ready to be quicker and anticipate more than they react. We are encouraging anticipation, and not reaction.

During front toss , try bringing the screen closer to the hitter. I like to do this with a wiffle ball or a safer ball due to the greater probability of a screen deflection causing injury. But have your hitters closer to the the screen (7 or 8 feet). They will have no choice but to get the process going sooner. This is how we train the brain to be able to process visual information sooner, earlier, and faster. When I look at how other sports train, I often wonder why we don’t do the same thing in softball training. For example, if we speed up the practice, the game becomes much slower and therefore easier.

So many hitters make outs because they either take too many good pitches or swing at too many bad ones. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate some drills help develop this skill of anticipation and decision making. A good anticipation and decision making drill would be to hold 2 different colored wiffle balls in the same hand (as the Tosser) . Before you toss, tell the hitter which ball you want them to hit and which one they should take. When you toss vary which color ball you release. This increases decision making ability and forces them to learn to take certain pitches. This drill is or to be confused with the drill where the Tosser tosses 2 balls a to a time. That’s a different drill.

I opened this essay with the question of when should hitters decide to swing? But the real question is what are you looking for as a hitter. Hitters should always know these four things before they get in the box on each pitch:

What am I looking for? Curve, Rise, Screw, Drop, Change.
Where am I looking for it to be ? In, Out, Up, or Down.
What shall I do with it if I get it? Middle, Oppo, or Pull.
What shall I do if I don’t get it? Take it or what?
And of course this scenario is only when your hitters have less than 2 strikes on them. I am finding that most hitters don’t know they need a game plan and don’t know how to establish one to begin with. It’s never too early to teach hitters to begin to anticipate where a pitch might be going?

In fact, another good exercise to utilize in front toss or live pitching. Coach can call out either “In” or “Out” and mix up the location of the tosses or pitches. Hitters have to take the pitch if it’s not what the coach called. This is a great way to instill discipline in your young hitters. They should understand that it is easier to hit when you make your strike zone smaller. So many hitters are expanding the strike zone and trying to cover too much area, especially when ahead in the count. That can make hitting more difficult as the competition gets better. I will leave you with these 2 premises: the less talented a hitter is, the smarter they have to be. The more talented hitters have to be smart as well -especially against great pitching. This is why good pitching usually stops good hitting. Because good hitting isn’t always smart.

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Fastpitch Softball Magazine Issue 47

FPTV Fastpitch Softball Magazine Issue 47

Issue 47 of The Fastpitch Magazine Published By Gary Leland

This month’s featured video is from my series with one incredible legend of the game, Dr. Dot Richardson. This has been a multipart series focused on the History Of Softball. This video is recorded with the famous Michele Smith. I have also included one of my great softball drills, another featured chapter from The Fastpitch Book, and all your helpful articles from our amazing writers.

Welcome to the July 2016 Issue of the Fastpitch Magazine. The Fastpitch magazine has been bringing you more fastpitch softball articles and videos than anyone on the planet for over two full years.

Mitch Alexander writes in the Softball Academy, “DIY Home Backyard Batting Cage”.

Keri Casas is writing in, To Coach or Not to Coach, her article “Unselfishness”.

Aaron Weintraub’s column, Bridging The Gap, has his article “Routines”.

Michelle Diltz is bringing focus in her section, School of Strength, with her article “Back to the Basics of Training″.

Shannon McDougall is back with an article on Planning For Success, entitled “Season End”.

Abby Hanrahan is back with The Pitching Link, in her article “Deconstructing Pitching Lessons”.

Dr. Sherry Werner joins us again with and article on Windmill Wisdom, “Breaking Down The Windmill Pitch: Timing”.

Featuring a Drill of the Month, this one comes from my book on Hitting Drills “The Ten Strike Game – Pitching Drill”.

Special Article featured from The Fastpitch Book, Written by Lisa Iancin “The Moment”.

Guest writer this month is by Bill Boles with an article on “Tryouts”.

I also feature my interview of the month with Olympian Dionna Harris.

All this and more in this months issue.

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A Battery Has Two Ends!

Written By Bryan Ingalls

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A Battery Has Two Ends


It is no secret that whether its baseball or softball, that if you do not have the pitching then your team will probably not be very successful. More so in the case of softball, you can get away with having just one ace carry you to many of your team goals. One ace can without a doubt mask some of the deficiencies that your team may have; lack of defense, offense, base running, or even coaching (yes I am a coach and am saying that).

There is something about throwing a no hitter or a perfect game that is just so very impressive, and you see it much more frequently in fast pitch softball as opposed to baseball. Why is that? Well I have stated before in my blogs that hitting a softball is so very much harder than hitting a baseball. With that being said I think about 99% of the coaches in this country would start a team with a stud pitcher. I probably would too, but I have always thought outside the box on many things whether it being in coaching, playing, business, and life, so why stop with this.

The position of catcher has been so overlooked and so undervalued, that the lack of catching can and will hinder the success of a great pitcher and a great team.

You can have the best pitcher on the planet, who has an untouchable riser, a change up that may seem like it stops in mid air, a curveball that cuts sharper than a Mariano Rivera cutter, a drop ball that drops off the table or a fastball that simply jumps off a radar gun. But remember that someone has to be there catching the pitch.

A pitcher is only good as their catcher. The catcher can greatly enhance a pitchers greatness and can also hinder them as well.

It does not matter how good your pitcher may be, if your catcher cannot handle them , there is no point is having them , you might as well have someone on the mound who pitches to contact and play good defense. Between coaching, watching and playing fastpitch there have been many instances where I have seen a dropped third strike and a passed ball, passed ball, passed ball score a run.

What makes a pitcher even better is having the confidence that she/he can let one rip and snap one off and no matter where is goes the catcher will be there to have their back. If there is any question in the back of the pitchers mind that she/he can’t stick that drop ball or cant snap up and get that rise ball, or block that nasty change up in the dirt then the effectiveness of the pitcher and confidence to make that pitch will go down.

The importance of developing a catcher at the youth levels has drastically gone down which is why finding great catchers coming out of high school are few and far between and we are seeing more and more athletes being converted to this position when they are already in college. The position of catcher is merely overlooked when the importance of developing pitchers and hitters are certainly on the rise.

You should not try and simply develop a pitcher, it is a must to develop a catcher and nurture the very important Pitcher/Catcher relationship!

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