The Important Softball Parenting Lesson I Learned

By Stacie Mahoe

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Softball Parenting Lessons I Learned

I grew up playing, and loving, Fastpitch softball. So naturally, I’d make my daughters play. Yes, I said “make.” Why? Because my dad made me play. You see, I loved basketball, but he signed me up for softball. Seeing as how I’m only 5’2″, that was probably a great decision on his part, but still, I was not a happy camper. I mean, “soft” ball doesn’t even sound sporty or tough. It sounds wimpy which was not cool with me.

Then I started playing, and fell completely in love with it. As a parent I decided my daughters didn’t have a choice. Whether wanted to or not, they were going to try fastpitch, at least once. Just like me. After that, the choice was theirs, but every one of them would give fastpitch softball at least one good try. Thankfully, my oldest daughter loves it!

My second daughter, on the other hand, just didn’t dig it as much. She did keep playing but mostly because she really enjoyed the social aspect of it. She never showed the same enthusiasm for the game itself as her older sister.

This frustrated me.

Not because her participation wasn’t good enough. Not because I wanted her to play that badly. Not just because I wanted her to love the game like I did. Mostly because she had better size and was much more naturally skilled at it than her sister, but possessed nowhere near the drive and determination to be really awesome at it!

We often told her that she could be even better than her sister if only she tried as hard. Other instructors and clinicians told her the same thing, but nothing ever changed. Not even the thought of being the best in the family made her want it more.

As parents, my husband and I really didn’t know what to do. Her attitude toward fastpitch was just so foreign to us. Was our daughter really going to waste all her natural talent and athletic ability? Would she end up like so many gifted athletes who never reach their full potential simply because they’re lazy?

We tried everything we could think of to motivate her. We tried different approaches to bring out the drive in her we hoped was just hiding somewhere inside her. But no matter what we did, it never showed up.

It’s not that she didn’t care. It’s not that she didn’t want to do well. She cared about how she did and didn’t like when she didn’t perform well. She just never seemed interested in going the extra mile to make the most of her talents.

What were we doing wrong? Nothing seemed to work. We felt so out of touch with how to parent her as an athlete.

My husband and I both grew up in competitive athletics. We both had drive and determination the sports we played. Our oldest daughter had it too. How did we end up with a child that didn’t seem to have any of it despite her obvious physical ability?

It was frustrating for us. It was frustrating for her too.

After a few years, my husband and I began thinking our daughter really was one of those talented, but lazy athletes. It was not a nice thought, but what else could it be? We continued trying to figure her out. How could we get her to “get it?” There had to be a way.

Then something really, really strange happened.

My husband and I realized we were dead wrong about her. Our seemingly unmotivated daughter wasn’t completely lazy after all. In fact, she really did have all the determination, drive, competitiveness, and aggressiveness we’d been looking for. We were just looking in the wrong place.

We assumed she’d have it on the diamond because I had it on the diamond, her sister had it on the diamond, and she had the talent for it, but we were wrong. What she lacks in effort and determination and drive on the diamond, she has in the boxing ring and in crossfit training. The difference was like night and day.

At first we wondered if it was just the excitement of something new. However, after months of training, we realized it wasn’t just a phase. Every day, she wanted to train. Every day, she pushed herself. Every day, she listened to her coaches and learned as much as she could. She gladly took advantage of extra opportunities to train and improve her skills. She looked forward to both training and competition with excitement. She steadily got better and better as she trained with a focus and intensity we never saw on the diamond.

What an amazingly eye-opening experience for me as a sports parent. Our daughter wasn’t lazy or unmotivated after all. We just had her focused on the “wrong” thing. Once we found the “right” thing for her, everything became easier for everyone. I almost cried with both relief and joy for her when I realized she finally found her love. As her mom, I was so happy she finally found something she could call her own; something she loved, something she enjoyed, and something she excelled in.

No more nagging about effort. No more dragging her to practice. No more “pushing” her during training until we all get frustrated. Now she reminds us about practice and training sessions. Now she pushes herself harder and farther than we ever would. When she does get off track here and there, it’s easy to nudge her back on because it’s what SHE wants to do. Now our job is simply cheering her on, encouraging her, and recognizing and celebrating her progress and accomplishments with her. It’s so much fun!

As a sports parent, your ultimate challenge is helping your child find THEIR thing, the thing they love and were meant to do. It might be a sport. It might not be. Help them find that thing they can pour their heart and soul into because they want to. The rewards for you both will be so amazingly fulfilling.

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Stacie MahoeStacie started playing fastpitch softball at the age of 9 and Founded All About Fastpitch in 2004. Stacie also served as the Chief Marketing Officer at Softball Performance. She currently blogs about Fastpitch softball at StacieMahoe.com. Her perspectives on the game as a former player, current coach, and current softball parent provide unique insights on various softball issues. Visit her website at StacieMahoe.com

Softball & Baseball Single Ball Display Case

Great for Team Balls and Game Balls!

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Single Ball Display Case

$6.95$9.95

Perfect for autographed baseballs and softballs!

Display your first home run game ball.

*Plastic display case ONLY, does not include ball.

Ships from my Arlington, TX Warehouse

Clear
SKU: ballcase FPTV

Additional Information

Weight .5 lbs
Dimensions 1 x 1 x 1 in
Size

Baseball, Softball


The Softball & Baseball Display Case Review

The feeling of your first home run is one you will unlikely forget. The way the ball felt coming off the bat, the fence it went over, the pitcher you hit it off of, or maybe even the pitch you hit will all be very prevalent in your mind for as long as you have the ability to remember. As a pitcher, the game you threw your first no-hitter, your very first game that you pitched, or even your last game pitched, these memories will always be near to you. The best memories of your softball career need to be cherished in a way that you could remember and see forever. That’s why this softball display case would be a perfect gift or pick-up for your memorable game ball.

Softball & Baseball Single Ball Display Case

*Does not include Baseball or Softball.

This display case can hold up to a 12 inch softball. It is clear on all four sides and up on one of the sides for a softball to be able to fit inside. The clear plastic sides make the softball visible from every angle and is great to see signatures from your friends, or even someone famous! This display case can be used for more than just game balls.

Each player comes across that moment that they would want to remember forever. Whether it be your first home run, no hitter, or the last game of your career, what better way to display your memorable softball moment than with one of these clear softball display cases? This case will hold and show off one of your most valued memories, and give you an everyday reminder of your accomplishments on the field. Each day that goes by you can remember that special day in your career.

We Can Stop Our Muscle Fibers From Contracting

By Aaron Weintraub

We Can Stop Our Muscle Fibers From Contracting

Tension is literally the contraction of muscle fibers. Relaxation is the absence of tension. Awareness is necessary for adjustments to happen. Therefore, if an athlete doesn’t realize she’s too tight, she won’t fix the problem. Learning to relax is a three step process (like learning anything, really): know where you want to be, know where you are, and figure out how to get from here to there.

How do we know where we want to be? We need clear goals. “Clear” means we need to know what we have to do that is totally within our control to achieve the goal. Pay attention when you’re doing well so you can repeat. Pay attention when others are doing well so you can imitate. Ask the right questions constantly. Paying this much attention to life, including muscle tension, is too much for a majority of people, but it is normal stuff for champions like you!

How do we know where we are? Check. Right now, check the tension in the back of your neck. You probably are carrying more than you need simply to keep your head from falling forward, but without checking, you didn’t realize this. Does this mean we should check for tension before stepping into the batter’s box, engaging the pitcher’s rubber? It depends… if tension has a history of keeping you from giving your best effort, then yes. Is this making your preparations to perform too difficult and complex? No. Isn’t a goal to keep it simple? Yes, during the performance — not before it. You can add this check for tension into your pre-performance routine and practice it over and over again, making it routine, or no big deal.

How do we figure out how to get from here to there (tight to relaxed, in this case)? Experiment. Make your best guess, try it a few times, and then decide if it seems to help or hurt. Here are some ideas to experiment with:

Take a deep breath (down in your belly) and just let the tension go during the exhalation.

The breathing exercise below.

Contrast strategy: tighten the muscle group as tight as possible, then breathe in and release it on exhalation.

Massage.

Shake it out.

Positive self-talk to take the pressure off and increase confidence

(all mental skills training is designed to help with this issue, so keep practicing your mental skills)

a. “I’ve done this many times before.”

b. Imagery practice of your P.P.P.P. (Personal Past Peak Performance).

c. “My best effort is always good enough.”

d. “Just do my job, not more or less. It’ll work out.”

e. “They’re in trouble.”

f. “Do what I do.”

Use your routine to promote full preparedness and comfort, and to help you get lost in the process of what you’re doing.

Yoga.

Pay attention to your body during stretching.

Progressive Relaxation.

EXERCISE:

Dialing your hype number down.

Breathe deeply, getting the air down towards your belly. Breathe smooth and steady, trying to connect the
breaths (smooth out the transitions).

Inhale confidence Inhale relaxation Inhale enjoyment
Exhale negativity Exhale stress Exhale worries
(Inhale confidence)

Long Version (before competition):

Do each pair 5 times (5 breaths)
Then do each pair 3 times
Then do each pair once
Finish by inhaling confidence one more time

Short version (during competition):

Do one breath for each.
Practice the long version to increase the effect of the short version.

Use your mental skills to find the words and images that best bring in and get out the ideas listed. For example, don’t just say “confidence” while inhaling. Rather, picture your P.P.P.P or remind yourself that you’ve executed this skill many times before. Enjoyment reflects not only having fun, but also being fully present in the moment. Exhaling worries is releasing both worries about the future and regrets about the past. You might prefer separating these two with an extra breath.

aaron Weintraub Aaron Weintraub holds a B.A. from Emory University (1993) and a M.Ed. from the University of Virginia (2000). He served as an assistant baseball coach for 13 years before starting www.CoachTraub.com, a consulting business whose mission is to over-deliver value on goods and services designed to help you win the mental side of the game. He works with teams and individuals, adding clarity to help them get what they want for their sport. CoachTraub.com also runs camps and clinics and has an online store.Weintraub is the author of Coaches Guide to Winning the Mental Game (Coaches Choice, 2009) and An Elite Athlete’s Manual for Training Mental Skills (self-published, 2011). He lives in The Colony, TX with his wife, Nicole, and their four children.

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Announcing The Fastpitch TV Private Club

Special Founding Member Price Of Only $14.95

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I am happy to announce the Fastpitch.TV Private Club!

This club is just beginning, and will be growing over time. Soon we will add access to private training videos just for club members.

The future price will increase, but as a founding member of the club you will never have to pay again.

 WHAT NEW MEMBERS RECEIVE:

  • Player Search: Access to our Facebook Player Search Network means being able to find a player or find a team. Our player search network is a great way to find excellent softball players near you. http://Fastpitch.directory
  • Series of Their Own: This paperback book is a great read for anyone who plays, played, or is planning to play softball. It is a history of the Women’s College World Series, and helps everyone understand how the event started. www.SeriesOfTheirOwn.com a $24.95 retail value.
  • Fastpitch Book: This is a paperback book that is compiled of 20 of the best articles written by 20 great fastpitch softball coaches. It includes tips, tools, and useful information to improve your fastpitch game. www.FastpitchBook.com a $19.95 retail value.
  • Bat Discount Code: With this code, you can take $30 off any regular priced bat! This includes all the newest makes and models. We stock all the newest bats and have a great inventory selection. (Closeout bats not included) www.SoftballJunk.com.
  • Faceguards Discount code: This is a code for 10% off any faceguard on faceguards.com. That means every faceguard including Schutt, Combat, Rip-It and more! We carry a large selection of custom and designer faceguards. www.Faceguards.com.
  • Special discounts: These special discounts will be on select softball items as they arrive in store. So you will be the first ones to know about all the new stock!
  • Private Newsletter: Our newsletter is an exclusive to members only. In it we could have a special training video, blog post, or even another discount code. The options are endless for what our newsletter could contain.

The price for the Fastpitch TV Private Club Membership is $14.95.
That is it, just a one time charge of only $14.95!

"A Series Of Their Own"

“The History Of The Women’s College World Series,
– Paperback Book”

"20 Great Coaches Give You 20 Great Tools To Improve Your Game"

“20 Great Coaches Give You 20 Great Tools To Improve Your Game – Paperback Book”

The books you receive retail for $44.90, plus the discount codes, the Player Search Group, and the private newsletter with monthly specials make this an amazing offer!


The founding member price of $14.95 is only guaranteed for the first 100 members, so lock down your membership now before the price increases.

Use the following form to make your $14.95 payment:


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Fly Like A G6

By Charity Butler

Fastpitch Softball TV Store

Fly Like A G6

Why do so few Fastpitch hitters feel “fly” in the box? Define fly? Very good, excellent, cool and awesome are several options listed in the Slang Dictionary. Most hitters are tense, nervous and over-anxious in game situations, but to maximize power and consistency, hitters must remain both relaxed and intense.

The gentlemen from the music group Far East Movement came out with a popular song that is helping us with our Fastpitch hitting skills this week. Although Kev Nish, Prohgress, J-splif, and DJ Virman may have other interpretations for their lyrics, watch us apply it to successful hitting.

As hitters, maintaining flexible strength in our hands and upper bodies is essential for maximizing power and consistency. The 2010 Far East Movement song, G6, refers to the Gulfstream 650, the fastest and longest range business jet available. Like this massive machine, hitters work to develop the fastest hands to produce the longest-range line drives possible. Of course we desire to achieve these exhilarating results!

Therefore, I suggest hitters actually fly like a G6. During the swing, our hands should literally move like an airplane in flight. Think this sounds crazy?! Let’s break it down. Use your imagination and picture yourself on a ball field. Then, picture yourself stepping into the hitter’s box. Now, see a line from the back of home plate extending all the way through center field. Take three seconds to close your eyes and visualize the field and, of course, the line.

This imaginary line is called the Power Line. In simplest terms, hitters who maximize their power and consistency keep their power and energy on the Power Line throughout the swing. In order to stay on the line, our hands should move like a plane coming in for a landing, touching down on the runway and taking back off.

Take another three seconds and picture a plane coming in for a landing, touching down on the runway and taking off. Now picture yourself swinging. The angle you see is from a vantage point directly across home plate from you, the hitter. From this angle, the hitter’s hands should move like the plane.

All of our activity in the box should encourage movement that is parallel to the Power Line. After loading, we want to simply throw our hands forward. Throwing our hands on our Power Line, not just to contact but through contact, creates a short, quick stroke to the ball, like a G6! I like using the chalk line of the hitter’s box as a visual. This initial forward movement corresponds to the plane’s approach and landing. When approaching contact, come in smooth and find the level of the ball, just as the plane must smoothly finds the ground.

Then, like the plane rolling down the runway in a straight line and at the same level, we want the bat to “touch down on the runway” for as long as possible. This phase is commonly called extension. We want to find the level of the ball and keep the bat on that same level while moving down the Power Line toward center field.

After contact, we should point down our Power Line with arms fully extended. Finally, we want to take off again. This is the follow through and finish of the swing. To maximize our extension, we must finish high.

Have you seen Fastpitch softball players who hit their backs, creating a loud thud on the follow through? If their bats were planes, they would crash every time! Hitting the back of the front shoulder does not maxi mize a player’s power or consistency. Although the thud may sound tough, this habit causes girls to cut their swings short and decrease the fast hands and long-range line drives they desire.

To maximize our effectiveness as hitters, we want to stay through the ball as long as possible. This increases our likelihood of connecting with the ball (increasing batting averages). It also increases our power and pop because all of our energy is focused in the direction we want the ball to go. Swinging hard does not guarantee maximum results, but swinging like a G6, like a plane in flight, can help hitters maximize potential.

Think about it this way. Flex your bicep. Yes, right now. Flex it!

Did you pull your arm in close to your body, or extend it out away from your body? Of course, you brought your arm in close, right? When we cut our swing short, we do not ever reach full extension. Full extension means both arms are completely straight and pointing down the Power Line. When we cut our swings short, we keep our arms in close to our body, and we are flexing our muscles. When we flex, our muscles are tight. Tight muscles are slow muscles.

Ever been popped with a towel? A towel snaps (and hurts!) because it is loose and flexible. The same result cannot be achieved with a piece of cardboard. I may be able to whack someone with cardboard, but I will not be able to pop them, like snapping a towel. Cardboard is too rigid.

When we keep our arms in close and never reach full extension, we do expend more energy. However, this makes us slow and rigid which decreases our chances of driving the ball consistently.

Find your rhythm. Feeling like a G6 is about feeling fly, feeling cool and awesome. Be yourself in the box, relaxed and confident. In practice this week, think about swinging like an airplane: come in for a landing, touch down on the runway for as long as possible and then take back off. In order to achieve this exceptional kind of extension, you must trust yourself. You must trust your hands. You must be willing to let them fly!

Charity ButlerCharity Butler is respected nationally & internationally as a pro athlete, writer, speaker, collegiate coach, hitting instructor and Certified Intrinsic Life Coach®.Currently, as a Pro Speaker for Sports World, Inc, Charity travels the country speaking to more than 40,000 people annually. As a recognized expert in confidence training, she also presents at various conferences, colleges & universities.Charity is the founder of Exceed Sports, LLC, and of the I Heart Fastpitch Campaign Join Charity On: Twitter, and on Instagram

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Back To The Base

By Dalton Ruer

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Whether you are diving back to a base or going into a base she’s sure to be there. You know who I’m talking about. That big, mean, ugly girl with the bad attitude. Not sure who she is … she’s the one with the ball. She’ll try to block you. She’ll try to smack you with her glove and the ball. She might pull your hair and steal your Gatorade. Ok hopefully she’s not that mean, but she is going to try anything she needs to do in order to get you out. Because that’s her job and she is good at it.

The diving itself should be easy for you by now if you’ve been working hard but there is one part of it that might still be giving you fits. The stopping exactly at the base with your arms fully stretched out. If you go too early you probably come up a few inches or a foot short. If you wait to long you might end up with your face or chest on top of the base.

The great news is that this month I will be helping you solve both of those problems at one time. The solution is actually simple if think about. Don’t dive back to the base. Dive back to the invisible base instead. Seriously!

All you have to do is have a pinky finger touching the base in order to be safe and you can do that from any number of angles. You don’t have to go straight back into it. So are you ready to figure out where that invisible base is? Go grab two pillows because this month we are going to practice by using two pillows in the comfort of your home.

I want you to lay the first pillow down and pretend it is first base. Hold the other pillow in your left hand. Now lay down on your belly and stretch your arms both forward imagining that you are diving back to the base. Oh yeah, we don’t want to do that. So scoot yourself as far to your left as you can and still reach the far edge of the pillow with the fingers of your right hand.

Now scoot yourself forward so that instead of barely touching that corner of the pillow your eyes are even with the other edge of the pillow and your arm is stretched as far as it can go so your fingers are barely touching the middle of the edge of the pillow.

Now it’s time for the other pillow to become that “invisible” base that I mentioned. Scoot forward some more so that the fingers of your right hand can barely touch the top corner of the pillow and hold out the other pillow with your left hand.

Now stand up. Walk backwards a few steps and imagine that you have taken a lead and you are going to need to dive back. But not to the real base (that first pillow) you need to pretend you are going to dive back to that invisible base (the second pillow). If you are going to dive back to that invisible base, you are going to need to run back to that invisible base instead as well. Here is the real beauty of doing this. If you dive back a little bit early you will be in the first position where the fingers of your right hand can barely touch the front edge of the base. If you go about right your arm will be about sideways barely touching the middle of the base. If you went too far you would barely be touching the back corner of the base and your left hand would barely be touching that invisible base. Regardless of your timing you are safe and safely out of reach from that big, mean, ugly girl with the bad attitude and the ball.

Feel free to take that second pillow to the field for your invisible base when you practice this for real, or something that momma won’t yell at you for getting dirty. You need to practice taking your leads and coming back to it, and practice rounding and coming back to it. The key is to have something there so you can actually visualize as a target.

The more you practice diving back the more you should realize that the faster you are going the easier it actually is. The faster you are going the more you glide across the ground and the less friction that holds onto you. That works out really well for us as we progress because where I live we don’t score runs by diving back to first base. We have to take the next bases one at a time all the way home or they won’t give us a run. They are just kind of picky like that. While you may be afraid the good news is that you can start going forward into a base the same way you practiced diving back. Start out on your hands and knees if you need to and keep going through the progressions until you are running full speed diving into second base. Practice, practice and practice.

The bad news is that although you now know it’s just as easy to dive into a base as it is to dive back to a base it is still hard to time it perfectly and there is another big, mean, ugly girl with a bad attitude that will be trying to block that base and get you out there as well. Don’t cry just yet because invisible bases are cheap and they are at second base, third base and at home plate.

If you are stealing then more than likely you will dive to the invisible base on the outfield side of second base and touch the real second base with your left hand. Start your practices just like you did at the beginning of the article. Just lay down on your belly so that you can barely touch the outfield side of second base with your left hand. Then move forward, until you are past the base reaching back to touch it. Then start trying it with some speed until you are running full speed and diving to that invisible base.

But what if you’ve hit a double then the odds are good that the fielder will be blocking that invisible base waiting for the throw from the outfielder. Rats! Now what you are going to do? Hehe the good news for you is that there is another invisible base on the infield side of second base that you can dive into just like you were diving back to first with your right arm. Again they are invisible so they are cheap. Your practice for that is exactly the same as you did at first base. The best news is that there are also two invisible bases at third base, and two at home as well. You want to practice diving to both sides of third base and home plate so you can avoid that big, mean, ugly girl with the bad attitude who has the ball regardless where she happens to be. One last thing … GET DIRTY!!!

Dalton Ruer

Dalton Ruer

Dalton Ruer: Coach Ruer has been using softball to encourage and motivate athletes for 15 years. Throughout the year he is a private softball instructor to many college bound athletes in Georgia. He facilitates team based clinics and instructs at many elite and college recruiting softball camps. His specialties are helping players verbalize their dreams and establish a plan to achieve them and helping players overcome the fears that are holding them back from being exceptional athletes. He has produced 6 instructional DVD’s covering all aspects of how to win the short game and how to dive for the ball. Keep up with Coach Dalton by visiting his blog and resource site at CrossTrainingSoftball.com. Join Dalton On: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube