Respect The Game

Written By Bryan Ingalls

Fastpitch Chat Show App Featuring Softball Tips & How-To's

Respect The Game

Video On Demand

Usually you see me writing about the Pitcher and Catcher relationship or something along the lines of a catching aspect in here, but this article is something that I believe every athlete should read let alone softball player. It has to do with something that I believe can be lost very easily in this day and age with Athletics, not just by the players, but by coaches, parents, administration, and fans. It is Respect, Respect for the Game, and Respect for Your Game.

I used to be big on rules, I thought that the more rules you incorporated the easier it would be to keep the athletes out of trouble and the easier it would be to enforce them. Still being young yet experienced in the game and the coaching world I have come to the realization that you really only need one rule and that can cover just about everything involved with your sport and enforcement. Its called Respect. Not just Respect your coach, or respect your family, or school, or teammates. Respect the Game.

If you truly Respect the Game and get an understanding of the history and all the hard work people before you put in to get it to where its at you will truly grow to love your sport. When that happens you will do whatever it takes to get the most out of your potential and truly appreciate the opportunity you get to be a participant everyday. Respecting the game has so many meaning while it may be such a simple phrase.

When I think of Respecting the game, I think of a 39 year old Derek Jeter who has nothing to prove to anybody yet going 100% up the line until that ball is caught and called out on a routine ground ball. I think of Coaches like Coach K and Jim Boeheim of Duke And Syracuse who have been involved in their sports and at the top of the history books in wins yet are still putting in the hours to get even better well into their 60's. I think of Peyton Manning who spends countless hours in the film room dissecting his opponent for the next week so he is fully prepared.

But it is not only professionals. They have a God given gift but they work so hard to maintain that gift and sustain it for a long prosperous career. But I also think of the 12 year old kid who just had a 2 hour practice and wants to go hit later at the batting cage, and the 100 degree days where a girl is in the heat shooting a basketball instead of in the house with the AC on blast staying cool. That is all Respect for the Game.

I feel that there is way too much entitlement in this day in age not only in professional sports but college as well. Being content and settling on the level you are at or resting and taking a play off because the game is in hand, or simply losing that fire because you may have won the title the year before. That is not Respecting the Game. True character comes out when nobody is watching. When the stands are empty and nobody sees you what are you doing to better your game.

Respecting the Game is not about just better your own physical and mental game, it is helping your teammates. Every person on a team plays a role and without that role the team cannot reach its potential. Every rep you take off is disrespecting your time, your teammates time and your coaches time. Everything that you do says something so be prepared to make a statement with every action.

Coaches, do not rest on the knowledge that you have right now, the game is ever changing and you can learn things from not only coaches at a higher level or coaches with more experience but you can learn from lower level coaches and beginners. Everyone has a different outlook and everyone sees the game a little bit differently so never be too big to take a second to learn, or take that extra minute to have a conversation. That is Respecting the Game.

Players, never take it for granted, every rep is important and will affect the outcome of your performance. You have to put in the energy so you might as well make the most out of it. Complete every rep in your workouts and then do one more. Play for yourself and the alumni that paved the way and the players 50 years ago who without them maybe this sport would not be around.

Fans, Parents, Administration, the game is about the people that are playing, it is not about you or what is best for you. You are all there to support the athletes and support the Whatever the sport is you are involved in, Respect it. Respect the process. Respect the players. Respect the Coaches. And most importantly Respect yourself. If you just think to yourself is this Respecting the game or did I respect the game today, than the rest will take care of itself and your goals and aspirations will be taken care of from there on out.

Programs, do that, and do that positively. The parents have raised the athletes and the Administration has hired the coaches. Let the people that were put in place do the job they were intended on doing. The games are exciting, so much work is put in, Respect the Game by supporting, and supporting is so much more than merely being in attendance at an event.

Strike Zone Mat hitting and pitching training aid

Separate Your Game

Written By Bryan Ingalls

CatcherStore.com for all your catcher gear needs!

Separating Your Game in Catching

CatchersZone.com Softball & Baseball Catchers Gear!

Catching in Softball is a game of failure so more often than not. That's exactly what will happen especially on the offensive side of the game. The game is built off of many individual battles within the team concept so concentrating on your task at hand is vital to whatever success you may have, especially at the Catcher position.

As we have discussed before the Catcher is the general and the boss on the field so it is very important that other factors throughout the game are not affecting your catching duties in a negative way, more so your offensive game. Many coaches consider anything contributed offensively from their catcher is a bonus as long as they are calling a great game and receiving stealing strikes.

Catching Requires Complete Focus

The worst thing that a Catcher can do is bring their at bats behind the plate because catching requires the up most focus and you owe it to your pitcher and the rest of your team for the 100% focus every pitch. Every competitor wants to succeed at every aspect in their game. It is only natural and it is perfectly fine getting upset if you have a bad at bat or are having a bad game offensively. Take your time after your at bat to do what you have to do to clear your head and focus for when you have to go and do your job behind the plate.

The simple act of putting on your catcher's gear can act as that fresh slate that you can use to zone in on your job and put that last at bat behind you. There are eight other people in the lineup that have the same job as you hitting but there is nobody there to back you up while you are catching so that needs to be your focus.

The thing that you have to remember being a Catcher is that you have so many responsibilities and so much is asked from you mentally and physically. It is extremely hard to be on point offensively every game when the mental and physical exhaustion kicks in, but a mistake behind the plate is much more costly that a mistake at the plate.

Separate Your Game From The Rest

There are certain things that you can do to help yourself offensively in practice knowing the workload that you put in as a Catcher. Try and take your offensive reps before you do your Catching reps. When you do that you are fresh. Sometimes when you are tired, your fundamentals at the plate lack due to exhaustion. That may create bad muscle memory that you will need in the game.

Do a lot of leg work strength wise and stretching wise. Mental exhaustion kicks in when the body becomes physically tired so if you train your body the right way physically, you can stay even more mentally strong longer throughout the game, weekend, and season.

Throughout the game talk to your pitcher about the game plan. We have talked about this before as a necessity for making adjustments and staying true to your plan, but by doing this you stay focused on what you have to do when you go back out there. If your focus is on your last at bat, be it positive or negative, it may affect a pitch the next inning in the field. So talk to your pitcher, talk to your teammates, try not to sulk or even boast about an at bat because it takes away from your job.

The Success And Failures In Softball Catching

The great thing about this game is that it is so mental and every person and player are different so not the same things work for everyone. Find what works for you to have a clear and focused head by the time you go back out onto the field. Like I said earlier, it is natural to be upset if your at bat was not what you planned or be excited if it was successful. Take your time in being upset. Take your thirty seconds or a minute to get it out. Do not let it build up. If its positive, be excited but when it is time to put that equipment back on its to “ear up” literally and figuratively.

Find your routine but just like everything else what you do before the games to prepare can help or haunt you in the tasks that you have in your game and individual battles throughout. Separate your game, focus on those individual battles and leave the past or future ones out of your task at hand. You are the Catcher, you are the Boss, you are the last line of defense, be that Leader that your Pitcher, Teammates and Coaches want and need you to be.

Fastpitch Softball Player Search for Teams & Players!

Making Sight Adjustments Mid-Game

Written By Bryan Ingalls

Fastpitch Softball Books

Making Sight Adjustments Mid-Game

 

The game of softball is always a cat and mouse game full of making adjustments. The best players are the ones that can make the minor tweaks throughout a game when something may be a tick off. Players and coaches prepare for hours upon end for competition but even when you are fully prepared some days it just doesn’t click and that is completely normal. Location for a pitcher is extremely important and if the location is off even a little bit, it can mean the difference between an out and a hit. But just because you may be off a bit, adjustments do not have to be so difficult because the mechanics may not always be the issue.

While talking with a golf pro he once said that when normal people drive they just try and look at the middle of the fairway and aim for that. The average golfer is happy just to land the ball safely somewhere close to the fairway. He says he picks out a blade of grass in the middle of the fairway so if he misses, the miss is minuscule. That to me says so much when it comes to hand eye coordination and self adjusting. His motto is aim small, miss small. That may not work for everyone but it goes along with what I will talk about on how to make sight adjustments when dealing with the pitch location.

Some days a pitcher is stronger, some days they are weaker so the pitches just are not breaking enough, or breaking too much and the location can be just off. Throwing a certain pitch is a combination of strength, release point and mechanics, but if on a certain day a pitcher is a little stronger or weaker it may throw the release point off just a touch. This does not necessarily mean that there is a mechanical flaw, it just means your body is reacting a bit different on that given day. This is where communication verbally and nonverbally between the catcher and the pitcher come in, and even sometimes the catcher just tricking the pitcher into making an adjustment.

For instance if a pitcher is consistently missing in a certain spot, as a catcher you can move your target to trick the pitcher into hitting the location that you truly desire. So if the pitcher is missing down, you may want to move your target up just a bit so that if they still miss down its closer to where you actually want the pitch to be thrown. Same thing can be done in any direction.

Another thing that is very easy for a pitcher to do is change what they are looking at. Some pitchers may look right at the glove, some may choose a spot on the catcher’s body, Pitcher’s have their own system of what they like and are comfortable with. Let’s say the pitcher is consistently missing high with the rise ball, the catcher should talk with them ask them what they are focused on and what they are looking at. If the pitcher is looking at the shoulder on the catcher then they may want to pick a spot a little lower on the body and see if that works. If they are still high than keep moving down the latter.

The reason why I am a firm believer in sight adjustments is because as I have said in previous articles, this game can be very complicated and the best way to succeed is to try and simplify it as much as possible and if you try and correct something mechanically to compensate for missed locations during a game it can ultimately create a bad habit down the road. Why make something more complicated when it does not have to be.

When making these adjustments it is vital for the catcher and the pitcher to be communicating so that they are on the same page. The pitcher has the best feel for their own body and the catcher has the best view of the pitch, the spin of the ball and the plane at which it enters the zone. Honesty is a must between the Pitcher and Catcher when making adjustments like this because if anything is held back is can affect the execution in a negative fashion.

Hand eye coordination is something that we used almost constantly in life and sometimes in sports it just is not clicking the way that you want. Sometimes you just have to trick your body into doing something else. Again, this game is a game full of minor adjustments and minor tweaks and the ones that do that the best are the ones that will end up on top.

EyeBlack Stickers Eye black stickers online store

EyeBlackStickers.com Online Store dedicated to eye black products.

Win The Mental Game Vs. The Hitter

Written By Bryan Ingalls

Win the Mental Game vs. the Hitter

SoftballStuff-online-fastpitch-softball-superstore

Sponsored By SoftballStuff.com


THE PITCHER/CATCHER RELATIONSHIP (PART 3)

Some coaches prefer to call a game for the Catcher and some Coaches let their Catcher call the game. There is no right or wrong way, it all depends on personnel, intelligence and talent levels. As a Coach to the game, I have always believed that the Catcher has the best view to call it. My approach and goal has always been to educate the Pitcher and the Catcher enough so that they have the ability to think in a way to confuse, find a hole, and beat the hitter. There are many unwritten rules and old school ways and patterns that have been passed down over the years. The thought process is very important but the simplicity of this aspect of the game has been overlooked.

Reading a hitter, I believe is the upmost important skill that should be learned in the sport of Softball and Baseball! Why you ask? If you can read a hitters swing you can learn how to pitch to them, get a read on where they might hit, what they need to work on , what their strengths are. Reading a swing will help your plan of attack in the circle, it will help your ability to improve as a hitter and it will help your ability to properly position yourself in the field. This topic can be spread out over a course of about 100 articles. A book can be written about different things to watch for, to listen to, and how to use these things to your benefit in every aspect of the game. But as I have always done is try to use the complicated thought process from the catching and coaching perspective and simplify it so that over thinking does not affect you in a negative manner.

Rule #1 that I always go by: Always trust your gut! Do not over think, hesitation is a speed bump in the communication process with the pitcher and also gives a little confidence booster to the hitter. There is never one perfect pitch for a certain situation. It is much better to throw the wrong pitch with 100% conviction than the right pitch while second guessing or with hesitation. It is the Catcher's and ultimately the Pitcher's job to make sure that happens.

Be observant! Pay attention to the players practice swings. Every hitter has a hole in their swing. And by hole I do not mean a swing and miss, but I mean there are always certain pitches and locations that a hitter struggles with, just some are better than the other. But physical ability is not even half the battle when trying to get a hitter out. It's a mental battle first and foremost. Whatever state of mind the batter is in mentally will directly affect what they do physically, so when I say be observant, take everything in. Look at their eyes, their breathing, their hands, how hard they are gripping the bat, where their feet are in the box, and what their swing looks like if they take a practice swing. Any tell or tip you can gain is information you can use in either this at bat or the next one. But also you do have to take into consideration what situation the game is in and whether there are runners on base. Depending on that situation your fielders will be positioned for that. Getting a batter out does not mean striking them out necessarily.

Do not create pitch patterns. Have the ability to throw all of your pitches in any count! Some hitters just see and react and others think and guess what pitch is coming. When a hitter can narrow it down to what you may call or what you may pitch it makes it easier for them to succeed. If a hitter has to be prepared for everything that you have the more they are thinking about which ultimately gives you the edge of the mental battle. Do your best to not turn a Pitcher vs. Hitter battle into strictly a Physical battle. There is nothing wrong with throwing balls, they can be very strategic. There is also nothing wrong with throwing a ball very short or very high to the screen. From a hitter's perspective if a pitcher is constantly around the strike zone and in a groove hitting al the spots the batter has a sense of comfort in the box knowing that A they will not get hit and B. you are going to be around the plate. That sense of controlled wildness goes a long way in winning the mental battle with the hitter. That strategy is great for a control pitcher or for when you are in a groove and spotting the ball wherever you want to. It is also a great idea to have a shake off sign. As I said before, many hitters try and guess what pitch will be thrown and generally those assumptions come based on the pitch count and situation so a shake off by a pitcher will make the hitter second guess the pitch. Never let the hitter feel comfortable. That is all a mental game.

Remember to be smart but most importantly keep it simple as well. You do not necessarily have to “waste” a pitch if you are way ahead in the count, or “groove” a pitch if you are behind. Every pitch has a purpose and there is information to be gathered with every action a hitter makes. If the hitter is successful that at bat, use that information for the next one because remember this game is a war and each pitch is an individual battle, it must be thought of like that! 100% focus for 100% of the game and success will come your way when you are battling the hitter as a battery.

Fastpitch Radio Network Fastpitch Softball Website

A Battery Has Two Ends!

Written By Bryan Ingalls

EyeBlack Stickers Eye black stickers online store

EyeBlackStickers.com Online Store dedicated to eye black products.

A Battery Has Two Ends

SportsDecorating_post-footer


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!

Fastpitch Softball Magazine App for iOS and Android!” width=