Success Is In The Little Things

Written By Stacie Mahoe

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Success Is In The Little Things

Excellence, success, we're all after it. However, you won't achieve it if you can't do the little things right. Bruce Barton said, “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things.”

The funny thing about “little things” is they often become BIG things. So if you want to do big things right, like win games, or even championships, make sure you take care of the little things!

3 Reasons Why Little Things Matter

As mentioned before, little things often turn into big things, so never let them slide! Little things added up over time create BIG results, good or bad, depending on whether or not you take care of them, so make it a point to do them well.

You must walk before you can run. In other words, you can't expect the big things to go well for you when you don't start with the little things first. Do the little things right day in and day out and eventually you will find yourself doing the big things right too. However, it doesn't happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. Start small, keep taking those baby steps, and eventually the big things will come.

Little things, that happen daily, give you the opportunity to make excellence a habit. Big things usually happen less frequently. So if you want to create the good habits necessary for success, the way to do that is through the little things that happen often. Success comes through a series of baby steps taken over a long period of time, not by doing one or two big things every once in a while. Stop focusing so much on making big things happen. Be diligent about doing small things well over and over and over again.

Think about it. How are you doing on the little things? Do you make it a point to do them right? Or are you overlooking them in favor of “more important” things?

Fastpitch softball is simple… hit, run, score. Throw the ball. Catch the ball. But simple and easy are not the same thing! With so much to cover over the course of a season, with so much to teach, it's very easy to let the little things slide. I challenge you, however, not to.

Here are 7 “little things” teams let slide far too often. I know they may not seem that important, but remember, little things become big things. Do them right!

DUGOUT CLEANLINESS

Is your dugout neat and orderly? Or are bags and pieces of equipment thrown about leaving the dugout looking more like an obstacle course than a well kept space? There are several reasons a neat and orderly dugout is important. ..

–It makes it easy for your team to get in and out quick during innings –It's just plain safer (you don't need someone getting hurt because they tweaked their ankle on a ball or other pieces of wayward equipment laying on the ground)

–It means you're taking good care of your equipment which means you'll get to use it longer

–It shows you care about what you do and have pride in and respect for the game

HUSTLE

If you see players walking on the field, ever, this is an area that can improve. You should see hustle in and out of the dugout. You should see hustle between practice stations. You should see hustle in and out of water breaks.

Hustle also means running through the bag, not to it. Finish with the best you have. Never stop short. Never let up. Never give up. Finish strong. This mindset is not only important for running, but in how you play the game.

Hustle keeps you in the game from beginning to end. Hustle shows you care about what you do and how much you WANT to be there. Hustle shows you're willing to give your best even when it's not required by someone else.

Hustle matters. Hustle wins games!

MOBILE DEVICE USE

The use of mobile devices is so much more common now more than ever. However, a player's need for it on the field has not increased one iota since back before mobile phones were common. Yet, players often stay attached to their device right up until the start of practice or game. Even while their teammates help set up, players are still focused on their phone! I've also seen players go in their bag to check their phone during/throughout a practice or game. There is really no need for this. There's no reason players can't put their phones away at least 10 minutes prior to start time and keep them away until after the team is dismissed for the day.

SWEARING

When I was in college, swearing was not allowed. When our local high school teams play on TV, coaches often remind them about their language. Players trying to get recruited often watch their tongue if scouts are in the stands. If it's good enough for you do to when you want to be on your “best behavior” it's good enough for EVERY day. Again, we're talking about creating the right habits that will help you be successful when it matters most. This means practicing these habits daily vs expecting yourself to just do them right once, on the ONE occasion when it really matters. If it's good enough for your most important day, it's good enough for EVERY day. If swearing isn't acceptable in front of the umpire or in front of your most important spectator, it's not acceptable on the field at all.

APPEARANCE

From my experience, most leagues have the same appearance rules from game to game. Shirts must be tucked in, certain jewelry is not allowed, etc. Rules don't change from week to week or game to game so players know exactly what's expected of them. Therefore, there is no reason for games to be stopped because a player is improperly equipped.

If you're a player trying to secure playing time, get this right without being told! If you can't even bother to show up to the field the way you're supposed to, why should the coach trust you to do what you're supposed to do during the game? If you want your coach to trust you with bigger things, like playing time, make sure he or she can trust you with the little things, like showing up to the game properly dressed!

Plus, a neat appearance, like hustle, just shows that you care about and have pride in being a softball player!

SHOWING UP ON TIME

This is a skill that translates easily into life. Coaches agree, if you're on time you're late. Showing up on time doesn't mean you're at the field when practice starts. It means you're already ready to start training BEFORE practice starts. Your bag is put away, your equipment is in it's proper place, your shoes are on your feet, your shoelaces are tied, and you're ready to GO when the coach calls everyone up to start practice. Showing up on time allows you to get the most out of your training, minimizes distractions, and allows the team to get off to a good start each day.

TEAM YELL

Team yells are typically done at the start and at the end of a game or practice. Therefore, make it a point to always start well and end well.

Your “before” team yell should be your best, most enthusiastic yell. It sets the tone for your practice or game. If you were heading into the championship game, what would your yell be like? Do that every time. If you want to be a champion, you must train like one daily.

At the end of your game or practice, no matter what the outcome, no matter how good or bad the day went, no matter how tired or how energetic you feel, give a great team yell! Do it as if you just won the championship game. Don't allow outside circumstances to affect how you do this simple task.

One of the biggest problems players and teams have is they allow less than ideal circumstances to affect how they perform. When things don't go well, they don't play well. Obviously this is a problem.

You can practice overcoming this starting with your team yell. Don't allow how you feel at the beginning or end of a practice or a game affect how you do your yell. Make it great every time. Practice giving your best yell no matter what. It's the first step in learning how to give your best when you play no matter what adversity comes your way. Your team yell gives you an opportunity to What about you? Where can you get better? What little thing can you be more excellent at today and every day? Get started now by choosing ONE thing and making a point to do it well every chance you get. To your ultimate success on and off the field.

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A Message for Benchwarmers

Written By Stacie Mahoe

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A Message for Benchwarmers

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No matter how many, or how few, teammates you have, the reality is, only 9 can fit on the field at a time. For smaller teams, this may not leave too many players on the bench. For larger teams, it's possible that half the team is left sitting on the bench.

Regardless of team size, as a non-starter, you are probably far more important than you realize. In fact, I believe that “the bench,” the non-starters, are the foundation of a team . They are the ” rock” or the “sand” starters stand upon. After all, a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link and teams are only as strong as their weakest players.

You can have great talent on your team , but all it takes is one person's negativity and doubt to weaken a team. On the flip side, a solid, positive bench that stays “in the game” serves as a strong foundation for starters to rely on for much needed support in the toughest of times!

If you're not a regular starter, always remember, no matter what your skill or experience level, YOU bring something special to your team. There IS at least ONE thing you do better than anyone else on your team. Make it a point to contribute that each and every day. Imagine what would happen if each person on your team did this. How many different areas of the game would your team have strengths in?

Think about it for a minute. What do you do better than anyone else on your team? Figure out what that is and be the absolute best you can be at it for your team all season long!. Your team needs what you have to offer!

After each and every game, you should know that you did something to help your team whether you played every pitch or none at all. If you can't think of anything you did to help then you didn't do your job. You' re important. You matter. You're either affecting your team positively or negatively every day. There's no in between. Make your impact a positive one.

How?

One way to do is to PUSH yourself in practice.

Why?

1. Because you will improve your skills faster

2. Because you will increase your chance at earn ing some playing time

3. Because pushing hard in practice helps you get GAME READY just in case the starter in front of you gets sick, gets injured , has some kind of outside obligation to attend instead of coming to the game, or simply has a bad day

4. Because coaches love players that go hard in practice and HOW you practice leaves 1 of 3 impressions in your coaches mind:

a) you do things half heartedly because you don't play much and the coaches are left with a negative impression of how you practice making them less likely to choose you if a playing opportunity arises

b) you don't slack but you don't push yourself either so you don't stand out in your coaches mind, again, you ‘ re not the first person that comes to mind if a playing opportunity arises

c) you work hard and push yourself daily, a very positive impression is branded into your coaches mind about H OW you practice which greatly increases the likelihood you ‘ll the a chance to play should the opportunity present itself

5. Because the more you push yourself, the harder the starter in front of you works which helps them raise their game to a higher level which, in turn, makes the team better!

Pushing yourself daily is just ONE way to help your team as a non-starter. The more you push, the better you get, the better your team gets, and the bigger the contribution you make to your team's success!

But that's not all you can do to help your team succeed . Here are 10 more ways you can help your team and make a positive impact from the bench …

– Show up on time

– Set up, carry, or put away equipment

– Help set up practice or pre-game stations

– Help keep the dugout organized and clean so everyone can get in and out quickly and safely

– Study your opponent- Retrieve foul balls during a game

– Communicate game situation reminders to those on the field

– Hustle

– Keep the team atmosphere positive by constantly encouraging and uplifting your teammates

– Hold yourself accountable to perform the best you can each day

I'm sure you can think of a few more after reading that list. Think about it, then choose 2-3 areas you can focus on and start making a positive, memorable difference on your team .

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Are Your Everyday Habits Limiting Your Performance?

Written By Stacie Mahoe

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Are Your Everyday Habits Limiting Your Performance

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Softball players dedicate a good chunk of time and effort improving softball skills. However, many also have regular, everyday habits that may be holding back their performance. Simple adjustments to these areas can help improve performance, and overall health, without any additional time in the batting cages or in training on the field.

Here are 5 areas where small changes can make a big difference …

Gear Up

This one is pretty common sense, but often overlooked or ignored. Basically, if you play in pants, practice in pants. If you play in shorts, practice in shorts. If you wear compressions shorts for games, wear them for practice. If you plan to play with sunglasses, practice with them on. If you plan on using batting gloves in the game, use them in practice. The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar with your game gear on game day. Practice in game-like gear as often as possible so you can feel comfortable and relaxed for optimal performance in competition.

Sleep

Sleep is essential for recovering after a demanding softball day, optimizing brain function, and maintaining ideal performance weight. Most agree that sleep matters but did you know that the hours before midnight are far more valuable for rejuvenation than those after midnight? If you tend to sleep late, simply going to sleep earlier, even if you sleep the same number of hours, could make a great positive difference in your daily mood, energy levels, and well being.Your body does quite a bit of maintenance during sleep. Skimping on regenerative activity by not sleeping enough causes both your physical and mental performance to suffer. Lack of sleep also makes you more likely to get sick because you're not giving your body enough time to repair damaged tissues.

In addition, many types of emotional development and thought processing occurs during the sleep state for most people. Not giving yourself enough sleep harms you in an emotional way as well as a physical one, neither of which supports your optimal performance on the field.

Hydration

Proper hydration is important for everyone, but even more so for athletes because of the physical and mental demands of training and performance. Numerous studies show that even low levels of dehydration impairs performance. Dehydration causes reduced aerobic endurance, increased body temperature, increased heart rate, and reliance on carbohydrate as a fuel source. You may not think about it, but reliance on carbohydrates only as fuel is not ideal, especially if you didn ‘t properly fuel yourself before training or competition. Even if you consumed carbs before training, carbs don ‘t stay in your body as carbs for very long. If your body is reliant only on carbs for fuel and won ‘t use body fat for energy, once your carb source is gone, your energy tanks and your body will not have fuel to power your performance, physically or mentally! Obviously, this is not something you want happening.

Even just a loss of 2% bodyweight causes an increase in perceived effort and is claimed to reduce your performance by I 0-20%. A fluid loss exceeding 3-5% of your bodyweight, not only reduces aerobic exercise performance noticeably, but impairs reaction time, judgement, concentration, and decision making, all of which are vital in softball.

Bottom line, make sure you're drinking enough water before during and after training or competition. Don't wait until you're thirsty because it your feel thirsty, you're already partially dehydrated.

Hydrate well so you don't feel thirsty. Also, sports drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade vs just water are preferred during prolonged activity (i.e. 2+ hours).

Nutrition

Even players who don't struggle with weight may be able to better fuel themselves with better food choices. Eating more whole foods and less fast/processed foods really does make a difference in energy levels, health, and well being.

While fast food may be convenient during a hectic softball season, it does not nourish or fuel your body like real foods do. Processed foods are harder for your body to digest, sapping energy you could be using for performance. Plus processed foods typically provide less nutritional value per calorie, giving you less bang for your buck so to speak. As you can imagine, consuming useless or empty calories can quickly lead to weight issues for some. It also makes your body work harder than it needs to by burning energy to digest food that gives back very little nourishment. On top of that you need to eat more to get the nutrients you need which taxes your digestive system even more. I think you can agree, it's probably better not to have all that going on while training or performing!

That said, I don't recommend limiting calories for young softball players. Instead, choose more nutrient dense foods which provide as much nutritional value as possible vs consuming empty calories that do little to no nutritional good for your body. This means eating more real food (things that used to be alive at some point) and minimizing foods that come out of a package or a box.

Sugar is another culprit related to processed food. Not only does sugar hamper your performance by reducing mental sharpness, zapping your energy after the short initial high, and making it difficult for your body to bum fat as fuel; it's also linked to many major diseases we see in American society today such as Alzheimer's and cancer. Unfortunately, sugar, or some form of it, is found in practically all processed foods! Just another reason to minimize consumption of food that comes in a package or box.

Unwind

Make time to relax, unwind, refresh, and rejuvenate. You may not get an opportunity each and every day, but make it a point to unwind every now and then, especially if you begin feeling overwhelmed. This doesn't need to take a lot of time, nor does it have to be complicated. There are many small things your can do to quickly “recharge your batteries.”

– Connect with an uplifting friend, even if it's just for 10 minutes.

– Treat yourself to a nice bath instead of just a quick shower.

– Put some music on and dance to a few of your favorite songs.

– Jot down your worries in a journal and put them aside for another day.

– Take 10 deep, slow breaths.

– Take a few minutes to declutter and jot down the awesome things in your life or day, big or small. Space or room. A clear space can help you feel better.

– List your blessings. Take a few minutes

Whatever you choose, simply find something to break up the pace or activities of your day-to-day grind so you can reset and refresh your mind, body, and spirit.

As an athlete, you demand a lot of your body. Take good care of yourself so you can perform at your highest level. Choose one or two of the areas mentioned in this article and make some small adjustments. You might be surprised at just how much it helps.

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Want vs. Do

Written By Stacie Mahoe

Want Vs. Do

Make Sure What you want lines up with what you do

Have you ever heard people talking or grumbling about life changes they supposedly want or “need” …

“I want to lose weight.”

“I want to earn more money.” “I need a new job .”

“I want to pay off my credit cards.”

yada, yada, yada

Sound familiar? You hear people say these phrases all the time, BUT how many of them actually DO anything about those wants? Do their actions line up with what they want?

Are they doing anything to lose weight instead of gain it?

Are they doing anything to put themselves in a position to earn more money, like increasing knowledge or learning new skills, or are they just wishing for it?

Are they doing anything to find or train for a better job or do they just sit and complain about their current employment?

Are they doing anything to pay off those credit cards, like paying more to it than they charge each month?

What about you? What about softball?

Do you “want” to move up in the batting lineup but then go through the motions during hitting drills?

Do you “want” to be a pitcher but then try to get out of all those pitching drills and extra practice sessions?

Do you “want” your players to dominate on the bases but rarely practice taking leads , sliding, reading change-ups or dirt balls early, or getting out of the box quickly?

Do you “want” your players to execute the short game at will but forget to make bunting a regular part of your offensive practice?

Granted, you may not get everything you want, but. ..

If there's something you really, really want, something that ‘s more important to you than just about anything, do a self check! Does what you do day in and day out line up with what you want? If so, congratulations! You're on the right track.

If not, you're probably stuck in the trap of “wanting” something but doing nothing about it. Don't worry, you're not alone. It happens to all of us for a number of reasons. Most commonly it's because…

  • You don ‘t really want this thing as badly as you say or think you do
  • You aren't sure what do to do accomplish what you want
  • You're focused on another more important goal
  • You have no good reason, just need a loving swift kick in the butt or
  • You need someone to hold you accountable

So how do you overcome these issues and finally start taking steps toward what you want?

Decide: The first thing you need to do is decide what's really important to you. What is it that you really, really (did I say ” really”) want? If you haven't taken action on your “want” yet, take a moment to re-evaluate and make sure it ‘s not just something that sounds good or “would be nice” if you accomplished it. Get clear and be specific about what really matters to you. It's okay to change your mind or put other less important goals on hold while you focus on chasing down the one matters most. Decide what it is you ‘ re after and decide that you will do what it takes to get there.

Take that first step: You may not know each and every step you need to take to accomplish what you want, but you CAN figure out a first step. You are capable of taking the first steps on your own. The most important thing right now is getting started! Think about it. What small thing can you start doing now that will take you closer to what you want?

Figure out what needs to change: To help you answer that last question, take a look at what you ‘ re doing now. What is currently helping you accomplish what you want? Are you doing anything that isn't helping you? Be honest with yourself and evaluate your actions and choices. Keeping doing the things that help you and adjust or drop things that don ‘t.

This first step doesn't have to be big. Start small and work from there. Maybe you need to start showing up for practice a little earlier instead of rushing every day. Maybe you need to focus just a bit more in your drills instead of engaging in chit chat. Maybe you need to sleep a little earlier instead of watching another tv show or staying on facebook. Maybe you need to hydrate well with water instead of drinking soda or juice. Again, it doesn't needs to be something huge. Look for ONE thing you can change right away and take that first baby step toward getting what you want.

Ask for help: If you feel like you're doing everything you can but still aren't making the progress you want, ask for help. Maybe you need a little more work on your hitting or pitching or fielding. In addition to taking extra reps , ask your coach or instructor if they see something you can do better. What can you tweak to imp rove your performance? Be open and willing to listen to feedback and make adjustments as needed. While you can make great progress by simply making a point to apply what you already know, don't be afraid to ask for help. There's always more to learn. Asking for help does not make you weak or stupid , it makes you smart and resourceful! Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective to help take your game up a notch. Watch, listen, learn , and apply concepts that work for you.

Build in accountability: In addition to writing your goals down and putting them in a place you ‘ll see them often, accountability can put you on the fast track to accomplishing your goals. If no one knows about your goals it's easier to give up on them. Share your goals with positive minded people who inspire you and believe in you. Just knowing that someone else knows what you ‘ re trying to accomplish helps you stay on track and keep moving even when you feel like giving up. When you share your goals with the right people, you'll find cheerleaders who jump in and pick you up at just the right time or butt kickers who provide that loving, but well deserved swift kick every now and then. Choose people who support you, believe in you, who aren ‘t afraid to call you out when you need it, and who won't allow you to wallow around in a puddle of self pity for too long . A good support system is essential to success, but tough to find. Choose the people you surround yourself with carefully.

Take action today

I know I ‘ve given you a lot to think about and thinking is good, but taking conscious action is better. Doing the same thing you ‘ve always done will get you the same results you've always gotten. If you want different results, you must do something different.

Start small. Start now. Decide what you want. Think about whether or not what you DO lines up with what you WANT, make adjustments, and go from there. Make this season awesome. You got this!

Fastpitch From The Heart

Written By Stacie Mahoe

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Fastpitch From The Heart

Where Do You Learn and Grow Most? Strengths or Weaknesses?

As coaches and parents we strive to help player become the best they can be. This usually involves helping them improve in areas they need work. After all, that's part of developing as a player and getting better. You can't just work on your favorite part of the game or only do the drills you enjoy most if you want to become your very best.

I remember coaching a group of players who demolished anything over the middle or inside of the plate, but didn't do well at all on pitches to the outside of the plate. They either just stood there and watched the pitch go by or swung and missed. It was not pretty.

Obviously, this issues made them pretty easy to pitch to. There's no doubt we needed to address that outside corner. However, in effort to help, we can easily fall into the trap of focusing too much on weaknesses. Is that even possible?

I do believe it is.

I once heard Marcus Buckingham bust the myth that “You grow most in your area of greatest weakness.” He counters that “You grow the most in your areas of greatest strength.” That might sound strange, but think about this…

When you allow someone to work within their true strengths, in the areas they love most, they are more driven, more challenged, more persistent, more hungry for knowledge, more committed, and more successful.

You probably see this in players all the time. Take the hitting example I mentioned as an example. Players like that typically focus more on, and put more effort into, hitting the pitches they like most. If you leave it up to them in a batting cage, they'll take all their pitches in the spot they know they can hit.

When they “have to” work on other pitches, they don't go as “all in” as they do with the areas they like better and they are not as confident when they swing.

Obviously, when you work harder, are more committed to, and perform with more confidence in a particular area, you're going to see your bigger gains there than in areas you practice with less enthusiasm and confidence. Add to that the natural ability that lies within an area of strength and that makes growth exponential.

After all you can only get so much better in an area that's a true weakness. When I say “true weakness,” I'm talking about an area that they just aren't naturally built to excel at. Some weaknesses are only weaknesses because the player hasn't been coached in a way that “fits” her. No one made the light bulb go off so her ability to execute the skill just hasn't been brought out yet. That's not a true weakness.

A true weakness is something that you will probably never be fabulous at. You can get better, yes, but you'll never be elite in that area. Well, if you focus primarily on just those weak areas, you can only get so much out of that effort. There's only so much improvement you can make. Again, I'm not saying ignore them all together, just be careful where you put the most focus.

When you give the most attention to your true strengths and the true strengths of your players, you operate in the areas that can produce optimal results. Can you imagine a team were every single person contributed what they were best at every single day? How awesome would that be?

Players who tap into their true strengths, and what they enjoy most, can produce results for you over and over and over again throughout the whole season. Again, imagine if your whole team was doing that. Then in post-season you come across a team that isn't. They're tired. They're burnt out. Your team keeps gaining confidence and fulfillment in what they're doing and the growth they're experiencing. Who do you think has the best shot of winning that match up?

Which team would you rather be?

I'll give you another example of how focusing on strengths works.

My oldest daughter is not very big. From the time she started playing softball I felt mechanics and technique were the only

From being a tiny softball player who doesn't throw the best mechanically, way she'd keep up with players her age. She couldn't just rely on her size or strength to “get away” with poor mechanics. I spent years trying to improve her throwing technique. It's not awful, but there's definitely room for improvement in my opinion.

Around the time she was 12, I decide to stop beating my head up against that wall. I accepted the fact that her throwing technique would probably never be what I want it to be or that I wasn't the one that was going to help her figure it out.

Instead of getting on her about it all the time and frustrating us both, I decided to help her maximize the things she did well and was good at. Not only did she start making her biggest gains in the game after that decision, the whole experience became much more fun for both of us.

We discovered that she enjoyed working out and exercising to increase her overall athleticism. This, in itself, increased her throwing power, hitting power, and speed tremendously. Maximizing her strength in this area helped her offset her weakness in throwing mechanics.

As athletic as she is, the skill portion of any sport takes her a little longer to grasp than others. She's not the type of player that you can show a new technique to once and she can pick it up on the first attempt. She has to practice it. Thankfully, she loves the challenge enough to do it over and over and over again until she does “get it.”

It turns out increasing her stamina and endurance through all the functional training she loves to do serves her well in that area as well. She's able to take a higher number of quality repetitions during training than most players. This helps her keep up with those who tend to “get it” faster and helps her pass those who “get it” but don't bother to sharpen it since it came to them so easily. Again, maximizing her strength, helps her minimize her weakness.

When it comes to putting in “extra” time to improve as a player, my daughter focuses most on functional training because it's what she loves most. She would probably do it more often if she could. In addition to the benefit already mentioned, I believe it's helped her understand how to maximize from being a tiny softball player who doesn't throw the best mechanically, and was frustrated about mom always hounding her about it, she is now a still small 16-year-old who clocked a 61 mph overhand throw. She has a strong enough arm for coaches to feel comfortable playing One of the best decisions I ever made, while coaching and parenting her, was to focus more on maximizing her strengths and play to them vs hounding her about her weaknesses. Yes, you still need to work on areas you need to improve. Just be careful where you choose focus most.

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5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Skip Preseason Conditioning

By Stacie Mahoe

 

Reasons to not skip preseason conditioning

With the excitement of a new season approaching, it can be very tempting for coaches to forego pre-conditioning and jump straight into the fun stuff, fastpitch softball skills, team strategy, and lineup building. After all, how important is softball conditioning anyway? Conditioning doesn't win games. Won't practicing softball skills and teaching the game provide bigger benefits? Will giving up valuable practice time for conditioning really benefit your team when there is so much “softball” to teach?

While it may seem like a good idea to bypass the boring, un-glamourous, often mundane conditioning phase, there are a number of reasons why you shouldn't. Here are 5 of the biggest reasons why you don't want to skip pre-season conditioning:

CONDITIONING ENHANCES PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE

Obviously, one of the main benefits of softball conditioning is increased strength, power, speed, and endurance. Improving these basic areas of athletic fitness allow players to hit the ball farther, throw harder, make more plays, beat out more hits, and flat out perform at a higher level. Any time you improve a player's overall athleticism and fitness level you help maximize performance.

CONDITIONING ENHANCES TRAINING

What happens to softball technique and fundamental mechanics when players get tired? Typically form and technique get worse as fatigue sets in. You can practice all the softball skill work you want, but if your players don't have the conditioning and stamina to properly execute those skills all game long, all weekend long, all season long, what's the point? Additionally, a well conditioning athlete can perform a higher number of quality reps over the course of a practice than a lesser conditioned athlete. If your players simply go from being able to take 5 out of 10 reps with solid technique before getting tired, to taking 7 or 8 out of 10 well in that same time frame, how much of a difference would that make in just one practice? What about over a week, a month, or an entire season? Every quality rep counts and over the course of a whole season, those reps add up! The more quality reps your team can take during training, the more prepared they will be to perform on game day when it matters most.

CONDITIONING ENHANCES DECISION MAKING

Have you ever tried solving a complex puzzle or problem while dead tired? How well does that work? It's frustrating and you probably don't get very far before you feel like giving up. If you do stick it out, you probably take longer to figure it out than usual and you probably make number of mistakes along the way. I think you'd agree that your brain functions much better when it's fresh and when fatigue isn't a factor. This applies to your team's decision making on the field too. How well do you think your players make decisions when they're tired and fatigued? Not as well, or not as quickly, as players who aren't tired I can tell you that!

Want to test this out? Have your players do some base running or any other physically challenging drill. Then ask them to read a simple article or some cool motivational quotes while they relax and recover.

You'll see how tough something as simple as reading becomes. Reading is something your players do on a daily basis, often without even thinking about it (unless it's school related of course). Yet, during a relaxing recovery time after a drill, it becomes quite difficult. Imagine how difficult making critical decisions and executing softball skills under game pressure becomes when players are tired. Improving their conditioning and softball stamina helps keep their minds fresh and helps their decision making stay sharper for longer. Don't let your team be the one that starts making mental and physical errors first simply because they get tired first!

CONDITIONING ENHANCES TEAM BUILDING

One thing about enduring tough preseason conditioning with teammates is that, no matter how much one player may not get along with another, you almost can't help but respect someone who came out, day after day, through the conditioning period and shed a bunch of sweat (and maybe even some blood and tears too) right along side you. When you see someone bust their butt, just as much as you, in order to help achieve team goals, it becomes much easier to work with them regardless of personal feelings. Even if players don't always get along, through conditioning, they may find something to respect about their fellow teammates. Sometimes it' s simply the knowledge that they all care enough about the team's common goals to put in the work needed for everyone to be successful that helps pull things together for you. Either way, a tighter team that's willing to work with one another is a definite benefit.

CONDITIONING ENHANCES MENTAL TOUGHNESS

Conditioning allows you to challenge players, not only physically, but mentally as well. You get to see which players handle challenge well and which ones fold. You get to see which players get going when the going gets tough and which ones give up. You get to see how players react when they're pushed to their limit. Do they lift their team up? Or do they bring others down?

Even better? You can begin working on weaknesses in this critically important area during pre-season conditioning! Why wait until the season starts before you work on staying positive when things get hard?

Why wait until an important game to work on digging deep, laying it all out on the field, and never giving up?

Conditioning done right gives you a chance to work on these extremely important skills before the season begins, before your team ever has to face it in a game situation.

Again, what good is extra softball skill work if your players don't handle challenge well? If your team's attitude and morale take a dive once things get a little tough in a game or during the course of a season? Conditioning, on top of the previously mentioned benefits, provides an easy way to assess and work on essential mental game skills.

If you can't tell by now, I absolutely love the pre-season conditioning portion of the year. I truly believe it's where champions are made! I know it's not always the most fun. I know it might feel like you're not getting enough “softball” practice in. I just hope you see why I believe it can greatly benefit any player or team. Conditioning may not win games, but lack of it will lose games. Think about it. 🙂

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