Choose Your Partner Wisely

Written by Coach Dalton

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Dallas / Fort Worth Coaches Group


Your ability to do what you've been dreaming of is now out of your hands and completely in the hands of your partner. So think through all of your options. Choose carefully.

Some of you probably aren't comfortable with that. Trust your career to someone else. Yikes. But guess what? It's time to put your big girl pants on now.

Sure you rocked the first month diving from your knees and your feet leaning forward in May. Yeah you totally lit it up last month diving to your sides. But now it's time to put all your practice for the past 2 months together and do this at full speed like … I don't know maybe like you were in a game or something and the championship depended on it. To do that you absolutely have to have a partner committed to helping you by making great tosses.

Just as we got started two months ago the first diving should simply be for balls straight in front of you. What I love about the accompanying videos is that they are totally portable with you. No reason not to have your iPad at the field with you to watch Savannah and Graham this month (for you) and your partner can see how I toss the ball for them. What you both will see is that the tosses need to be low. Forcing you to get low, and get your glove under the ball.

If I was some big time fancy smancy instructor I would probably film them 100 times and edit the video so that everything you see is perfect. They look perfect. I look perfect. Reality is that I'm not sure how seeing two players doing perfect dives every time would help you. Yes these videos are supposed to help you understand the concepts and help you build confidence. But seriously you aren't perfect either. Just like you will see in the videos both of them do something wrong as we get started. What I don't want is for you to make mistakes and walk away thinking “I can't do it.” Instead I want you to realize that failure as you start learning is just part of the process. Also part of the process with a partner learning to make good tosses to lead you towards the perfect dive.

As you are watching them come forward once I feel like they are both into it I just make some tosses that will force them to their side. As they did on their knees initially in June Graham and Savannah's brains are smart enough to say to their hips “pivot 12.2 degrees to the left/right” and as they dive they are still really diving “straight” it just happens to not be coming straight at you. This will be important for your tossing partner to understand as well. No need to say “lets do 5 straight, 5 to the right side and 5 to the left side” just let them know that once you appear comfortable they should toss it to lead you in any direction so that you will see just how smart and athletic you are. As with last month the most important thing to remember is to always, always, always extend both of those arms so whether or not you make the catch you come up safely.

As you feel comfortable you can work on practicing tosses where you are running full speed to one side or the other and have your partner toss the ball. From your vantage point you are simply catching a ball straight in front of you but your partner is tossing it much differently now because they see that you are actually going side to side. A key learning point that you will hear during this drill in the video is me telling Savannah to “super woman” the catch. What you don't want to do is get in the habit of hitting your knee before diving. You want to imagine that you are flying through the air like super woman. If you recall from the very first diving video when you “fly” like super woman your neck will be arched, your chest will be off the ground and your knees will be slightly off the ground. If you haven't watch that video or haven't tried it just lay down right now. Extend your arms forward and imagine that you are flying. See to easy. By doing that you will ensure that it is your torso, that large area of your body from just above your knees to just below your chest that takes the impact of the dive and ensures that your face doesn't plant into the ground. When diving for the ball the added advantage is that it kind of forces you to watch the ball into the glove when your fear might normally take over.

Ok now back to the video. One of the final things you need to work on is diving for balls that are over your head. This is one of the hardest things there is to practice. Please not because it's hard for you because you totally rock by now. It's hard because it is so hard for the tosser to judge where to toss the ball. As we practice in the video you'll notice that Savannah starts on her knees again, I have her lean out and give me an idea of where to toss the ball. Once I'm comfortable that I have a good idea of where to toss the ball, and you know it's all about Coach Dalton, I have Graham try it standing up. You can do the same thing. From your perspective the only difference in everything dive you have done thus far is that you are looking backwards in the opposite direction of where you are diving. Good thing there are no trees or brick walls in the middle of our fields.

I want you to know that I truly consider it a blessing for you to bring me into your household and give me the opportunity to help you improve in this sport that I so deeply love. As the video ends I want you to replay it multiple times. Get the sound of my final “THAT A BABY” into your head. From this point forward as you start totally robbing other players of solid hits that they thought they had, feel free to replay “THAT A BABY” in your head. Cause I'm always in your corner and by all means feel free to thank your partner. Because the reality it is would be hard for you to build the confidence to make the play you just did without their efforts in leading you with the perfect toss. They kind of rock to.

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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

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