In other words, all the outcome-focused thoughts. Hitters have to just focus on this pitch, right now, see the ball and hit it hard. Remain focused on their process and not worry about the rest.
Putting on the backpack/bat bag is a great way to demonstrate how carrying extra baggage to the plate can get in the way of good hitting. If you have a hitter who is struggling, give it a try. It just might help them clear their heads.
That's my thought. What have you done to help hitters regain their focus?
Ok, this isn't exactly softball, but tonight I feel compelled to write on this topic. There are a great many reasons I sincerely, deeply love the United States of America, but I heard a couple of stories today that I just have to share. Both have to do with the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
The first is one of those things that is kind of goofy, really, but deeply American. I heard that at Major League Baseball parks all over the country last night, the stadiums played, and the fans sang along to, Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. That is the signature song at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. The significance of the song, I think, is that it was written about Caroline Kennedy.
The first place that was mentioned as singing the song was Yankee Stadium in New York. Now, if you're not familiar with it, Yankees and Red Sox fans hate each others' teams with a passion. They say awful, horrible things to the visitors, and fans get into fistfights all the time. The rivalry was alluded to in the Ocean's Twelve movie, where George Clooney and another character (Scott Caan, I think) fake getting into a fight on a train as a distraction to switch out two bags.
It's definitely an interesting way to show support. But it shows the spirit of this country. As I write this we don't know who did it, but baseball fans all over the country sang the song to show support for their fellow Americans in Boston, and to show that America's spirit is not going to be broken or even damaged by an act of terror.
This is what we do as a country. Sure, we may fight amongst ourselves, but when things look bad we close ranks and support each other. My feeling is a lot of that is due to the fact that most Americans aren't native to this land. We either chose to be here, or we chose to stay here. We are mutts (as they say in Stripes), and we believe in equality. And when you believe in equality, well, hurt one of us and you hurt us all. America's colors are red, white and blue, and they never run. We are proud of who we are, and we will take on all comers.
The other event was a video of Boston Bruins fans singing the National Anthem at a game against the Buffalo Sabres. On a night when people could have stayed home, or cowered in fear, the arena was packed and those in attendance sang the Star Spangled Banner so loudly they drowned out Rene Rancourt singing over the PA system.
Yes, we can seem loud, obnoxious and pushy to the rest of the world. Yes, we have our internal differences. But in the end, you can't divide us by attacking us. Come after us and we will stand united.
Tonight I am extra proud to be an American.
Finally! The weather finally got halfway decent, the snow had melted off the field, so I got to watch a high school softball game. It was a JV game, but softball is softball. Or so I thought.
It was pretty brutal. The team I was rooting for (because one of my players was helping out there today) just destroyed the other team by 20+ runs in each game.
Truthfully I started feeling bad for the other team.Their girls were trying hard, but they just don't have the skills. I actually saw a ground ball roll through the second baseman's legs out to right field, where the right fielder kicked it into center trying to pick it up, and the hitter wound up on second instead of being thrown out easily at first. All it was missing was the music from the Bad News Bears (the original 1976 version, still the best!).
That got me to thinking. Some sports use a handicapping system to make them more balanced and fair. Horse racing, for example. They add weight to the load the horses have to carry to make everything more balanced.
Or what about golf and bowling? They let the weaker player subtract strokes from or add pins to their scores to balance things out more. In sailboat racing they subtract time from the times of the slower boats to even things out a bit.
So why not softball? Rather than watching a complete blowout, which is the equivalent of watching paint dry, why not institute a handicapping system that gives the struggling team a chance at a comeback, and gives the far better team more of a challenge, which makes the game more worthwhile?
It wouldn't kick in right away. But let's say you set a 15-run limit. After that, the losing team gets to add an extra fielder or two to try and cut down on the number of errors by closing up the field.
Or you can do what we did as kids when we didn't have enough players - close a field. For right handed hitters you could close left, i.e. any ball hit there is an out and a dead ball, and any runners on base have to go back. For lefties you'd close right field. Not only would that cut back on the scoring, it would force the hitters to have to learn how to go to the opposite field.
An obvious one is to have the hitters on the successful team turn around and hit opposite-handed. I remember doing that in co-rec softball years ago. Or you could force them to use cheap aluminum bats instead of their $350 super bats.
Here's another idea. After 15 runs, the two teams switch pitchers. That way the better pitcher is pitching to her own team, challenging them, while the weaker team gets to hit off the pitchers who's been getting pounded all game. Either they'll hit better or the pitcher will feel better about herself.
The dominating team could start each inning with one out, and/or the hitters would have an 0-1 count. Or you could give the weaker team an extra strike. (I've noticed many umpires tend to do that anyway by closing up the strike zone for the better pitcher trying to make a game of it.)
Obviously, this is tongue-in-cheek. Truth is it's up to the coach of the weaker team to coach his/her players up so they improve. Still, when you're wondering if the inning will ever be over, the mind does tend to wander.
So how about you? What sorts of handicaps would you impose to help move the game along?