Going from the cage to the field
One of the most frustrating things for both coaches and parents is watching your player kick butt in the batting cages, ripping balls left and right, only to go into a game and wimp out. You know they can hit. You’ve seen it. But they don’t. Why?
A lot of it comes down to consequences. In the batting cages, there are no consequences. If you miss a ball, you get another one. There’s no runners on base to be brought around, no coaches or parents screaming encouragement and/or advice, no win or loss at stake.
In the game, however, there are all kinds of consequences. And of course, with softball being a game built on failure, those consequences can be dire. You can strike out leaving runners on base. You can pop up, or ground into a double play. The more a player thinks about it, the more fearsome it becomes. And the more fear of consequences there is, the more players start tensing up, swinging to avoid a mistake rather than make a play.
It can be difficult to overcome, but not impossible. The key is to encourage hitters to be aggressive and not worry about outcomes. Instead of trying to avoid mistakes, they need to go into each at bat with the intent to hit the ball hard, consequences be damned. Coaches need to be sure they create an atmosphere where hitters can focus on doing their best without worrying about being yelled at for “failing.” Remember that even a strikeout can be a great at-bat if the hitter has taken the right approach.
Keep hitters focused on swinging the bat, and playing the game one pitch at a time. Soon you’ll see that great batting cage swing out on the field.