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.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on March 26, 2007, in Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. hi coach ken! I was just cleaning out my “memories box” and found a card you gave me about softball, not gonna lie it makes me miss it so much more… just thought id say hello, if you ever need any help with the thunder let me know! Claire

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  2. Hi Claire,So great to hear from you! I e-mailed you last night at your uwm address, but in case you check here first I wanted to let you know that I can use you with the Thunder this summer if you’re interested. I really need a full-on assistant coach if you have the time. If not, I’d still love to have you come out whenever you can. So what have you been up to? Did you graduate, and if so what are you looking to do?

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  3. Great advice! and I think you are dead on. My daughter is a freshman who’s play’s for her High School Team. I see this exact situation happening with her. I will take your advice and try to encourage her to take her cut’s and be aggressive.

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  4. Thanks, Robbie. I’ve seen it happen so often. Boy, if these kids would just believe in themselves they could do so much!

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