Daily Archives: June 30, 2009

Creating your own opportunities

Saw a great quote this morning from the Roman poet Ovid and felt inspired to share it. The quote read: “Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be fish.”

I like that idea of having your hook in the water. All too often, in softball as well as in life, players and coaches want to row their boats out onto the lake, then wait for the fish to jump into the boat. I suppose it happens sometimes, but if that’s what you’re counting on to eat you’re going to spend most of your life hungry and unsatisfied.

The first step in achieving your goals is to cast your hook into the water. That means being prepared when the fish come along. Obviously practice is a big part of it. The old adage “you play how you practice” really is true. If you go through the motions in practice to put in your time, you’re approaching it the wrong way. Your hook is dangling over the water, not really in it. But it’s more than practice.

It’s being on a team where you can learn and improve your skills, not just win a bunch of trophies. It’s being in a situation where you feel challenged on a regular basis. It’s putting in the effort to learn the game — not just your little part of it but what everyone else is doing as well.

If you want to play softball in college, it”s going to the camps of colleges you think you might want to attend. It’s making your skills video and contacting college coaches on a regular basis.

I have found over time that the universe rewards activity. Maybe not right away, but sooner or later. Whatever that big fish is to you, the only way you’re going to catch it is by having your hook in the water. Make a point of dropping yours in today.


Thinking a base ahead

Since we had the weekend off I had a chance to watch some games at a younger level — 12U specifically. After coaching high schoolers the last few years it was interesting to take a step back and see what was missing.

Probably one of the most glaring things was how the young kids run the bases. For many, running the bases meant getting to the next base, i.e. if the runner was on first her whole focus was on getting to second. The problem with that was once she got there, her mission was accomplished. Never mind that the ball was being thrown elsewhere, and there was an opportunity to get to third. She’d done her job.

Now, this wasn’t universal. There were definitely some teams that ran the bases better. But for the most part it was a skill or knowledge level that wasn’t there.

What I see in all this is an opportunity. When you’re coaching a younger team it’s often difficult to decide what to teach first. There’s so much to know you can’t possibly cover it all, even in one year — especially when you have to go back and repeat things to make sure they sink in. But if you want to do something that can have a quick payoff, work on baserunning.

Make sure your young players understand that the objective is to make it all the way home. The faster they can do that the more you will score. (Remember that they may not understand the big picture of scoring as many runs as you can. It seems simple but it may not be to a youngster just learning the game.)

Make sure they understand that they should never settle for one base if they can get two, or settle for two bases when they can get three. Make sure they realize things can be happening all over the field, and thus they need to pay attention to what’s going on around them. The more you can get them thinking aggressively, the less work you’ll have to do to score each run. And the more you’ll be able to take advantage of your opponents’ mistakes.

By the way, your team might not be that good at it right now, but they will learn it. Mine didn’t know it either once upon a time. But they did learn it — and in a tight game the team that can run smart gives itself a much better chance of winning. You can take that to the bank!

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