Daily Archives: November 6, 2010

Day two at the NFCA Coaches College

Just got back from the NFCA Coaches College. Today was the long day. We started at 8:00 AM and finished up a little after 5:00. That’s a lot of softball talk, but it seemed to go by pretty quickly. Helps to have instructors who are polished presenters!

First off, one thing I forgot to mention yesterday is that I’ve run into a few Discuss Fastpitch Forum members. That was cool. So many of us go on there and “talk” anonymously with one another. It was nice to put faces with names, and to hear people find it valuable. If anyone else is there, stop by and say hello. I’m “Babe Ruth.” Attendees will know what that means.

For the last hour of the class today we got to watch each of the instructors run a mini practice. It’s fun to watch someone else do it, see how they approach things and how they relate to the players – all of whom are either middle school or high school age. Got a couple of good drills, a couple of variations on some old ones, and some neat vision training ideas.

At the end they had all us coaches do a little pitching with wiffle balls and a little fungo hitting. I can safely say I nailed the pitching part, which should be no surprise. In addition to teaching pitching I usually pitch BP before games — with wiffle balls. So the drills there were pretty easy.

Fungo hitting was another story. We were supposed to hit fungos and knock balls off of tees. I was horrible! I think we each got three shots. The first one I pulled and almost hit Carrie Dever-Boaz and a young lady named Morgan who was helping out. The second one I whiffed entirely. I finally got a decent ground ball my third try. Of course it was nowhere near any of the three tees. Good thing my players weren’t there to see it. I totally cracked under the pressure, I guess.

For the classroom part we covered a lot of ground on game-day types of things, including charting (which I always intend to do but never seem to get done), evaluating opponents, game planning, coaching on the bases, things like that. I picked up some interesting ideas on how to keep players who are not in the game involved.

Here’s one: have your pitchers who are not in the game try to steal the other team’s pitching signs, and reward them if they are successful. Or have other players try to steal bunt, steal, etc. signs. Even if you don’t use the information it gives them something to do and helps them learn the game.

It’s funny, because I have random notes all over my notebook as various topics and ideas come up. There’s a lot of material to absorb, but the key is how you can apply it. Even the instructors say they don’t do all of it. But there’s plenty there for any of us to choose from, all of which will help us get better.

Tomorrow we go from 8:00 AM to Noon. Thankfully, we get an extra hour of sleep tonight so it should be doable! Then I get to drive back home.

I know I say this all the time, but anyone who has been there will agree. These are awesome courses. If you’re serious about your coaching career and helping your players, get yourself to one. You’ll quickly get hooked.

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Day one at the NFCA Coaches College

Well, I’m back at it again. I am up in Minnesota for the NFCA Coaches College course 407 on Game Day coaching. Our instructors this time are Jay Miller, John Tschida and Carrie Dever-Boaz.

Today was the first day – a five-hour session that combined classroom (actually auditorium) discussions with some live observation of some local players. Lots to think about as a result.

We opened the class talking about the DP/Flex rule and how coaches can use it for more than just getting an extra player in the game. The key takeaway for me was the DP should be a player who is expendable. In other words, you have a lot of what she can do. For example, if you have a lot of speed on the team, you can make the DP a speed player. When it’s her turn to bat, you let the Flex bat for her, which takes her out of the game. If the Flex gets on base, you re-enter the DP and let her run. Of course, if you do it again the DP will be out of the game. But that’s where the idea of what you have a lot of comes in. You just put in another speed player as a sub and keep going. The Flex can go in and out for the original DP as often as you want.

We looked at some of the considerations you might want to have when you get to the park, how to warm up a team and how to put together a lineup. Watching the players was fun. Jay, John and Carrie each demonstrated a drill they use with their teams. Too bad it’s probably going to be cold going forward in the Chicago area. I have some new stuff to try!

After the class, the instructors went out to dinner with anyone who wanted to go. That was fun too. I got to sit between Jay and John, and talk to them as well as several of the other coaches attending the class. It was a good time, although I think the Blue Moons started to get to me toward the end.

Tomorrow we have to be there at 8:00 for a very long day. But you know, when you’re learning cool stuff it doesn’t seem so long!

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