Day Three at the NFCA Coaches College
Ok, technically this is the day after Day Three. By the time I got home, a six hour drive after the class finished, I was too exhausted to do my final report. And since I knew I was taking Monday off from work anyway I figured I could let it go a day.
The final day was a relatively short (and relaxed) session, from 8:00 AM to Noon, which included getting our certificates of completion. We had covered a lot of ground in the last couple of days, so this day was really focused on pre-game, post-game, during-game situations and things like that. The instructors also answered a lot of questions from the students.
Of course, one of the cool things about this program is that it isn’t designed to be a strictly one-way lecture. There was a lot of the instructors asking us what we think, or what we would do (or have done) in such situations.
One thing I noticed is how reluctant a lot of these good coaches were to speak up, at least early on. I kind of felt bad because I was answering a lot of the questions throughout the weekend. But I also felt bad for the instructors, because I know the feeling. I think we all do. You ask your team a question, such as “What do you do when you are on first, there’s a runner on second, there is one out, and the hitter pops it up?” and all you get are blank stares. So when the silence got uncomfortable I’d chime in so the instructors weren’t left hanging. By the last day, though, more people started providing answers, which was good.
The funny thing is, there are answers, but not necessarily the RIGHT answer. Even when we looked at situations from the Womens College World Series it was tough. They’d have a still photo from the TV broadcast on-screen, say here’s the situation, what would you do? Then we’d break into groups of four or so to come up with answers.
Trouble was, there was still a lot we didn’t know. One I recall is it’s late in the game (fifth inning I believe), you’re the home team and you’re down two runs. You have runners on first and second with two outs after a hit. Do you use a pinch runner, and if so for whom?
Our group was thinking put in a rabbit for the runner on first, because she might be able to score on a ball in the gap. You figure the runner on second will already score, and she’s only one run, so it’s the trail runner who’s key. But what we didn’t know was A) do we have any real rabbits on the bench, can the next hitter (or a pinch hitter put a ball in the gap), C) how fast is the outfield (and how strong are their arms), etc. But hey, that’s just like a real game isn’t it?
The other cool thing in all of this is the relationship the students develop with the instructors. Carrie Dever-Boaz made a point of saying that every time she does one of these classes she’s writing down notes and learning as she goes. John Tschida and Jay Miller agreed. There is just so much to learn in our game, so many great ideas and ways to teach it, that you can’t possibly know it all. That’s what keeps it challenging.
I know I had fun. I always enjoy going to these classes, and always come out with new ideas, drills, approaches and the like. I also enjoy meeting coaches from all over and hearing about their challenges and triumphs.
But since I know some of my fellow students also are Life in the Fastpitch Lane readers and Discuss Fastpitch members, what did you-all think? What were your favorite parts of the classes? What was your experience like? If this was your first time, would you do it again?
As for me, it’s off to take my follow-on test. Wish me luck!