Developing softball skills is like growing a plant
It’s springtime as I write this, and while it doesn’t look much like growing season yet where I live it definitely is in some parts of the country. So it seems appropriate to compare developing fastpitch softball skills to growing a plant.
At first, whether it’s a plant or softball skills it requires a lot of care and attention. For plants, if you’re growing from seeds you have to get the dirt prepared, plant the seeds, water them, feed them and watch over them carefully. If you let them go for even a few days they may not make it. If you’re transplanting, you have to remove it carefully from the old container and put it into the new dirt.
As the plant grows, its roots start getting stronger and deeper. You still have to watch over the plant and be sure it’s watered and fed, but it doesn’t take as much constant care. You can let it go a little longer than when it’s new and it will still survive.
Finally, as the plant matures, it just requires maintenance. Take good, basic care and it will do well.
Softball skills are the same. When you’re first learning, a lot can go wrong. It’s really important to get to those lessons and practice in-between so you can start building up the myelin layers and lock in on what you’re doing. If you miss a practice or two, though, it can really set you back – like not watering a plant.
As you get better, you can afford to skip a lesson or practice session here or there. It’s not ideal, but if your skill roots have “taken” you’ll have a strong enough foundation to be able to maintain your mechanics.
Eventually you get to the point where you’re not “learning” so much as tweaking or maintaining. Sure, there are always things to learn and improve upon. But your core mechanics should be there even if you’re not able to get to lessons or full-on practice sessions every week. Although I do have several pretty accomplished students who still come regularly, because they like to keep their games running at peak levels.
So as you think about yourself (or your daughter), what phase are you in? Have her skills taken roots yet? Does she require a lot of care and feeding? Or is she in full flower? Knowing the answer can mean the difference between success and failure on the field.