Drills for the sake of drills
Check out any fastpitch softball flyer or website offering instructional materials and you will find tons of books and DVDs focused on drills, drills, DRILLS! It almost seems like an arms race sometimes to see who knows the most drills.
Don’t get me wrong – drills can be very helpful. But like anything else they need to be used strategically.
Drills are only valuable when they answer an actual need (other than keeping some players occupied while you work with others). Here’s what I mean.
Take a hitting drill that focuses on extension after contact. Seems like a worthwhile way to spend your time. But if the player already has good extension after contact, it can actually be wasting time that would be better spent on another aspect that isn’t as strong.
The same goes for pitching drills focused on the arm circle. While it can always be a little better, players only have so much time to practice. That circle drill might have already hit the point of diminishing returns, where time spent increases sharply while actual gains don’t rise much at all.
The other issue with doing drills for the sake of drills is that softball skills typically require multiple combinations of movements, whereas drills are designed to isolate movements. As such, drills are great for working on isolated issues.
Sooner or later, however, those individual pieces need to be rolled back into the full skill. Spend too much time on the drills and you won’t have enough time to develop the actual skill that’s required. Sort of like spending the bulk of your time cleaning your boat instead of taking it out on the water.
Once the player has learned the basics, my recommendation is to spend as much time as possible practicing the full skill, end-to-end, and then use drills to address problems you’ve identified within them. As opposed to just running through a set of drills because you saw them on the DVD.
It will be a much more efficient use of time, and will help you turn out more game-ready players.