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Better Idea on Advertising for a Player

One the (many) things that make me shake my head in confusion is to see the way teams advertise for players. Whether it’s on a discussion board such as Discuss Fastpitch, in one of the many softball-related Facebook groups, or somewhere else, it’s always the same:

“‘Team Awesome’ is looking for two or three players to fill out its roster for the upcoming season. We need an ‘A’ level #1 starter; must throw 65+ with great control and command of all movement pitches. Also looking for a catcher with pop times of 1.7 seconds who can hit bombs and a shortstop with great lateral movement and an overhand throw of 60+.”

Aren’t we all?

I mean, look at those descriptions. Great teams start with being strong up the middle. If you can acquire a true Ace pitcher, a stud catcher, and a D1 prospect shortstop you’d be pretty well set up to win a lot of ballgames, even if the rest of your team was mediocre at best.

But that’s the thing. Those types of players don’t grow on trees. They’re highly desired by everyone, which means by the time Team Awesome’s ad runs those players have already been snapped up.

It’s also a pretty good bet that the name-brand top-level teams don’t have to advertise or post to find those players. Those players come to them because of their reputation and ability to get them seen by college coaches.

So it’s a pretty good bet Team Awesome is not going to find that caliber of player sitting around after tryout season is done.

That doesn’t mean Team Awesome can’t find great players – players who can help them elevate the state of their game. What they should be doing, in my opinion, is taking a tack more like this:

“Team Awesome has a couple of open opportunities for players ready to make a bigger impact and see the field more often. If you’re a great #2 pitcher stuck behind an incredible #1, come give us a look. If you’re a catcher who has been working her butt off to become a starter but can’t even get a look, we’ll look at you. If you think you have what it takes to play the field against high-level competition but just get overlooked on your current team, we could use another good (position) – especially if you can hit. Being on a trophy-winning team is nice, but being the reason your team earns a trophy is even better.”

Those are the players who are likely to be available. Or who are at least considering seeking their fortunes elsewhere.

Most kids sign up because they want to play ball, not sit on the bench while others play ball. And while there is tremendous satisfaction in working your way up and earning your spot on your current team, that’s not always in the cards for everyone.

Some players are victims of “Daddyball” or “Mommyball,” where the team is built for and around the daughter(s) of the coach(es). No matter how hard you work you’re never going to overcome that mindset, so a change of scenery will create new opportunities.

On the other hand, sometimes, no matter how hard a player works, there are others in their position who also work just as hard – and were blessed with more athletic ability/talent/whatever you want to call it. If a player is stuck behind that person – and rightfully so because she’s better – she can either accept limited playing time or find another situation where she can contribute more.

Those are the players you should be trying to find – the hidden gems looking for a place to shine. They can make just as much of a difference to your team as the studs you think you want but without some of the risk.

Because those stud players you’re advertising for can go anywhere. But the kids who are given opportunities to stand out will likely be at least a little more loyal to the team that gave them that opportunity. Which means you’re less likely to have to run the same ad next year. They’re also likely to be a little more forgiving if your team isn’t quite as awesome as you told them it was during the recruiting process because at least they’re getting the innings they were looking for.

Next time you’re looking for a couple more players, instead of advertising for known studs try encouraging those looking for an opportunity to prove they can be the studs to give your team a try. You never know who you might find that will make your team look better – and you like a recruiting genius.

A shoutout to all the dads who keep fastpitch softball rolling

Fathers and daughters build a special relationship through fastpitch softball

With Father’s Day coming up tomorrow I thought it might be a nice idea to say something nice about all the dads who spend hours upon hours keeping this thing we call fastpitch softball rolling.

Parent coaches in general tend to get a bad rap. The term “Daddyball” refers to dad coaches who tend to favor their daughters and their daughter’s friends over other members of the team. That is a real phenomenon for sure, but I like to think it’s in the minority.

Most of the fathers who get involved do it for a simple reason: they love their daughters and want to be sure their daughters have an opportunity to play. Someone has to coach the team, so it usually gets left up to a few fathers to volunteer.

Often they played baseball in their youths, although not always. (Special kudos to those who never played baseball but step up anyway. That’s not easy.) The key thing, though, is they believe their daughters should have the opportunity to experience the benefits of playing this game we love.

Then there are the dads who don’t coach, but still take their daughters out to practice with them, and/or take them to practices and lessons. They could be at home pursuing their own hobbies, or working around the house, or even watch TV. But instead they’re out there, night after night in the heat, the cold, the drizzle, sometimes even the snow.

Sunday is Father’s Day, the special day for dads. And where will they be? Out at a softball diamond, hoping to stay out there all day. No breakfast in bed, no presents, no Bar-B-Qs or other special treatment for them. Instead they’ll be in dugouts, bleachers, and camp chairs, eating bad concession stand food, wiping dust out of their eyes and cheering for their favorite players.

As someone who did it for many years, I can tell you the time spent at and around the diamond was some of the best times of my life. Not to mention all the time spent in cars driving to and from various activities. We had so many great talks, and got to know each other so well. Yes, I’m a little more into it than most, but I think every father who uses fastpitch softball as quality time with his daughter(s) is rewarded abundantly.

So here’s to you, all the dads who spend your summers traipsing all over the area, and sometimes all over the country, so your daughters can build the types of skills and memories that will last long after the last strike has been thrown. Thank you for all you do at every level.

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