What are you looking for?
Softball players come in all shapes and sizes. If you are just starting a team or adding players to an existing roster, what does your ideal player look like? Is she fast? Is she exceptional in the field? Is she a power hitter? Is she a lights out pitcher? Those things do not matter unless the following four characteristics are there in the following order:
If the player does not want to play or is playing because mom or dad made her play, you have a brewing problem on your hands that will manifest itself in missing practices, missing games, team disruption and worse. If, on the other hand, the player wants to play and is pushing to compete, I don't care what skill level the player has, it means that she is moldable. She will run through a wall for you. She may be a bit player the first year, but watch the improvement from year to year. And, as that is happening, the undying devotion to you and the team. She will be a sponge trying to learn everything she can. The number one job of the coach is to maintain a high desire level throughout the team.
© Ron Mayhew
Attitude can sometimes go hand in hand with desire, but not necessarily. The softball player can have a great desire to play, but her attitude could be extremely poor if it is all about her ... all about her stats ... all about her "future". Has she bounced around from team to team year after year? Maybe it's worth finding out why.
The ideal softball players are the ones that not only want to play, but puts the team ahead of themselves. If she is one of the better softball players on the team, she helps "coach" the less skilled players. She is an includer
. If your best players are all about including everyone in everything regardless of skill level or playing time (i.e. no clicks) you will have an extremely confident team which will lead to a very winning team.
Ok, so up until now, it was all about the mental (What did Yogi say? ... "Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical" ... hence our emphasis on desire and attitude.
First of all, you can never have enough good pitching. If you come across a player that satisfies the mental part, than she is likely a good candidate (depending on focus four ... parents). You will have to sort through pitching time, but that is a good problem to have.
As far as adding field players, evaluate how your team performed last year. Did you only score by hitting the long ball (extra base hits) and if the bats went cold, you were in trouble? Maybe you need to add speed at the top of your line-up to manufacture runs against those tougher pitchers. Did you always have to string together three, four hits in an inning to score runs? Maybe you need a powerful clean-up hitter to make run production a little easier. How was your defense? They say the heart of the team is up the middle. How did your catcher, shortstop, second baseman and centerfielder perform? Where they almost always flawless? How about your third baseman? Is she agile enough to handle the laser shots but also astute and quick enough to handle the small ball game?
If you are just starting a team, how do you want your team to play? Sound defensively? Small ball team with great speed (can’t teach speed)? Or big bats? Whatever it is, it is unlikely you will get there the first year, but start building and, most importantly, COACHING
in that direction.
© Kim Jew Photography Studio
We've spoken before about how parents can affect the team
. When adding players, this must be a serious consideration. If the payer seems like a perfect fit, but there is no way the parents will be anything but disruptive either with other parents or with the team overall, then you will have a huge problem on your hands. The more time spent placating parents, the more time you spend away from coaching. AND if the other parents, especially those who have been with you in the past, see special treatment, you will have a full blown mutiny. Avoid this at all costs. The team will be as tight and focused on playing as long as the parents collectively maintain a positive attitude.
We've said many times that the biggest thing for the player is to be confident in her abilities. It is the job of the coach to instill that confidence. Peak Performance Sports
has a great e-book on instilling confidence for the competitive edge called Get Psyched for Sports
. It is a great read for players, coaches and parents.
Top of Softball Players
Home to Fastpitch Softball Coaching
Return to Softball Rules