Instructional Coaching
Recreation League Softball

The recreation league provides the best opportunity for instructional coaching in getting across the basic softball rules. Remember our coaching psychology?

Establish a fun teaching environment
that results in winning (eventually).

Warming up before a middle school softball game

This is your best opportunity to emphasize the fun as part of your teaching environment versus the winning.

It is important to establish a discipline on the team, but winning, particularly with the younger groups, is deemphasized, if the score is kept at all. Your players are generally on the same team due to neighborhood and friendships more than anything else. In the younger age groups, the softball players will range from the girl fully decked out in full softball attire, including sliding pads, cleats, and so forth, to the girl whose father picked up the glove on the way over to the first practice. Here is your chance to mold these “future stars” entire mindset towards the game of fastpitch softball, from how to play to why they want to play, both vitally important. This is even more reason why maximizing your coaching time is paramount. Make sure you put in place the stations practice from the very beginning!

What you will experience at the older age groups in recreation softball is that many of better players have left to focus on travel softball. That is the general perception, but what is more accurate is that many of the more dedicated softball players have left recreation softball to play travel softball. You are likely to have the following combination of girls continuing to play recreation softball. You may have some very athletic girls who focus on travel basketball, soccer, or some other travel sport and play softball only during the recreation season as a way to play with some of their friends. Their attendance at practice and games may be a little spotty because of their commitment to the travel sport. Another type of player you may have may also be good at fastpitch softball, but neither she nor her family have the desire, the time, or interest to make the commitment to a travel team and sacrifice the summer weekends when the tournaments are played. And still another player may play simply because her friends or family talked her into it. It is, as the name implies, purely for recreation. Understanding that these players will not have played or practiced fastpitch softball the entire year like their travel team sisters, it is very important that you incorporate the finer points of the game in your instructional coaching and utilize the station practice.

Softball player picture timeAnother near constant with recreation league softball is that most teams are coached by a dad. At times, coach dad may find himself in an awkward position either with his daughter or with the other parents. Favoritism is a popular complaint. It is important that you do everything in your power to allay those issues. One technique, if you have an assistant coach, is to have the assistant coach be the primary interface with your daughter when instructional coaching or game situations arise. If your daughter is a pitcher and you have someone acting as the pitching coach, leave it to the pitching coach to decide who pitches, when the pitcher needs to be replaced, and so forth. In addition, utilize the welcome letter to set parents expectations to ensure a smooth season.

Finally, of all the levels of fastpitch softball, recreation softball should have the least pressure and be the most fun. Remind people of this. Be patient with your players. Don’t miss the opportunity to teach the game of fastpitch softball and deliver on life lessons when the opportunity arises. Your players, parents and you will be glad you invested your time.

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