Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Building a Softball Team

Have I mentioned that K plays softball?

Not just plays softball, but really loves softball?

She's played every spring since she was 5 and every fall for the past few years. Over all those seasons, we've learned a little about what it takes to make a successful team and a successful player at each of the age levels we've played so far.

When we started this season, we had a great coach and some great players that we've been with before, but the team just wasn't at the same high level of play that they should've been. Sure, we had some new girls and some weaker players, but we had a good core of good players. They just weren't living up to their potential.

We had girls that could pitch, but only one good, consistent pitcher.

We had girls that could hit, but no good, consistent hitters.

We had girls that could field, but the girls were getting bored and inattentive in the field.

I puzzled over the difference as we hit a slump and lost game after game. Why were a historically good coach and players having such a hard time this season? I finally decided it was that the team lacked an aggressive, superstar talent that could motivate the others. We have talent and we even have an aggressive personality or two, but not anyone that could lead. The girls were defeated and they were digging the pit even deeper.

But then

We tied a high-scoring game. And we won a game. And the coach created a new training program for the pitchers and they started pitching well. And he encouraged everyone to swing the bat. And we won another game. And all that defense practice started to be used in games. And we won another game.

Suddenly the pitching wasn't losing the game no matter what the rest of the team did. The girls gained confidence and started enjoying playing and became more aggressive at the plate, on the mound, and in the field. We don't need one aggressive, superstar talent to motivate the team. They can see the difference themselves in the way they're playing and they LOVE it. Yes, it's not all about winning, but it is more fun when you win.

For awhile there, Lazy K had come back. She was taking it easy and getting bored and didn't really care all that much. She was getting shuffled between the outfield and third and batting toward the bottom of the line-up, which she didn't like, but didn't care to make the effort to prove herself.

The past few games have seen a huge turnaround in her play. When she's in the field, she's on her toes, bouncing and ready for the ball. When it comes toward her at 3rd, she's charging and making smart decisions of what play she needs to make. Their season tournament has started and tonight K made 2 double-plays and you never see double-plays at this age level. She has earned her spot at 3rd and is responsible for a large percentage of the outs of the last few games. Even the opposing coaches have complimented her.

Our team still has the same players we had at the beginning of the season. They are no more talented than they were back then. They have worked hard this season, but probably no more than any other team. We just found our winning formula. Once the pitching fell into place, the games finally became interesting to the other players and they've proved they have the stuff to play well. These girls became aggressive, knowing they have a chance to win. Our team is now the total package - we can pitch, we can defend, and we can hit.

And they are a whole lotta fun to watch.

Sent from my iPad

1 comment:

Heather said...

Can you record a game sometime and post or send?