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By Colin Walsh

When you accept the important position of Coaching at any level, your players look to you as the leader and teacher. It's an important decision, but a rewarding experience that you'll never forget.

Let's face it-as players, we were taught by our parents, and we've all played the game-so how hard can it be to teach our kids? Plenty!

Good coaches know that we need to stay on top of the latest sports information and technology in order to teach our players proper technique, build their confidence and their sense of good sportsmanship.

Remember, coaching is not about the coach-it's about the young players you coach, and their future in the game and beyond. Take your personal competitive nature out of the picture-especially at the lower levels.

Here are a few things to consider when coaching your players:

Technique:
Beyond forming a good organization for your Team (Team Mom,Team Photographer/Videographer, and scorekeeper), developing plans for your practices and games that teach proper basic technique is imperative.

Your players will come to you at different skill and interest levels, but good drill-based plans will help bring their basic techniques closer which is key to building your Team.

Regardless of the age level you Coach-start with the basics and drill them all season long. Remember, this 6 year old will be playing ball for the next 10 years-do your very best to teach her the proper technique to build on into next year and beyond. If you're not sure-that's okay. Ask another Coach or do some simple research.

FGS has very specific and lofty goals for the girls in our program. That's why so many move on to Travel Teams and High School. Our coach-run clinics are specifically designed to provide the appropriate skills sets for each age level. FGS Board members are always on call to answer your questions when it comes to our players.

Drill-based Practices(good for coaches-great for players):
Gone are the days of setting up all of your players in the field and running batting practice, one player at a time for 2 hours while the right fielder gazes into sky.

Drill based practices are designed to break your players up into several different groups and focus on specific skill sets. This progression technique provides more "one on one" instruction and offers a fast paced practice that will keep the interest of all your players. In fact, you'll find that this efficient practice will cover more softball in much less time (leaving plenty of time for wind sprints!)

For instance, early in the season you may want to work on basic throwing, fielding, hitting and baserunning techniques. Rather than line up all 12 players and running through each drill, break them up into 3 or 4 groups and run the drills simultaneously. This way (especially at the younger ages) players aren't standing in long lines waiting their turn, tempted to wrestle with player behind them. Every 15 minutes or so rotate the groups to the different drills.

When setting up your practice plan-ask yourself these questions:

1. What do I want to achieve in todays practice?
2. Based on that-what drills will help my players reach these skill potentials?
3. How long will each drill run?
4. Which Coaches will run which drill?
5. Have I left time in my plan to meet with me players before, during and after practice?
Your plan should be discussed with your coaches beforehand, and explained to your players as well.

If you're looking for ideas, go online and research the particular  skill set you're trying to teach. For example, for a short simple throwing technique, Check out this video.

A good coach knows that once the season starts, it's tough to set up practice time, so make your pre-season practice plan progressive from general to specific. The fact is, your rec player will swing the bat, field grounders and catch fly balls 10 times more in the month before the season, than she will during the 2 months of the season. Plus we all know, it's tougher to teach in game situations. So take advantage of every second of your  practice.

Confidence:
One of the greatest accomplishments for a coach is to watch his players grow throughout a season. Softball skills aside, it's also our job to build the self esteem of each and every one of our players.

Encourage all players to reach individual goals set by both Coach and Player. These goals can range from making a solid throw from Third, staying in defensive ready position, to being a Team leader, or staying positive after a strikeout. Coaches need to be constantly aware of their players mental well-being regardless of the players skill level - leave no player behind. As a matter of fact, a good coach knows that his less skilled players will need more practice and encouragement. These are the players that will turn you into an even better Coach.


Sportsmanship:
Coaches lead by example. While it's not always easy to bite our tongue when the ump makes a questionable call, or Sally strikes out with 2 out and the bases loaded, down by a run- Coaches must understand their players are looking to them for guidance. Keeping your cool and shake the umps hand at the end of the game, and give Sally a pat on the back.

Players should be taught to respect their Coach, their teammates, the opponents, and themselves.

Building A Team:
The more you Coach, the more you realize how quickly the seasons pass. Your players come and go and move from team to team. Even so, try to work hard on building a Team identity that supports a family attitude right from the start. This makes the season enjoyable, and brings the players, parents,siblings and coaches together through every win and loss of the short season.

Some ideas include:
  • A Special Team Slogan
  • Special Treats for your Team
  • End of the year get-together
  • Nicknames on the players Jerseys
  • Special game Balls
  • FGS Team newsletter
  • If you're on the Blue Jays-bring your Team to watch a Blue Jays Team in another division.
  • End of the year photo slideshow
Lastly,
VIDEOS
A good coach can always learn new ways to teach young players. Check out these cool coaches links-to add more to your arsenal...great ideas for teaching proper technique and great way to build your drills portfolio. While trapsing around the softball video links, you'll find thousands of inspirational tools, so If you have any info to add to this page please . Lastly, if any of these links malfunction please let us know.


I created this powerpoint video to help first time and seasoned coaches. It will help you plan out your season from start to finish. Hope you enjoy it.
FGS BEST PRACTICES VIDEO

Throwing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcN3azy8GDY
http://www.playsportstv.com/softball/video#softball-drills_ready-position-for-fielding
http://www.weplay.com/youth-softball/drills/278
http://www.weplay.com/youth-softball/drills/280-Arms-Only-Throwing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFa7RyeMf28&feature=related

Misc Defense:
http://www.weplay.com/youth-softball/drills/342-Quick-Catch
http://www.weplay.com/youth-softball/drills/274-Fielding-Fly-Balls

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbHhW35Lkt8&feature=related-Catchers drills


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZLhf8Ep8t4&feature=fvw-fielding


Hitting/Bunting:

http://www.weplay.com/youth-softball/drills/344-Toss-Drills
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qarxkyVGY64&feature=related

Misc Offense:

http://www.ehow.com/video_2358677_lead-off-base-softball.html


Base running Drills (written)

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/eteam10.htm


Giving signs to base runner

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090619151533AAhAb3C


Great Softbal drills:

 

http://www.softballperformance.com/softball-drills/

 

Good Luck and Have Fun Coach!