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Old 03-21-2009, 07:21 PM   #1
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Default Coaching Softball - Any tips

Alright, this is going to sound weird. I'm the newest Coach in a Co-Ed Softball league. I don't really know much about the sport except for the very basics. Most of the players I've "picked up" have all played together, but none of them wants to be named as the coach for the upcoming season...and it seemed the only way we would all be able to play is if I volunteered.

I have played softball all of 4 times in my life...and it's been nearly 10 years since I last played.

What kind of advice/tips can you give me? We'll be starting practices later this week...and the season doesn't actually start until May.

I'm guessing my best players should be at 1st, Short, Left Center and either Deep Left...or 3rd. I have two experienced pitchers, so that's not really an issue. I've been told by several other of the players that the people asking to be at 1st and 3rd are solid as well. At this time, I don't know if I have a decent short stop. I've always played in the OF when I did play and used my speed to get under the ball properly. How hard would it be for me to learn Short...and what kind of drills should I do to shore up that part of my game (if I need to go that route.)
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Old 03-21-2009, 07:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

well in this softball league.. i'm guessing u can't have a lead off and there is no stealing.. in that case ur 2nd baseman and SS wouldn't have 2 wry about covering bags like they would have to in baseball... so basically they will have to be a decent cut-off man and would of to have a decent quick re-action
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Old 03-21-2009, 09:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

its all about practice.. right? you are the coach. controll the practice.

spend 5 minutes to write out an allotment of time for the 60 minutes or so you will devote to each practice.

-if you let the kids make requests and debate about what is fun or what you should be doing, before you know it you are 30 minutes in and conducting a tea party at the pitchers mound.

-always start with, and emphasize excersize and warm-ups. kids hate it, but it is a part of sports they MUST become accustomed to if they wish to continue.

-balance skill building drills (such as simple pitch and catch) with some competitive fun (such as scoring points tossing a ball through a hoop or into a barrel)

swinging the bat exersizes can be balanced with actual hitting competitions etc.

make it structured, and fun
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Old 03-25-2009, 06:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

I guess I should have given more details...LOL

Fortunately, the leagues is not for kids...it's an adult league. Most of the players have been playing in this league for a while. My understanding is that it's a semi-competetive league...though not nearly as tough as the Men's only league.

I've got several warm up routines in mind, to mix things up. I know I'll be focusing a lot on the "Core" (i.e. abs and back) as well as all-around conditioning.

Since my team is made up entirely of military members, their stamina shouldn't be terrible...though there will be a lot of running involved.

I've got a cool-down routine as well, which is mostly based around the standard military cool-down...so most of them should be used to that.

I've got a few ideas for drills, but wasn't sure what experience you all have with softball/baseball that might help me.

Because the teammates have been playing for a while, I'd like to focus more on fielding/conditioning than I would on the actual batting. I intend to have us go to the batting cages several times before the season starts...but I've always been a "defense first" type of personality...because if you can't stop people from scoring, you have no chance at winning at all.
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

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Originally Posted by xfl2001fan View Post
Because the teammates have been playing for a while, I'd like to focus more on fielding/conditioning than I would on the actual batting. I intend to have us go to the batting cages several times before the season starts...but I've always been a "defense first" type of personality...because if you can't stop people from scoring, you have no chance at winning at all.
While playing for PSU and later on coaching my daughter's softball teams for many years, fielding was always a top priority. When I drafted teams, I always looked for those who had a high fielder rating, as I felt batting was much easier to teach and/or fine-tune.

You want to have a first baseman who is very flexible and can catch the ball at all angles. At short, you want someone who is quick and can stretch on the run, preferably on either side. At third, obviously you want someone with a very strong arm who can throw across to the first baseman (that position doesn't really require being a top notch fielder). You also need a pretty strong fielder at second base (which was my position at PSU) as not only lefties hit the ball in that direction (switch hitter, ball hit off the tip of the bat, etc.). Your catcher must be someone who doesn't take exception at being bowled over at the plate and who is in "sync" with the pitcher. The best drill you can give your infield, imho, is to "position hit" to them or have someone come in to help you with that.

As far as the outfield goes, you should have people out there who can run to either side of their body and can backpedal quickly. Outfielders should be drilled on their abilities to field a ball on the ground (in case it gets through one of the infielders) as well as pop ups, flies, and being able to get the ball back into the infield (and to home plate) quickly. Be sure that none of your outfielders has an issue with losing a ball in the lights (if playing night games) or in the sun - this was always one of my negatives as a softball player and one of the reasons I couldn't play outfield and strived to be a good infielder.

You've got your work cut out for you, but I have no doubt you will do a great job! Keep us posted!
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:02 AM   #6
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

Actually, just about every parent wanted to coach, so they went by seniority, and I wasn't around last year, so...

It's that kind of comminity, though. HEAVY parental involvement. I'm actually coaching them outside of practice. I MUST be doing something right because the 12 year old is playing short and the 11 year old is playing second, and they are both solid hitters.
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

Xfl,

Don't forget about arm excersises. If people don't throw the softball except for during the softball seasons your going to have a lot of sore arms.

Oh is this Slowpitch or Fastpitch softball? What are the field dimensions? 200ft fence im guessing to left and to right?

I've played baseball my whole life and some softball here and there. (I'm 22 lol)
But the main thing is you have to keep it fun.

Start with a good warm-up that is always key. My dad played Slowpitch Softball while I was younger and now that he is older he can't even lift his arm high enough to throw a ball with out it hurting. Keep in mind they did no warm ups with their arms.

Set-up for Softball or how I would do it.

1st base - Someone who can catch the ball, and who isn't affraid if the ball hits them anywhere on their body. The 1st baseman usually only works to (his/her) left. So if he is in the field covering first base anything to his right should be second bases ball.

2nd base - Someone who has a weaker arm. Someone who can field the ball pertty good and has decent speed as they will most likely be covering the entire right side of the infield (Im looking at this as im looking from home plate out into the field)

Shortstop - Needs a decent arm, decent fielder, and decent speed..

3rd base - Third base is probley going to be your best player. Strongest arm, no fear, best fielder, and just all around knows how to play the game. (Usually want a right handed player as he or she can use one fluid motion in throwing, unlike a left handed player who would have to turn his shoulders and hips to get the throw off)

Catcher - (This depends on if it is slow pitch or fast pitch) If slow pitch just throw someone back their that likes to catch the ball and throw it back.

Pitcher - You already have that covered.

:: Outfield :: Is a big question mark... I don't really know who you have to work with so it's kind of hard to say.

Left field - Probley will want your 2nd best outfielder here. He/she will help out the left center fielder and cover his/her own spot also.

Left center - Doesn't have to be that great of a player. As he/she will be helped out by the Left fielder and the Right center fielder.

Righ Center - Probley your best outfielder. He/she should be able to cover ground and be able to catch. He/she should be able to help out left center and the right fielder.

Right field - Usually one of the worst players. But like I said i don't know who you have to work with so just fill someone in here.

If you noticed the other team is heavy with Right handed hitting batters or vice versa you can always adjust your rover to help out some where else. (I believe so anyways) Or just shift your defense over.


Some drills to work on --

:: Infield ::

1) Work with your infielders on keeping thier butt down, head down, and their glove to the ground extended out in front of them. I can't think of the name right now but it's just simple funneling drills. It's sort of like a semi-squat but instead of your arms being above your head you have a glove on and fielding grounders. This is for hard grounders to the infielders. If you have an expierenced infield then you can work with them fielding grounders and having them line up their hips with first base as they are fielding the ground ball. That way it decreases foot work and you can get the ball to first quicker.

2) Work on slow grounders and your guys getting around the ball to have their momentum moving towards first base to make the throw. What I mean by getting around the ball is say the ball is rolling towards you at a slower pace and you have time to charge the ball and swing out a little bit and cut hard towards first base while picking up the ball at the same time and then into a throw.

::Outfield::

1) Work with them on outfield grounders. If a ball is hit to the outfield and it is a grounder and no one is on base have them drop to one knee (their throwing side knee) and have them field the ball out in front of them and bring it up to their stomack and get the throw off. Stops a lot of extra bases with balls going threw peoples legs.

2) Work on Pop up's. If their is someone on base work with them to get their momentum moving in one direction while still correctly getting theemselves in a good position to get the throw off.

:: The whole Team ::

1) Work on calling for the ball when the ball is in the air. Outfilders have priority over infielders. But you must also know what kind of players you have around you. To know if you have a better chance at catching the ball than someone who may be closer to it.
Outfielders have priority over Infielders, Infielders have priority over Pitcher, and pitcher has priority over catcher.

2) Work on cut-offs. Kind of hard to explain but here it goes...

Cut off to second - Ball hit to right field the second baseman should be the cut off to second (if need be) Shortstop will be covering second. Ball hit to center field and he needs a cut off it should be 2nd baseman and shortstop will be covering 2nd base. Ball hit to left field the shortstop will be the cut-off man and 2nd baseman will be on 2nd.

Cut off to 3rd base - Ball hit to right field the second baseman will be the cut-off man and the Short stop will be his back up. Ball hit to center field the shortstop will be his cut-off man to third base. Ball hit to left field the shortstop will be cut off man.

Cut off to home - Ball hit to right field the 1st baseman is the cut off man. Ball hit to center field the first base man will be the cut off man. and a ball hit to left field the 3rd baseman will be the cut-off man.

Also something to keep in mind I don't know what kind of field y'all play on (Grass, dirt, or dried up grass which is probley the worst) But before a game have your team walk out to their positions and take a look at the type of ground is around their position. This will give them a good judge on how to play in their position. Wheather it be farther back or closer up. If it's a nice good looking field with grass then the ball on a grounder will most likely be slower. If it is dirt the ball will come at you faster. If it is dried up grass and a mix of dirt beware of crazy hops and the ball will come at you extremely fast.


Phew! Sorry for the long post... But if any more help is needed feel free to ask! I hope this helps.

Oh and if you want to use any of these drills or anything else you have to name the team "SixBurgh" haha just kidding man G'luck with your team!

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Old 03-26-2009, 08:24 AM   #8
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
Xfl,

Don't forget about arm excersises. If people don't throw the softball except for during the softball seasons your going to have a lot of sore arms.
Actually, I'm holding practices already and we're doing warm-ups to work our arms out (for those of us who can make the practices.) I knew that I'd need it...because I've never been the guy passing the ball in any sports. Basketball, I'm the short Power Forward, football, a TE/WR (and punt returner) and the few times I've played Softball, it was outfield.

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Oh is this Slowpitch or Fastpitch softball? What are the field dimensions? 200ft fence im guessing to left and to right?
Slowpitch...and the field is short, but I don't know the dimensions. It looks to be a little longer than 200ft...but I could be wrong. Very short regardless.

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Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
I've played baseball my whole life and some softball here and there. (I'm 22 lol)
But the main thing is you have to keep it fun.
i've already talked to the team and let them know that if they can't have fun winning and losing, they don't belong on my team. I'll be talking smack (and expecting it back) all game every game.

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1st base - Someone who can catch the ball, and who isn't affraid if the ball hits them anywhere on their body. The 1st baseman usually only works to (his/her) left. So if he is in the field covering first base anything to his right should be second bases ball.
Yeah, I've got a couple of people who have played 1st for a while...and the one guy is about 6'3 with long arms. Should be very helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
2nd base - Someone who has a weaker arm. Someone who can field the ball pertty good and has decent speed as they will most likely be covering the entire right side of the infield (Im looking at this as im looking from home plate out into the field)
The guy who I have slated there is semi-quick (we play basketball and racqueball together, so I've got a good gauge on his lateral movement) and has played softball for years. He says he can turn a double play and feels he's best at 2nd (arm not strong enough to play short.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
Shortstop - Needs a decent arm, decent fielder, and decent speed..
The one position I have't got a firm commitment on. This scares me as if we don't have a good SS, our defensive play is likely to be doomed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
3rd base - Third base is probley going to be your best player. Strongest arm, no fear, best fielder, and just all around knows how to play the game. (Usually want a right handed player as he or she can use one fluid motion in throwing, unlike a left handed player who would have to turn his shoulders and hips to get the throw off)
I have two players here (one male and one female) with the female getting priority here, as she's played that position for the last 8 years running. The male hasn't played softball in over 8 years...but he's a rock solid guy. Worst case, I can move him to either Deep Left or Right Center.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
Catcher - (This depends on if it is slow pitch or fast pitch) If slow pitch just throw someone back their that likes to catch the ball and throw it back.
Because it's slow pitch, the pitcher's wife wants this position. She's used to catching for him (and keep your mind out the gutter!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
:: Outfield :: Is a big question mark... I don't really know who you have to work with so it's kind of hard to say.
Tell me about it. I'll paraphrase what I know...and what I'm guessing.

I have a strong candidate for Left Center (as the batter is looking at things) ...she's fast (she runs two miles in 13 minutes) and has played Left Center for years. She's also very aggressive (her words) in going after the ball. For Right Field Field, it will likely be me if I can't find more coverage...as I've played there as well and am still fast enough to cover. My problem is having a weak arm. The best of the rest will go to Left field and then Right Center. My goal is to come in as a sub for players whenever needed though...so I can concentrate more on coaching and less on positioning. The reason I'm going with this order of importance is based on player input from the league. The best Left Center/Right Fielder combo tends to make for the best defense on most teams (a very Right-handed heavy league. ) Most teams are in for a surpise with me...because even though I bat right handed, I have a tendancy to put it over the 2nd baseman's head on a regular basis. (At least, based on the 4 games I've played and the practice I had on Monday).


To shorten this down a little more, thank you for the drills information. I'll print them out and incorporate them into the game plan. I'm hoping to get a few more strong bats...to help work the infield with a more game-day feel.

I'm actually thinking of incorporating batting practice in with my fielding practice. As in, have the outfielders bat grounders for the infield to practice...and the infielders work on getting it into the outfield. If I have enough spares, we'll play around from there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
2) Work on slow grounders and your guys getting around the ball to have their momentum moving towards first base to make the throw.
Yeah, that's what I call "Circling the Ball". I was planning on tossing that in.

As for the field, the four fields are all grass...and the outfield is...rough. While the grass isn't (at this time) all dried out...it's still lends itself to some crazy bounces on grounders in the outfield. I know the outfielders will have to work hard about getting to the appropriate backup positions when another fielder is calling for the ball.

One thing I'm probably going to have to incorporate is having a good "relay team" in place...because I don't have a spectacularly strong arm...and a few of the other players have voiced similar concerns. It'll be something to look at. I think I've got most of the dynamics down, but just because I can see it in my head...doesn't mean it will work on the field.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
Phew! Sorry for the long post... But if any more help is needed feel free to ask! I hope this helps.
No need to apologize...if I had more experience playing, I'd be better off (possibly...though my ignorance does lend me to a more open mind too...) I asked for help...and help was given.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSteelerFan View Post
Oh and if you want to use any of these drills or anything else you have to name the team "SixBurgh" haha just kidding man G'luck with your team!
Not on your life. I think we're going to go with The sllabwercS.

Also, thanks to HTG (and all the others) for your posts. I've read them all and will take everything into consideration. I knew that there was bound to be a few people here who have considerably more experience than I did at this softball gig. I've watched enough softball (my sister played growing up) and baseball on TV to have some of the basics down. I found a few other places to go for ideas online...but it's always best to have a conversation with additional input/feedback from people I can get in touch with fairly quickly.
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Old 03-26-2009, 12:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

Whoops! Got this mixed up with my own "softball coaching" thread...
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Old 03-26-2009, 03:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: Coaching Softball - Any tips

Don't neglect the short outfield position... (the fourth outfielder)

That position can, in many ways, make all the difference for your team (if you are playing with that position).

you want a speedy person there with a gun for an arm, because he or she will make a lot of plays on the short fly balls that usually drop in the short outfield. . . or will stop a grounder from being a two baser.
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