Whether you’re a seasoned softball coach or a rookie, coaching is a difficult job with a rather steep learning curve. A coach can go years without realizing the way they’re instructing a technique might not be the safest or most effective approach. In many ways, softball coaching is intuitive and based largely on experience and what you yourself have been taught—which isn’t always correct. The following mistakes are made all too often by new and old coaches alike, but can be easily stopped with a bit of mindfulness!
Not addressing dropped shoulders while hitting:
Many hitting mistakes can be traced back to dropped shoulders, which cause poor batting averages due to pop-ups, strikeouts, and fly outs. Unlike baseball, softball pitches are thrown upwards, released from the bottom of the wind up. As such, there are numerous outcomes to a pitch. The ball may curve, screw, rise about the player’s hands, or have a perfect drop. To react according to the pitch, hitters need to have the shortest and fastest swing possible. If a hitter is dropping their shoulder, they will be unable to react quickly enough to ensure a successful hit.
Not continuously going back to the basics:
A lot of coaches want to push their team’s abilities and try new training techniques and drills—which is great, but not at the detriment of their players’ understanding of the fundamentals of softball. If you really want to improve your team, make sure to consistently go back to the basics and stress the importance of basic catching, throwing, and hitting skills. Repetition helps make the movements feel like second nature. The more comfortable the players are with the fundamentals, the more comfortable they’ll be on the field.
Not encouraging communication:
If your team isn’t talking, you have a serious problem. Silence on the field doesn’t equate to concentration and focus, it equates to a lack of communication and verbal teamwork. Coaches need to encourage dialogue on and off the field to ensure that players are effectively passing along instructions and information their teammates need to know. This sharing of information creates synergy and and prevents errors from occurring.
While the previous three mistakes are important to correct, the biggest mistake many softball coaches make is getting too comfortable and confident with their level of expertise. No matter how many years you have spent on the field, you can never know too much. Continuously search for ways to better support your team. The more you educate yourself, the better your players will perform.