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Burlingame Girls Softball

Coaching Overview

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The responsibility of managing and coaching children and young adults takes a lot of  effort and planning. It is more than just showing up at the field with the bats and balls.  Coaching involves preparing the girls mentally and physically to play the game of  softball safely, to improve their skills and to provide them with a positive role model. It  is not an easy job. It takes patience, persistence and sense of humor.

Setting a Practice Structure:

The head coach and their assistant coaches should work together to plan practices and games ahead  of time. Start out the practice season by planning what you’d like to teach your players during the season. After you know the skills and tactics you want your players to learn, you can  plan on how to teach them and organize your practice sessions accordingly.

Organizing Practice:

To make most effective use of practice time break practice sessions into time periods and work on different aspects of the game. Build a break for water and/or time to talk about softball. During the break, tell they players what you are going to do next in practice or discuss the last game in a positive manner. There are a few things that make sense when helping young girls learn the skills of  softball:

  • Keep every girl on your team busy learning something during practice
  • Try to divide your team into small groups with each group learning a new skill or  practicing an old skill (throwing, fielding, catching, catching fly balls, hitting,  running the bases, pitching, etc). The entire team doesn’t have to “play the field”  while one girl hits.
  • Remember to demonstrate the skill you are working on, explain it’s importance  and practice the skill. If possible, break the skill down into steps, so that it is easy to correct while coaching.
  • Use the Moms and Dads that show up at practice. They are extra coaches who will probably enjoy helping out. Just make sure to instruct them on what to do and how to do it.
  • Encourage, encourage, encourage – sometimes it’s tough to find something good in a blown play, but it may be that it’s better than the last time or maybe it’s a chance to tell them that you love the effort that was given, but next time try it this  way and it may be easier. Use the sandwich technique, say something positive  about the play, explain what should be done and provide some positive reinforcement.
  • Control your emotions and help other Managers, Coaches and Parents control  theirs. Keep in control whenever you talk to your players, to other Coaches, to Parents, to Umpires, to the other team and to spectators. If you or another Coach are really upset, take time to cool down or let someone else handle the situation. The temperament and emotions of Managers and Coaches can be an important  factor in determining the emotional level of the games. YOU ARE THE ROLE  MODEL.
  • Don’t over train or demand too much from your team. Keep things loose (not sloppy, but loose) and build each player’s confidence. Be fair and encouraging, but most of all be aware of each girl’s different talents and abilities and how to  build off of each of those.

Game Day:

As game day approaches here are a few tips to ensure everything goes off without a hitch:

  • Send a reminder to all players a few days before the game to mark their availability to avoid last minute changes to lineups or worse not having enough players to play the game. 
  • Have your lineups and substitutions planned in advance. By planning ahead of time, you won’t  have to worry about being sure everyone played and your team won’t be confused about where they’re supposed to play every inning.
  • Arrive approximately 1 hour before the games scheduled start to setup the field (drag infield, place bases, chalk boundary lines) and coordinate the team to fully warm up before the game.
  • Coordinate with other teams coaches and a parent to identify an official scorekeeper for the game. Parents and Grandparents make great scorekeepers and usually more than happy to help when asked. Be sure to spread this task around to different people to avoid burnout. 
  • Select 2 captains from your team to participate in pre-game meeting with umpire(s) and coaches. Be sure to rotate the captains from game to game to ensure each girl has a turn over the course of the season to be a captain at least once. 
  • Keep the dugout neat and orderly. Assign someone (like the on deck batter) to make sure that bats and helmets are in the dugout. Have a place for the  equipment to be kept. The only people who should be in the dugout are the players, the manager, two coaches,  
  • Let every girl be a starter. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to a player who never gets to start. On all teams there are varying skill levels, but it is important that each girl feels she is part of the team and getting better each week. Being a starter is part of that process.

Remember, the girls will live up to your expectations if you tell them what they are doing right, just as they will live up to your expectations if you tell them they are “lousy”. Always use positive encouragement again YOU ARE THE ROLE  MODEL your actions are shaping the way the girls think about competitive situations.

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