While you might have a favorite team playing this week, ALL the teams can help you get better.
Follow this Guide to Watching the WCWS and learn how you can improve as a softball player just by sitting in your living room!
The Women’s College World Series (WCWS) is back! After a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the top 8 teams in the country will be in Oklahoma City, OK this week playing for a national championship!
This is a HUGE week for college softball! The WCWS is not only the biggest event in college softball, but a major event for ESPN as well! Every single game is seen by millions of people on TV and every single play is analyzed by the announcers and the fans. And while you might dream of one day being on that same field, playing in front of those same TV cameras there are some things you should pay attention to this week that just might help you get there.
1. Study Your Position: Whatever position you play, watch the players as they play your position. Learn how they hustle, when they move or talk or watch or listen. Do your best to watch what they do:
- In between pitches – how do they move in between pitches, where do they go and what are they doing when they go there. And watch how they talk to their teammates between pitches. Who do they talk to, how often do they talk and how loud do they talk?
- Off the ball – when the ball’s in play but isn’t hit to them, watch where they go. How do they hustle and play when they are off the ball – meaning it isn’t hit to them or going to be thrown to them.
- No matter what – basically this means watch them whether they really have a play or not. Watch how hard they try for balls even if the ball is out of their reach. They don’t give up on a ball just because it looks too far away, or might seem over the fence, or the fence might be approaching fast.
2. Study the Dugouts: The cameras love to show what’s happening in the dugouts because softball is famous for how much we support our teammates. So watch for that support.
- Everyone is supportive – you won’t catch someone on the end of the bench complaining, and yet just like your team, there are starters and there are bench or role players. But nobody is complaining. Everyone is working their hardest at whatever role they have, even if that role is to cheer on the starters.
- Focus is on the field – the dugout is focused on what’s happening on the field and on helping their teammates be successful on the field instead of looking into the stands or talking to their parents or fans. These players have friends and family at the games just like you do but they are more worried about helping support their teammates than they are looking in to the stands – so watch for this.
- Everybody has a job to do – whether you’re a starter or not, everybody on a team has a role to play and a job to do. That job might be charting hitters or pitchers, watching to see if runners touch their bases, cheering or supporting their teammates…whatever the job watch for these players doing it and doing it enthusiastically!
3. Study the Frustrations: Just because these players are REALLY good doesn’t mean they don’t get frustrated.
- Their faces – watch their faces to see how these players handle frustrating things like the umpire’s calls, their own errors or their teammate’s errors. What you’re going to see is how seldom their faces show their frustration or their disappointment. It doesn’t mean they don’t feel these emotions but it means they don’t show them.
- Bounce back – another thing you’ll see these players do following a bad call or an error is they bounce back really fast. They usually follow a bad play with a good one. Instead of getting mad, pouting or complaining about a bad call or bad play, they’ll put it behind them and make a good play on the next pitch or next hit.
4. Study the Effort: These players give amazing effort, and they give it all the time. Their effort level doesn’t depend on whether or not they’re starting, on the score, on the heat, on how late their game is or on how many games they’ve already played so far this year. Learn from the intensity of their effort and how they don’t let anything impact their effort level.
5. Study the Teamwork: Sure, each team has its star players but no one player is bigger, or smaller than their entire team. Watch how well these players:
- Support each other – notice how these players will always be there to talk to each other, give each other encouragement or information, and to do whatever it takes to support each other. That might mean handing the starting pitcher a cup of water as she comes off the field, or playing catch with the starting outfielder, or helping the next batter find her bat. Support comes in many different forms so watch for even the smallest sign of it.
- Help when someone is struggling – a large part of teamwork is helping teammates who need it, and nobody needs help more than a player who is struggling. Watch for players verbally supporting their struggling teammates by cheering for them, or physically supporting them by smiling at them or giving them a high five. We all need support from time to time and those times are even more important when millions of people are watching us struggle and only our teammates are there to help us.
- Celebrate the little things – And finally, the team that wins it all will do all the little things better. Those “little things” have been practiced and emphasized all year and now, on the biggest stage under the most pressure, it’s time to do them. So watch how much these teams celebrate teammates who do the little things well – things like getting the bunt down, working the pitcher for a walk, getting a great hitter to pop up, making a solid play on defense, and scoring as a pinch runner. The big win is made up of little things, and celebrating those things tells everyone how important they are!
If you’re looking for more ways to improve your level of play, check out all of our great training resources:
- Vault Classic (contains ALL of our eLearning Products at one low price!)
- Training Aids
- Softball Books
- Just for fun – Softball Accessories!
And click here for your FREE copy of the 2021 NCAA WCWS Television broadcast schedule!