It’s our impulse as coaches to learn every detail about every skill. We continue learning as much as we can in an effort to help our players.
Find out how to translate what you know into what they need to know!
If you’re a coach that takes learning seriously and tries to gather as much current information about the various skills and tactics as possible – congratulations, your players are fortunate to have you! And while constantly learning more seems like the thing to do as a coach, you may have noticed it doesn’t always lead to solutions.
You might be finding a disconnect between your knowledge and your player’s performance, or you notice yourself getting frustrated that your players aren’t improving no matter how many times you tell them what you know they’re doing wrong. If any of these things sound familiar, then the problem might be found in the opposite direction. Instead of learning more to uncover the solution, you might need to back off what you know and SIMPLIFY things.
In the case of most learning problems – less is more!
Let’s take hitting as an example. Hitting can be a difficult skill for most young players, and can be a complicated skill for most coaches. For a player to hit a pitched ball hard and forward requires a lot of parts moving at the right time, in the proper direction, with power and balance and delivered on-time. Hitting involves concepts like stance, negative move, positive move, toe touch, heel plant, connection, bat lag contact, and extension never mind power, timing, vision, and pitch recognition.
There are a million traps to fall into as a hitter and most of our coaching instruction deals with these traps. We spend too much time telling our players “don’t” do this, and “here’s what you did wrong on that one”. The female mind tends to be hyper-critical anyway so if your instruction to me is based on what I’m doing wrong, then my head is a pretty bad place to be.
Instead, take all the stuff you know about hitting, and pretend its salt – you might like salt on your food but a little bit goes a long way. Once you put it on, you can’t take it off. That’s exactly how we need to approach coaching and instructing our players – like salt – a little bit goes a long way and once we add it, we can’t take it off.
So, instead of telling your hitters everything you know about hitting, boil down their SOLUTION into 2 to 3 key points. Here’s an example from a hitting session I had today with a player who was hitting the ball great off the T, but just swinging way to early off front toss:
- Forward – when she first said this to herself she swung forward instead of twisting sideways
- Let the Ball Show You Where to Swing – instead of swinging because I’m pitching/tossing, let the ball get in flight and it will show you where and when you need to swing in order to hit it
- You’re Faster than You Think – this helps the hitter avoid swinging too soon because they don’t think they’re fast enough. You want to hit the ball in space where it is when it’s sitting on a T – just about at your front foot. So let the ball travel in space and know that you’re faster than you think!
Of course hitting is more complicated than that, but that’s the whole point – why should we make things harder when making them easier can give our players hope. And struggling players really need hope! Just because you simplify something doesn’t mean you aren’t smart, or don’t know what you’re talking about – in fact, the opposite is true. Boiling the complicated down to a couple simple steps takes knowledge & patience. But most importantly, it helps your players slow down their minds, calm down their nerves and concentrate on only a few things instead of on EVERYTHING!
Here’s something I learned today from talking to and working with the hitter I just mentioned. I was doing front toss to her so I could see that her eyes were on the ball and not on me (a very common problem with hitters), and yet she was still missing the ball. That’s always a vision issue and yet she was watching the ball.
But, when I watched her closer, I noticed that she stopped watching it about the point when she started her swing. So, she taught me that hitters must continue seeing, or watching or following the ball as they move their bodies. Sounds easy, but watch for it with your players and start to notice if their vision problems start once their swing starts.
That’s the cool thing about learning – it’s a 2-way street; they learn from us, and if we’re really paying attention, then we learn from them!
For more help with your coaching and your hitting, check out the following:
- eCertifications – Softball Excellence Online Coaching Certification Courses
- eClinic – Successful Hitting Through a Detailed Knowledge of the Swing
- eClinic – Hitting Problems and Corrections – Power and Distance Issues
- eClinic – Hitting Problems and Corrections – Foulballs Popups and Grounders
- eClinic – How to Hit in Games Like you Do in Practice
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