Everybody wants to make it to OKC, or Denver, or Columbus, but not everybody who makes the playoffs will get that chance.
Find out what it’s gonna take for the fortunate few to survive and advance!
While the simple answer is “score 1 more run than them”, the harder answer to the question, what will it take to win and advance in post-season play is much more complicated. Or is it?
I’ve given it a lot of thought and tried to boil-down the elements that all advancing teams must-have whether they’re a power team, speed team, experienced team, new team – whatever style of play the advancing teams have, they’ll all have had to do the following 6 things better than their opponents. After you read them, let me know what you think.
1. Must Start New – The playoffs signify an entirely new season. The first step is to make it there, and then to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Of course at this point in the season NOBODY’S fresh. Players are hurt, teams are tired and coaches are stressed. But the beautiful thing is, it doesn’t matter how you got in, just get in! Once in, the clock goes back to zero, what you did before is history and all you have is your next opponent. The teams that advance through the post-season probably won’t have the best records, and in fact, may not have even won their conference, but they will be the best ones at starting fresh and going from there! Where you’re seeded doesn’t matter as much as how you play once you’re seeded.
2. Must Execute – Either execute or get executed – that’s how important it is in post season! Everybody’s good in post season so pitchers will be good, opponents will be new, and games will be close. This means that outcomes will come down to a bunt, a throw, a pitch, a hit, a slide. One skill, while simple in and of itself, can be the difference between advancing to your next game or watching the rest of the post season on TV. The teams that advance will simply out-execute their opponents. Not in the really, really hard skills, but in the simple, everyday skills.
To help your team get a little better in the critical skills where execution is the difference between winning and losing, check out the following:
3. Must Rebound – I’m not talking basketball here. I’m talking the kind of rebounding where you get knocked down but you immediately get back up and go forward as if nothing happened. Because, in the playoffs, something is always going to happen to you. Your opponents want to win too so they’re working as hard to beat you as you are to beat them. The teams that survive and advance through the playoffs will have to rebound immediately from things like; opponents having a big scoring inning, losing a game in 1st round of regionals or supers, a poor inning defensively, or a pitcher that suddenly runs out of gas. All of these things and more will happen to teams that advance through the playoffs as well as to those that don’t. The difference-maker will be – the teams that advance REBOUND from these momentary setbacks while the ones that don’t…well, they don’t!
4. Must Adjust – Adjusting might sound the same as rebounding, and while it’s similar, it’s smaller and happens more often. As I just mentioned, rebounding is something you do either after your opponent does something really BIG, or you do something really BAD. While adjusting is much smaller, not in its significance, but in its size. Teams that advance through the playoffs will have more of their hitters making in-bat adjustments to the opposing pitcher than the ones that don’t. Their pitchers will make better and faster adjustments to the umpire’s strike zone, their fielders will make better adjustments to the playing surface and winning teams will all deal better with ever-changing weather conditions. Adjusting is a constant part of sports and the teams that advance through the playoffs will simply do this better than those that fail to adjust and move on.
5. Must Capitalize – Getting runners on base is one thing, but it’s not what we count in softball. We only count Runs so teams that advance will score runners more often when they get them in scoring position than their opponents. Advancing teams will have timely hitting while their opponents will simply hit. They’ll also take advantage of mistakes, calls, breaks (both good and bad), snafus and the like. Capitalizing is simply another way of saying ‘take advantage of” and teams that advance definitely take advantage of their opportunities, as well as their opponents!
6. Must Stay Together – There’s no doubt that advancing through the playoffs will require the ENTIRE team. Every person from the trainers to the coaching staff to the starters to the clipboard captains to the pinch runners and hitters – everyone will be called upon to play their role to the best of their ability and by doing so, to make the entire team stronger. Me time is over and it’s now WE time! WE need to finish 1 run better than them. That’s it! Do that and you win and advance, fail to do that, and your season is over.
The post season is all about W.I.N. = do What Is Necessary to advance!