5 random observations about travel softball

Discussion in 'General Softball Discussions' started by Coach Tony, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. Coach Tony

    Coach Tony Member

    1. We play WAY too many games and practice FAR too little - I read this somewhere: if your ratio of games played to team practices is more than 1.5 to 1 you may be playing too many games OR practicing as a team too little. In college, there are about 1 game for every 3 practices (ratio is probably a lot higher)...I could write a 50,000 word post on why team practices are good and why it is a problem that we practice so little, but I will spare you the diatribe ;)

    2. As coaches we over practice ground ball double plays and under practice other types of double plays - Almost all of us have probably incorporated "turn two" into our infield practice routine. We hit grounders for 6-4-3, 4-6-3, and 5-4-3 double plays. We probably far less frequently practice unassisted double plays, line drive outs into doubling off a runner who didn't tag, or making back door throws on other runners after an initial force out of a batter runner. Considering ground ball double plays make up a minute number of your team's outs in a given season, maybe we practice them all together too much?

    3. Unless you are a pitcher and catcher, more than 90% of your time in a game is spent WITHOUT the ball - Try this: From the start of game to the last out, take a stop watch and time every time your daughter (if she is not pitcher or catcher) 1) directly fields a ball hit to her and throws it to another player 2) receives a throw 3) grabs a ball from the ground and holds or throws it... essentially, any time your daughter is directly involved in fielding/handling/throwing the ball in the field. Also track the time during your daughter's at bats where the pitcher has begun her wind up until just after your daughter strikes the ball or it is caught by the catcher. Add all of that time up and then compare that to the total time of the game. You will be amazed how little time is spent "with the ball". What is she doing to help her team in that time frame? - things to improve on backing up bases, covering bases, base running, spending time in the dugout, being "in the hole," being "on deck," communicating, etc.

    4. Many softball players have atrocious leads as baserunners - in my spare time, I am a fledgling umpire and I am perplexed by the number of players who get late jumps on their leadoffs from first and second base. In some tournaments I have been at, the ball is being caught by the catcher before the baserunner has left the bag.

    5. There are not enough female coaches in travel softball - We need female coaches. This is not a knock on male coaches. There are many great travel coaches who are dads, non-parent male coaches, etc. But if your daughter has plans to play in college, she almost assuredly will play for one or more female coaches. Your daughters should see females in coaching roles and positions of sports leadersip from an early age. We need to reach out to former collegiate players and travel "alumni" to be head coaches and/or assistant coaches. Consider paying these women to help out or run your team...

    Feedback or any discussion on these could be more fun and useful than some of the more recent drama threads...:cool:
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
    Julie likes this.
  2. wannaplaysb

    wannaplaysb Active Member

    Love this!! #1 practice is like church. You can show up and get very little. Practice is how you approach every aspect of the game. For example...what are you taking from practice with your team to work on? Are you watching games even on TV and analyzing? Do you have a clear goal like messing with a pitch to see how it breaks with a different step/stride/release point? Do you have little weights in your room and a place to swing or field five days a week?

    #2 are you thinking of the first out and second shot every pitch? And if you aren't gunning for the lead will you catch them on the turn? And throw it? Do you hate a steal do to indifference worse than anything???

    #3 if you are a pitcher or catcher are you throwing the ball so that your defense has a shot? A well placed rise on the hands? Up with a bunt situation? Down in the zone with a runner on first to get a double play ball? And is the catcher able to know that a steal situation you will pitch out to give her a clear lane to throw them out. Even twice in a row...? Knowing you can come back from down in the count. And totally trust you catcher to know when it her out to get?

    #4 as a batter will you step back in the box and get in the pitchers view of the glove and catchers view of the ball to take a strike and advance a runner? Will you swing at a pitch during an intentional walk to mess with the catcher with a runner on? Will you swing late to keep a catcher back and give your fast girls a step? Will you do all of that without a sign from the coach cuz you know the game inside the game?

    #5 for sure. But I was a female coach for ten plus years.After playing for 18 plus years. And was sure to know my place. When I approached umpires, male coaches, and TDs I was put there often. But my girls are are better for my time and for that I am blessed for the experience!!
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  3. manitoudan

    manitoudan Active Member

    Bad baserunning , and lack of knowing how to pressure a defense with big turns , and lack of a good lead -- drives me NUTS
  4. CARDS

    CARDS Active Member

    This is a big area, go to most any tournament or HS game and this is a glaring weakness of some players. Speed means little if you do not use it correctly and the lady with average to below average foot speed can be a play maker on the bases with the ability to get those little edges /jumps. Same with playing D....
  5. klinder

    klinder Active Member

    Great Post!!!!

    I totally agree. Back in the day, fall ball was devoted to teams practicing their skills and strategies, nobody played games. These days teams play more than practice, so when do they develop their skills?

    The progression for developing a team should be:

    Teach, develop, and master individual skill sets - footwork, angles, covering more ground, throwing, fielding, pitching, position work, hitting, bunting, baserunning
    Most of these skills still need to be taught and developed at all levels!!!!!!!! Athletes are going to college with poor throwing habits.

    Teach and master team strategies - defensive bunt coverages, steal coverages, run downs, relays, back ups, passed balls; offensive strategies - bunts, steals, hit and run, base running.
    Put kids in game like situations in practice offensively and defensively so they are working on decision making - no runners, R on 1, R on 2, R on 3, R on 1 and 3, R on 1 and 2, loaded, add differing speeds for runners and types of hits. They should know what their coverage is before the play based on the situation of the game, the speed of any runners, and how quick they get to the ball. Their teammates should be covering their base and backing up the play as soon as the ball is put into play. Unfortunately today's athletes wait until someone tells them where to go and what to do.

    Scrimmage - use practice games to practice situations with runners on base so decisions can be made - anticipate, read, and react to the ball. Learn to think the game and make a decision.

    Games - be able to know the game well enough that you don't need a coach to tell you what to do. Have leaders on the field to take control.

    Practice after games - emphasizing skill progressions and reps as warm ups, review team strategies, go over anything that was not clear in games, and use competitive drills and situations to improve game making decisions.

    A lot of times games are won or lost due to poor game decisions because kids don't think the game ahead of time and they are not practiced in making those quick reactive decisions.

    As for getting more former female players to coach the game it is difficult to get them to give up the time needed to coach as a volunteer, especially when they will need to give up 3 to 4 days of every weekend in the summer to go to a tournament, not to mention trying to fit a couple of practices in. Paying them for their time, would possibly attract more of them to get involved.

    I would love to see the day when we go back to a two day double elimination tournament from the get go with no pool play. That would change things. Teams would become more motivated, kids would have to work to earn their playing time, and teams would probably practice more to be better prepared. Parents could spend less money traveling and kids could use their time to either get better or do more kid things. Win or go home. You'll find out very quickly who is willing to commit to the sport. These days losing hurts the parents more than it hurts the kids. Majority of the kids are in it for the social value and there is always another game.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  6. Doom Leader

    Doom Leader Active Member

    Klinder great post!!
  7. CARDS

    CARDS Active Member

    The ways of the past are gone.

    The sport has changed and because of change Ohio has made strides in fielding more competitive teams Nationally but the flip side of the coin is ladies that need the reps, coaching etc. are not getting it on the other not so well known teams.

    There are many factors that have lead to these changes.

    The basic make up of a team back in the early 2000s was mostly made of ladies from a particular town. This helped allow teams to practice longer and more often. Fast forward to 2010 ish teams started drawing players from a larger area even the younger 10U teams started getting ladies from over an hour away from the teams base. Teams started practicing once a week for 2-4 hours. It also resulted in teams looking to replace more players and parents to jump teams every season.

    Schedules and goals also started changing where teams started traveling longer distances for events and at the older ages the desire for a top national dropped in favor for more showcase style events. (Now showcases are offering 10/12U spots)

    I agree with others there are more game manager coaches and less skill development coaches. Coaches are not getting involved in PD or joining professional networks to improve their coaching. The last NFCA event I helped with back in 2013 they struggled getting coaches to run the event. A lot of coaches cannot model instruction and very few utilize classroom instruction any more.

    In the past teams under 14U worked to get the ladies to learn "how to play fast", throwing drills used to get their feet involved, running drills to help on defense and running the bases.
    Now 16 and over ladies lack some of these skills and it shows even in college play.

    Tournaments have also changed, The Saturday/Sunday events (even at 10U) have been replaced by 3/4 day events, Tournament cost has exploded so has fees.
    Parents paying these higher fees want games not practice. Especially when they are now paying for private instruction and personal training. (Some not better just private)....Back in the day this was all part of the team practice.

    Kindler outlined good player progression that has to start at the younger ages and be fine tuned at the older ages. The key is being able to balance the changes in the game and get back to developing talent.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  8. wow

    wow Active Member

    Cards- Absolutely spot on post. Thank you for outlining the WHYs behind how these changes came about. Scrimmages are not games and you can not recreate the game situation. IE the pressure a pitcher/batter feels full boat. The speed of real games are much higher.

    As far as the instructional points as you get older, everyone is honing their skills, and the kids want to put those skills in place in a "real" game setting.

    I get the instructional period for the younger ages, but you are simply not gonna keep a 16U+ kid, and if they are coming from all over the Midwest, interested in taking infield/outfield 5X a day. College is a different story because they are there to play, if they are so lucky to do that.

    Coach Tony_ you bring up some great points about non-pitchers catchers. Most colleges have Pitching catching/practice for a reason, some travel teams do as well. Non P/C-These players need to approach the practice and learning from a different angle. I am reading more about softball IQ than anything, in your post. How many times you practice something 100X in practice only to miss it in a game? Yep we have all been there. Point #2 is a keen observation. This is not baseball and the speed of the game does not allow double plays the way it does in BB. Point #5 you are spot on. Female coaches, have likely played the game and they offer a relatable asset, male coaches cant. More importantly female coaches connect with their players on a different level.

    I would like to add the preverbal BUNT the runner from one with no outs. Ok. So now we have a runner at 2 with one out assuming everything went as planned. If you bunt over to 3 what does a runner at 3 with two outs give you? A play at 1st with no runs scored! Too many times either kids cant lay down the bunt when needed or a coach takes a bat out of a kids hand who is hot. Why not get the kid to 2nnd with no outs with a steal or hit? I get it depends on the line up, but holy cow manufacturing runs is a lost art!

    Sorry I went off the reservation for a moment..
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
  9. FastBat

    FastBat Well-Known Member

    #1. Would you include practicing at home or with other teams practice? I would. I agree with more practice, but if you include practice in other places, then I also think games help improve your softball skills greatly. Also, consider the competition level they are playing against as useful game play.

    #4. Strong base running/lead offs win games.

    #5. Female coaches: most females/moms don't have enough time to do everything, let alone coach a travel softball team. When I consider my dd's former coaches, most of them have had a certain type of personality and also want to take on that type of responsibility.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
  10. tjsmize3

    tjsmize3 Active Member

    So it just pains me to say this about the bunt game but Wow makes a great point that deserves discussion (perhaps on another thread). I consider myself a stats guy... I understand them, I use them, I have faith they lead to more Ws when used properly. Last year a parent (who shall remain nameless) argued this exact point with me. I told him I understood his point, but that I believed a runner at 2B with 1 out stood a better chance of scoring than a runner at 1B with no outs. Like Wow, he countered that I should just consider stealing the runner then and my response was why risk the chance of having NO BASERUNNERS and an out. We just basically agreed to disagree. After nationals I had a situation that really made me reconsider my stance. I did A LOT of research on this and found that from a stats standpoint the parent was probably more correct than I was... although it gets a little complicated. True, you can argue baseball stats and softball stats don't always correlate, and you can argue that there are certain cases where it's quite obvious we SHOULD BUNT... like for reasons where it makes sense in the line up, or to expose an obvious weakness in the other team's defense, or to play for 1 run (possibly). But, the majority of the time stats suggest that with a runner on 1B and no outs we would score more runs just hitting away! Who knew! The same DOES NOT hold true though for runners at 1B and 2B with 0 outs, but that is an entirely different discussion.
    I too apologize for going off the ranch, but I thought it was an interesting point that was brought up. Below is the link to one of the first articles I found on the subject and another good one after that. Food for thought. Carry on!


  11. rangers00

    rangers00 New Member

    "(Now showcases are offering 10/12U spots)" Now that's nuts. I thought that's all teams did in the winter was work on all the above mentioned fundamentals of the game.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
  12. brownsfan

    brownsfan Active Member

    Way back in the day when my youngest was 10U, we got invited to Stingrays. Now as many people question it; but I also feel it's important. Let's say little Suzy (can't believe I'm about to say this) just watch Michigan win the WCWS and Suzy watched every minute of it. They were invited to play in Stingrays as a 10U team and after the game Suzy and her parents leave Coffey Park for Beekman to watch older girls play. Coach Hutch just happens to be following a recruit who is playing there & little Suzy notices her. Can you think of a better inspiration for her? "Coach Hurch is at the same tourney as me!"

    That's why I'm for 10/12U at showcases.
  13. manitoudan

    manitoudan Active Member

    Wait , you dont have to bunt with a runner on 1B and no outs ? I thought it was the 11th commandment .
  14. wow

    wow Active Member

    Only if you take the bat out of the kids hand who is hitting .654 for the season, then its a great call! Or better yet the kid who has 0 SAC bunts and its July...

    I think its more about the experience of playing in the event. The label is just a reason to charge $895 vs $300 for a regular tournament!
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
  15. manitoudan

    manitoudan Active Member

    I'm much more of a situational / aggressive gut feeling sort of guy . If I have speed at first I want to steal . Hard to ever have a big inning when you constantly play for 1 run.
  16. Fairman

    Fairman Member

    A few years ago someone did a statistical analysis of NCAA Division 1 playoff games looking to establish a data based decision making model. They modeled all the playoff games played that year. (I believe it was reviewed in the NFCA newsletter. (Can't find it today)) They concluded that the runner at 1st with no outs had a substantially higher chance of scoring than a runner at 2nd with one out. They were also advocating the straight steal.

    Granted that was based on the best teams in softball playing at the highest level, not the more typical Poor Sister's of the Blind playing Moe's Bar and Grille in a 10U pool game.

    What was this thread about anyway??
  17. wow

    wow Active Member

    a thread on a tangent? nooooooooooooooooooo

    So there is no advantage to be at 2nd?
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  18. JoeA1010

    JoeA1010 Active Member

    The NFCA article just took stats from the CWS (or maybe the postseason as a whole) from that year. That isn't a large enough sample. What we do have, though, is the stats from all of Div. I college softball in 2015. Those numbers show that the likelihood of scoring at least one run is about the same with a runner on first and no outs as it is with a runner on second and one out. Scoring two or more runs, however, is much less likely with the one out and runner on second (which is common sense) than a runner on first and no outs.

    Thus, the sac bunt with a runner on first and no outs was a decidedly bad play in college softball in 2015. It's even worse when you consider the times the batter popped up or fouled balls off, which were in no way offset by the rare occasion of an error on a sac bunt.
  19. JoeA1010

    JoeA1010 Active Member

    Actually, here is the chart. It's the 2014 season and the ScEx is the likelihood of scoring at least one run, which is actually lower with a runner on second and one out. We use this exact chart quite a bit with our players in classroom situations.


    If there is a way to just show it, rather than provide the link, someone please do it for me.
  20. Fairman

    Fairman Member

    There is no statistical advantage to be at second with one out over being at first with no outs. Bunting the runner over greatly reduces the chance of posting a croaked number that inning.

    That being said: it still depends on who's on first and how fast she is. (can she make third?) who is batting, how good she might be (hitting away or bunting) and how fast, and what is the game situation?, (tied in the top of seventh or down by 6 in the third?) Who is on deck and the chance of her hitting the ball to the fence and who is in the hole.......

    Then the coach earns his money and makes a choice, cause at the point stats don't matter, it comes down to this pitch, welcome to softball.

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