Preseason Coaches Report Superstars
Coach Craig, Team: Superstars
As an 8 year veteran Dad of daughter, and 13 year veteran Dad of son, Last year I became a rookie 8u girls softball coach. I assisted the year before, my daughters first year in softball. The first year as assistant, I didn't do allot of coaching. I did allot of following instructions. We were 1-9 in 2006, with no excuse other than we were an expansion team and drafted the whole team other than my daughter and the coaches daughter.
The 2007 season was a different story. I was offered the coaching job and even with a work schedule as unpredictable as 6, 7, and 8 year old girls, I took on the task with the help of some great parents. I played baseball through little league and pony league, but that was the extent of my knowledge. What I wasn't prepared for was the overwhelming task of coaching young girls. It was a force I had never encountered, and will never forget. I prepared the best I could. I thought I was ready. I ordered training video's, training aides, etc. and had a plan. The plan got derailed about 10 minutes into the first practice. I realized, in short time, I had no idea what I was doing.
As the practices progressed, I knew I wasn't doing the team any justice. The practices were getting more organized, but I just wasn't getting to where I thought we needed to be. It wasn't the girls, or their parents. We would do a drill then they would all stand their looking at me and waiting for further instructions. They wanted to learn, all 14 of them. In short, we went 5-5 (two games were never played account the rainy season we had) and placed third place out of the 6 teams. It was a better season, but I knew we had a better team than .500 ball, just didn't have the coaching to bring them to the level they should have achieved. Two of our players were picked up by the first place team for post season play, which was a highlight of the season. The other highlights included seeing the girls making individual achievements as the year progressed and our end of the season party where we watched the girls playing, swimming, and having a great time with each other. The two things they were at the end of the season was a team.......and friends.
My daughter is waiting for basketball season to start, she is excited. The funny thing is, I woke up about 2 in the morning a few nights ago, and it was the first time since the end of the season and the post season, that it was the first thing I thought of. I got out of bed and went to my desk and opened up our last years Scoring book, and said to myself, "this year, I have to do better." So here we are. 8 returning players. 8 solid players, and when I looked at their names, I just had to smile, and I haven't stopped smiling since.
I have gone over your website with a fine toothed comb and time after time, page after page, I realized many mistakes I have been making. Getting the EASY out, EVERY time, hit me like a ton of bricks. Staggering the lineup to never have weak batters two or three in a row, instead of using the old school of thought that we all are accustomed to, made me start thinking hard about your way of thinking. I pulled out the score book again, started arranging the lineups in the staggering format, then going by how the players performed in each game, my runs increased by 27%, from 69 to 87.63 for the season. That is almost a two run per game increase.
How do you think your team will do this year?
I will be going from 5 eight year olds in 2007 to 8 in 2008. Three of my 8 year olds last year had never played before. All 8 will be experienced this year. I lost two very good players this year that I wish the best in the 10u level, but just looking at the girls that are returning for 2008, they all made significant improvements throughout the course of the season in '07. One thing I do, which is not meant for anything other than the obvious, is if you did not start last game, you can bet your cleats you will be starting the next game. I will not change that philosophy for '08 season. As to your question of 'How do I think my team will do this year', well that's going to depend on my performance. I have two months to put into place a better practice and game plan.
Have you made the switch to a drills-based practice?
I started it last year, lost it when I didn't have the equipment to utilize a less than perfect practice field, then regained it towards the end of the year. This year, I will be prepared. With the suggestions you have provided, and the equipment that is on its way as we speak, I have no reason to fail in that regard.
Have you started using a stopwatch at practice and what did you learn?
Last year we used a stopwatch as a fun measuring tool, but used it very little. This year will be different. I want to impress upon the girls that we need to increase our speed out of the box, on base paths, even on routine defensive plays. They love competition. I am going to challenge them to decrease their time, not vs. other teammates, and show them how they did throughout the year. To answer your question, yes, we will be using a stopwatch as much as a bat or glove.
We went from dead last in 2006, to right in the middle in 2007, and I want to be at the top in 2008. When my daughter was chosen to play with the first place team in the post season tournament last year, it was bitter sweet. I was proud of her, but I missed our team. This year, I want to be selecting players from other teams to help us go to the state playoffs. With your help, tips, and suggestions, I believe it is possible.