Well Team Manager, it’s time to organize your kickoff softball team meeting. Don’t take this meeting too lightly. Not only is this the time to take care of the administrative functions, it’s also a time when you can set goals and expectations.
First things first. You will want to have enough copies of all of the forms that need to be completed by the parents. Those should include, medical release forms, league contract, separate team contract, insurance forms, possibly ASA VTD Card forms, etc. If you will be purchasing new team uniforms, it’s a great time to have samples on hand for the players to try on in order to get correct sizing.
If you plan to purchase new softball equipment, this is a great time to detail some of those purchases to the parents and explain why the team needs the equipment. You should have already made your list of equipment and come up with a budget. For new teams, please see my Softball Equipment page for reviews on equipment. A few items that every team should have include:
A pitcher's face mask
A Hitting Instructional DVD
A Louisville Slugger Pitching Machine
A Hitting Tee
A Hitting Net
A minimum of 36 foam or poly balls
A Magnetic Lineup Board
The above items will total about $450, but divided out among 12 players that comes to less than $40.00 per player. Trust me, trust me, trust me, the benefit to the team will be worth every penny.
A more seasoned team might want to step up this year and get a
Jugs pitching machine, a couple of high end team bats like a Miken or RocketTech, or a sliding mat.
If, during the meeting, you do a good job of explaining that this year you are going to emphasize fundamentals and emphasize correct technique, you shouldn’t have any problem getting the parents to believe these tools are necessary. In fact, I would already have the Hitting DVD on hand, and I would have all of the parents and players watch it at this kickoff meeting. Be sure to properly introduce the video and Mike Candrea as the U.S. Team coach so that you and the video gain credibility. Then explain that this is the technique you will be coaching this year and if they have any disagreements they can take them up with Coach Candrea.
Regarding the team pitchers, I would make two points. First, this year you will emphasize safety by requiring the pitcher to wear a protective face mask. Second, strongly encourage any player that wants to pitch to take private pitching lessons. If they can’t take pitching lessons, encourage them to purchase a pitching dvd so she can learn correct fundamentals, and let them know you expect them to practice a minimum of 4 nights per week with a minimum of 100 pitches. Remember, if your pitchers can’t throw strikes, the team can’t win.
While you are listing your goals and expectations be skill specific. Don’t list winning as a goal, but rather explain that winning is just one measurement of success. Your goals should include: having fun, learning to hit correctly, learning to field ground balls correctly, learning to catch fly balls, or learning how to slide. Your goals should be directed at individual player development. Some players are more advanced than other players and therefore different players may very well work on a different set of skills. You will notice that I listed “having fun” as the first goal. That should be every team’s primary goal. The moment the fun leaves the game, is the same moment you will lose the team or that player. So above all else, keep it fun.
Good luck Manager. Take this meeting seriously as you are setting the tone for the season to come.