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Softball Coaching Bible

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NFCA Coaching Tip Of The Week

Whether you are coaching at the top level or just starting out, it's extremely important to develop a plan on how to keep your non-starting unit or role players in tune with the game. These people are critical towards your team's success. Keeping them involved with the game can pay off for any program. Obviously, coaches expect their players to go into the game at a moment's notice and expect top of the line performances when called upon! Here they have sat for several innings, cheering or gabbing to their teammates, but never picking up a ball, bat or glove.

A role player must be loose and ready to play hard with the skills necessary to allow the team and individual player to achieve. Running sprints to the fence in between innings seems to keep players loose, but it's not increasing their skill level. And after all, how many sprints can they possibly run between innings before the excitement wears off?

What's helpful is to be able to allow your players the opportunity to participate each inning, with specific assignments. A chart, provided before the game, with each non-starting player's assignment, relieves the burden for the coach on game day. These roles would be taught ahead of time during practice.

All non-starting outfielders are paired up with a starting teammate and hustle out to her position with them. The non-starting player is always in charge of having a ball in her glove, helping keep things organized. Starters and non-starters throw back-and-forth, practicing grounders, fly balls and line drives.

We have our infielders doing a specific routine each inning. Two non starting players assist with the infielders' routine, one backing up first base for overthrows and the other throwing ground balls. If the catcher needs assistance with gear or is unavailable to warm up the pitcher right away, a non-starting player is ready to aid the catcher and, most importantly, the pitcher. While having the non-starting players cheering the team on is great for team morale, allowing the non-starters to work on dry swings, tee hitting, soft-toss and (if you are blessed with a facility) cage hitting is great! Defensively, many players find fielding ground balls through pepper or fungo hitting helpful and fun. This can only help a player's confidence level and allow for her to enhance her skills offensively and defensively, something all coaches want from their players.

Keeping your players involved is a challenge. You're encouraging them to perform proficiently by having them involved in every inning of every game.