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Coaches Corner:  Off-Season Ball

I would like to talk today the importance of fall ball and dome ball.

As you are all well aware the drive to compete at the highest level is bigger than it has ever been.  Now we can argue if that is the direction we should be going or not but it seems to be the way of society.

With that said, fall ball really seems to help the younger girls transition into the next year of softball especially when they are moving up to the next level. For example for the 10’s to 12’s there is a ball size change from 11” to 12” and they pitch from 40’ instead of 35’, so pitchers really can use that time to make all the different adjustments, and moving to 14u it changes from 40’ to 43 ‘.

This gives them the opportunity to meet new girls and learn softball at a less overwhelming competitive pace.  There are minimal practices and a 1 double header on either a Saturday or Sunday.

Now dome ball has really come a long way as well.  Athletes can utilize that in  different capacities.

Some are all in and really want to focus on the game.  Others get into as many clinics and leagues as possible, some like the batting cage usage or the pitching tunnels. 

Dome ball keeps the girls engaged during the off season with games on the weekends to keep their game up to speed and also the chance to meet more girls from other areas in the metro.

It also goes beyond the sport, it helps with their social skills as well as finding more friends with same interests!

I really think that there can be a balance of multiple sport athletes utilizing this option throughout the year and strongly encourage you all to take a look at both options! It is a lot of fun during the winter and of course great exercise!

Thank you for your time, and,

Go Zephyrs!

 
 
 
 
With tryouts now being done and teams are being made, I wanted to talk today about the importance of having the different levels of play, and why it is important to understand that your daughter doesn't always have to play on the A team to have a successful season.
First off, having the different divisions or levels of play in your association is very important and I believe a must! Not every girl learns at the same level or is born with the same abilities.
1.) It allows the coaches to be able to teach girls with the same abilities and same level of play at a much more consistent rate. It also keeps the girls attention span while not overwhelming others that are not up to that level of play.
It allows the higher level player to keep moving forward and not frustrating or lowering the confidence of the lower level girls by them not being able to do the same skills and drills with the more advanced players.
 
2.) The whole idea is that the girls play at a level that they can compete at. If you raise the bar too high or it is not set high enough makes for a long season.
Some girls either come into the game a little later in life or they just develop slower. Neither is wrong or a bad thing!
 
 The fact that they want to play and want to get better is the key. This is a very difficult game to play as it is and if you want the girls to stay with game then it is very important that they are allowed to learn at their own pace.
I do understand that sometimes it may seem that there is always something political about which girls were put on which team. I have to be honest when I say I have seen it happen from both sides of the table.
It is too bad when parents that put the teams together do not think of the girls first, and instead make winning the most important factor.
I know that this group of parents in your association has done a great job of understanding; the number of girls participating, the level of play, and how and where each girl fits into that team to make each team competitive for this season.
You ask my girls I hate losing! But what I hate more is when everything is about winning and teams play down just to win the tournaments or the championships instead of challenging the girls and giving them to chance to compete at their highest level.
For me a winning season is playing at the highest level for that team and winning over half of the games. That way I know they were challenged, they learned how to win, and they learned how to be good losers also.
 
Life will not always hand you a trophy nor should you always deserve a trophy just because you showed up. I believe it gives these young ladies something to always strive for and allows them to understand that if you want something bad enough you will have to work a little harder to get there.
 
In my opinion this is the worlds greatest game! And I want to thank all of you for giving your daughters the chance to play and be involved with the best team sport there is!
 
Coaches Corner Part 2
Welcome to another addition of coaches corner!
This week I would like to talk to you about the importance of the different roles played in the game of softball.
As parents watching the game you will wait to see where your daughter is playing on the field and when you don't see her out there we wonder why? What happened? What did she do wrong? Or why is the coach mad at her for now!!!
We have all been there.
 
The first thing to understand is that you can only play 9 girls on the field at a time, so someone has to sit.
The key is that there are many parts of the game, and that when you are in the dugout there are many responsibilities and jobs that you have to do while on the bench.
 
Now every age bracket is different so not all of these will apply to each age but hopefully you will understand and then be able to explain to your daughters that it is vital that they learn that these jobs or roles will help you win games when you pay attention on the bench. Instead of having the bad attitude and pouting wondering why I am not playing.
Keeping a great attitude at all times will get you noticed by your coach all the time and it will also make your time on the bench way more fun when you are there!
 
I always preach these 3 things to my girls to make them successful in anything that they do in life. Always have positive energy, attitude and effort, because those are the things you can control.
 
For example watching for runners to steal, watching if they are bunting, trying to steal the other teams signs is always fun and every team has someone really good at it! What is their pitcher throwing for pitches? Does there defense cheat over to a certain side on certain situations? Are they leaving the bag early on a steal? Where are the outfielders lined up? Too shallow or really deep? Tell my defense where to throw the ball. Can I practice my swing in the batting cage? Does our other pitcher need to be warmed up? How about just cheer loud for my teammates? These are just some examples of things I teach our girls to do when they are on the bench.
 Sometimes I will just put someone on the bench to just let them watch the game to get a better understanding of how things flow, or how a certain position is played correctly. Some girls have trouble learning on the fly or as we say throwing them right into the fire.
Something else to keep in mind is that some girls maybe only ever get to be role players even at the college levels. They are asked to pinch hit, or pinch run.  We also have a rule called the DP/flex rule which allows one person to only hit and the other player only plays in the field, this allows you to actually play 10 girls at a time.
 
My point is that a championship team will never win with the same 9 players out there every inning of every game. It will take many different teammates doing different roles each and every game to make that team successful. So we need to make sure we teach our girls to embrace every role their given and to do  their best at that job for that game and you will find that you will play more and more innings as the games and the years go by.
 
Remember this game is a game of failure and how we teach these girls to accept failure and to learn from it and get stronger is the goal.I promise they will fail more times than the will succeed especially at the plate, when your batting average is 400 means you failed 6 out of the 10 times at that is a good thing!
 
Remember our role is to keep them positive and that keeps them playing!
 
 
Skip Heagle
Mahtomedi High School
Fastpitch Head Coach
763-218-7443
 
Introduction to Coaches Corner
 
Hello Zephyr fans, My name is Skip Heagle and I am very proud to say that I am your coach for the varsity softball team.
Welcome to the first edition of coaches corner, and a brand new year of Zephyr softball!
 
This first edition is to explain what my role is and how together with the Mahtomedi Fast Pitch Association we will make the fast pitch program strong in many ways for years to come.
 
My background includes over 30 of playing in the men's fast pitch league playing along side and against some of the world's best players. My experience in coaching the game is from 4 years old athletes up the 22 years of age for the past 20 years. I believe that fast pitch is the best sport in the world! Young ladies that chose to play softball are some of the best athletes out there!
 
Coaching sports is a privilege that is earned and to work with your children is always an honor. Now I must admit ...some days we would all like to rethink that position!  Sports more importantly is about life lessons and how we can use this tool to develop our young ladies to be better players but also be better people.  That is my number one goal.
 
So many times we have our children play the sport to get ahead in life with all the opportunities there are with scholarship money at the college level.  That is a great goal but it shouldn't be the only goal.  As a father to 2 girls that played of course I have made my mistakes along the way in both being a coach and a father.  The biggest thing we need to teach our children is give them the strength to compete and the chance to work hard.  The next is not being afraid to fail every now and then while allowing them to figure out how to get back up on their feet with confidence.  We as coaches on my staff as well as the Association understand that we need to challenge the girls but also let them know that without failure we cannot get better.  With that said, a parents role can be difficult because your main focus is your daughter. I always ask parents to please be patient with the process. Look at the big picture before you jump to conclusions on what you may see at that moment and always ask your daughter questions first before talking to the coach. Make sure you talk to your daughters before making judgments on what you may see on the field of play. They usually have a good idea what the reason was for the decision made in the dugout. 
 
Be gentle with the coaches, in Association ball you have parents taking time out of their day to help do a job that quite frankly you will never win at. It is not an easy job whether you volunteer or get paid millions of dollars to coach children and when problems arise usually it leads  back to the parents.  Of course no one wants to hear that, and as you will learn I will usually be the one saying things that no one wants to hear, but it is the truth.  When having this discussion amongst athletes and coaches abroad that is the number one concern.
 
My final thoughts for today are to enjoy what your children love to do.  Embrace the time they play sports with their teammates and friends.  Help guide them through the tough times and celebrate the successful ones. Life will happen out there and how we help guide them now will create for them a better future. Most of all be there to help when you can in any capacity, because it takes a whole village to become great but it will take being a family to keep it great!
 
Thank again for your time, and Go Zephyr's!
 
Skip Heagle
Mahtomedi High School
Fastpitch Head Coach
763-218-7443