Monday, February 9, 2009

Softball season – week 3

Well, we're into Week 3 already - hard to believe how quickly time has gone. Our hitting mechanics continue to improve, and we've had a lot of enthusiasm on defense. The coaching staff has done a great job so far with keeping drills fresh and adding new things every day. It's important for us to challenge the players every day, and if we just continue to do the same things day after day, we're not creating those challenges. Sometimes the players get frustrated because we'll add things that they have to work at - they can't do it perfectly the first time they try, but we emphasize that is part of the plan - the challenge.

We made the trip to McFarland this past weekend and, as always, had a good turnout. We all agree that this is by far the WARMEST it's EVER been on a weekend we've gone to McFarland. Last year was in the neighborhood of 20-30 below zero, so we'd have to warm up the vans for a long time before anyone would get in. It was a very pleasant weekend and the participants did a great job with their focus, intensity, and effort. Our sophomores and freshmen did a great job with their instruction as well, and they enjoyed a little dip in the pool at the hotel after a long day in the gym on Saturday! :)

We've had only one day of wearing the "yellow" wristbands so far in the first 2+ weeks of practice. I got the idea from Donna Newberry, the head softball coach at Muskingum College, who was just inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in December - but we have sets of green, yellow, and red wristbands and we use a "stoplight" analogy with our practices. Having a "green" practice means that the intensity was good, the effort was good, the execution was good - good attitudes, everyone taking responsibility for their mistakes, recovering quickly from a mistake, get the idea. A "yellow" practice is one where things are kind of "iffy" - we didn't have good focus and intensity the entire time, maybe we had the "bottom lip syndrome", and things just didn't feel quite right. A "red" practice is one where everything goes poorly - this would be the kind of practice that might actually cause me to just send everyone home early because they weren't getting anything accomplished the way we're supposed to. Our goal is to never have a "red" practice, and keep the "yellows" to a minimum. So whatever the captains decide, the team wears that color wristband the following day. I found it interesting that the one day that we've worn the "yellow" wristbands, you could almost feel shame in the players that day - like they were embarrassed that they had to wear yellow. It was a subtle reminder of what they had done the previous day, and they didn't want to repeat it. This has been a very valuable tool for us, and my appreciation goes out to Coach Newberry for such a great idea!

Go "Green!" :)

Coach Huntington

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Softball season – week 2

After 7 days of practice I have to say that I'm pleased with our progress. We have gotten a little better each day, and I look forward to our continued improvement. We are looking forward to the challenge of our opening games in Tucson, AZ, in approximately 6 weeks. We received the #2 ranking in the NFCA preseason poll, but we're not concerned about where we start - we're more concerned about where we finish, and the journey along the way.

I'm proud of and impressed by the growth I've seen in our team already after just 7 days. We are getting good leadership all the way around, and each player seems to be understanding that every role is important and if they don't take care of their individual responsibilities, the entire team suffers. Our focus in practice has been very good; it's easy to see that each player is driven to improve.

We will travel to McFarland High School this weekend to do a clinic on Saturday and Sunday; our freshmen and sophomores typically go with the coaching staff to do this clinic. It's a good opportunity for them to teach and learn by teaching, as well as spend some time bonding with their teammates and coaches, and learn to live with each other in hotel rooms, as we'll be doing during the season. We always have a great turnout in McFarland, and we're hoping this year will be no different.

Think spring!

Coach Huntington